Welcome to The Play-By-Play, a column where I’ll be writing about an episodic game series as I play through the season, sharing my thoughts on the storyline, the game, and generally any other things that I’ve picked up on. Today, we’re continuing our journey with Big Bad Wolf and Focus Home Interactive’s The Council.
Wow. Way to make nothing out of a cliffhanger. If you remember, the end of The Council’s first episode saw us being arrested for the murder of Elizabeth Adams. Here, in the first moments of episode two, that storyline seems to have gone absolutely nowhere, and instead, we are tasked by Lord Mortimer to actually investigate the murder and find the culprit ourselves. While I’m a little intrigued by Lord Mortimer’s motivation here – it’s not exactly common to ask one of the most likely suspects to act as the detective – a part of me feels that this might just be poor writing. The rest of episode two does little to dissuade me from thinking that the writers were really fumbling with how to tell their story and where it was going. It’s a shame that some of the promise of the first game seems to be leading up to a fair bit of wasted potential.
While I had fun investigating Elizabeth’s crime scene and trying to develop a theory as to what happened, the interactions with other characters seem to have taken a pretty drastic hit in quality during this second episode. I decided to talk to Washington about his interactions with Elizabeth, wherein he told me that he hadn’t yet spoken to her and was full of regret having missed his opportunity. Then, when I asked him about a piece of evidence I found in her room, he said that she had come to him asking for help. These two contradicting statements might seem like they’re sewing the seeds of distrust in Washington, but our character made no reaction to these two remarks, and Washington didn’t even seem the slightest bit uncomfortable. It suggests that it’s less Washington, the character’s, oversight, and more that there was a general lack of polish on behalf of the developers and writers. This lack of refinement also raised its head in the recap at the beginning of the episode, when I was shown a scene I hadn’t actually witnessed in the first installment.
There are however still some pretty interesting puzzles in this episode. Exploring the tower room and the puzzle related to chapters and verses from the bible was especially interesting, if not a little overwhelming at first. In light of the writers fumbling the Elizabeth Adams storyline, the search for Louis’ mother has become a little more interesting, and the general motivation for playing the game. Gradually uncovering her correspondence with other guests to the island and eventually discovering the secret room hidden inside Lord Mortimer’s room was exciting, and I spent a good while in the aforementioned hidden study reading all of Lord Mortimer’s notes and research. Even though the character models are a little weak graphically, the environments are pretty nicely done, so I did enjoy spending time wandering through the mansion.
At the end of the episode, we find a hidden area beneath the garden which leads into some secret cave where a body is laid out in a pool of light. Upon approaching the body, we’re surprised from behind by the sudden appearance of Louis’ mother, who doesn’t seem to recognise her own son. It’s another interesting cliffhanger, let’s just hope it doesn’t get wasted in the same way as the one from the end of the first episode.