While The Council’s first episode — dubbed The Mad Ones — had its fair share of annoyances when it released back in March, I was still optimistic about where this series could go. Developer Big Bad Wolf introduced several gameplay innovations to this adventure game niche, so I was interested where this history-fueled story would go in The Council – Episode 2: Hide and Seek.
The Council’s second episode does introduce some clever investigation puzzles, intriguing characters, and a few unique plot threads. Unfortunately, Hide and Seek is still subject to the technical problems of the first episode, and is bogged down even further by a slow-paced plot that continues to meander and set things up without having any substance or payoff of its own.
Editor’s Note: Beware of some spoilers below.
My story in The Council – Episode 2: Hide and Seek picked up right where the first episode left up, with Louis de Richet meeting the mysterious Lord Mortimer for the first time. For those of you who need to be caught up, Louis is part of a secret organization called The Golden Order and was invited to the exquisite island of Lord Mortimer after his mother goes missing there.
That being said, Lord Mortimer also invited several notable historical characters like George Washington and Napoleon Bonaparte to his private island, leaving Louis in some interesting company. The Mad Ones spent a lot of time intricately setting up the overarching plot and several character motivations, and Hide and Seek continues that trend by fleshing out Lord Mortimer and introducing Manuel Godoy, head of the Spanish government.
Lord Mortimer has a great gravitas about him, and Godoy has some interesting dynamics with other characters due to Spain’s somewhat troubled status during this period of history. I’m interested in seeing where these characters go as the plot unfolds; sadly these characters don’t really go anywhere in this episode. That being said, Hide and Seek does begin with a captivating plot development: Elizabeth Adams is killed in her room.
This kicks off an investigation into who killed her, which eventually transitions into Louis once again looking for his mother, ending on a cliffhanger in an underground catacomb. This plot thread is the most intriguing part of the episode but doesn’t have a satisfying payoff, a recurring trend in this episode. While I understand wanting to save shocking developments for later in the episodic series, outside of that first death, nothing of substance really happen in Hide and Seek that would keep the episode memorable on its own.
The Council – Episode 2: Hide and Seek is relatively short but still suffers from a sluggish pace, which results in a dull experience. The first episode had a ton of set up to do, so I understand it moving slower, but this episode’s sluggish pace is more tiring than intriguing, which is not what the developers were going for.
It also doesn’t take advantage of some of The Council’s more unique mechanics as much. There were barely any true Confrontation events, and the investigation sequences work out closer to something that you’d see in The Wolf Among Us or Batman: The Telltale Series, rather than the unique playstyle The Council’s first episode set up. Fortunately, the unique Vulnerabilities and Immunities of each character kept me attentive during conversations.
The RPG-like classes and skills are still utilized in Hide and Seek, and usually help bolster some of this episode’s stronger scenes. The Council – Episode 2: Hide and Seek also features some interesting investigation-based puzzles revolving around things like the Bible and the Gregorian Calendar, which are definitely a step up from the simple ones in the first episode.
Technical problems persist in Hide and Seek as well. The character models still do look pretty rough, and most animations are pretty stiff. The Council does try to get around this by being mainly dialogue voices, but I still had lip-syncing issues in many conversations, and a bit of odd sound mixing. A visual glitch during the episode’s final puzzles also stumped me for quite a few minutes before I noticed something had messed up, reloaded, and solved it quickly.
A lot of close-ups in the investigation portions of this episode also highlight some poor environmental and body textures, which would take me out of what were supposed to be captivating moments. With this episode in particular, the frame rate was struggling to keep up, even when there wasn’t much happening on screen. Due to this episode’s performance, I have a sinking feeling that a lack of technical polish will likely be a persistent problem for The Council.
The Council – Episode 2: Hide and Seek does seem like it will be very reliant on the rest of the series, setting up a ton of plot threads up and continuing the historical intrigue introduced in The Mad Ones. This, unfortunately, results in the episode not standing as well on its own, as the plot just meanders along, ending on an unsatisfying cliffhanger after a somewhat frustrating puzzle.
The Council – Episode 2: Hide and Seek does bring more interesting characters and puzzles into the mix, and I am definitely curious to see where The Council’s plot as a whole goes from here. Sadly, Hide and Seek is ultimately a poor follow up to The Mad Ones, resulting in a short, technically flawed, and an overall disappointing episode that has killed some the anticipation I had for future episodes of The Council.