Focus Home Interactive and Cyanide Studios have delivered it’s own brand of murder mystery investigation in The Council. This Victorian-period narrative in drench in occult undertones delivered though a word-smith battle arena that can effect the events of the game.
The beginning scene of episode one presents a man and woman, tied up, mother and son. No, please don’t stop reading! It’s not a kinky thing, they’re being held hostage by generic Englishman, Lord Whipthart (I made up some names to protect the script). Said lord is trying to recover a stolen artifact that is obviously a bit of a big deal. Nathan Drake would certainly approve.
No one speaks of The Council
The Council even has a secret society that tries to even the odds against the bad guys whenever possible, guess its name! As my readers know, this writer hates giving away plot points. But what one will say is, players may recognise certain historical figures littering the halls and rooms of The Councils world á la Assassin’s Creed.
Also, players should expect buckets of unanswered questions and angst through out the series first two episodes. Although episode two does immediately solve a cliff hangar of sorts, things only unravel further. This writer’s question is will the series be able to harness that hold it has on their immersed players for another three episodes?
The Council is mostly well presented graphics wise, displaying amazingly realistic water textures and animations being the most noticeable for this writer. The atmospheric lighting makes the games scenery pop and also adds that tension we all crave in games such as this. Most of the in game world is well realized in all honesty.
The menu systems are nice and pretty and are also easily navigated by players using a cursor to get around. However, this writer did think that the third person perspective was a little too zoomed in. This could have been a great opportunity for immersion and for Cyanide to show of its beautiful assets! It can also make clue spotting a little awkward at times.
Beautiful Displays of Gurning
The protagonist has been the heavy focus and wonton love child of a artist or artists. Similarities can be drawn to Rock stars LA Noire in terms of facial animation and depth. However, its clear both titles had budgets and teams at opposite ends of the scale.
The problem is with the players protagonist is whilst he is well animated and textured, animations and lip syncing is well, out of sync! Expressions are free of all constraints as extremities take hold. For example, a dead pan face during a chat can turn into a scrunched up rape face just because the protagonist thought about his mother’s handkerchief.
He’s Behind You!
The NPCs walk around as if part of a pantomime, animations are far to flamboyant and expressive to become believable. A grumpy gent will be literally flash dancing at players whilst explaining his distaste for Sir. Arthwipes short stories for example. And not just that, our protagonists love interest has a pair of top bollocks that big they might invert a curved TV. Don’t go to The Council, ’tis a silly place!
The framework that holds this expedition is certainly a study one, what I like to call “The Word-Smith Arena”. Again, like LA Noire players are charged with manipulating, chairing up or plain investigation work as they chat to various NPCs for clues and so forth. However, its not just as simple as that!
What Say You Sir?
Confrontations happen at major plot points which gives you a breathing space of three bluffs in you initially fail to woo your subject. Confrontations contain a number of stages which ends in a positive convincing statement to close things off. Sometimes they can be a little sketchy and unbelievable.
Protagonist: “Yeah, sound ar kid”
Cpl. Fapandsit: “Ok, here’s the keys to my wife, bank vault and a list of 18 refugees I need you to safe guard”.
You know, that kind of thing.
Players also have access to 3 skill trees which are Occoultist, Politician and Detective. Players use said trees to diversify there options during conversations to unlock new dialogue options which will help them on their way!
As with all other games in it’s genre, clues are key and are littered around the game world, more so in episode two. It’s nearly impossible to not always keep an eye out for something, so stay vigilant and comb that mansion!
The soundtrack is more or less atmospheric. One often forgot it was there. With the game not being action heavy and more narrative based, his wasn’t much of an issue. And one thinks this is to the series credit!
The Council is a promising series that could do with that little bit of polish. Better voice acting or direction would be brilliant. One had flashbacks of cross dressing priests at the Christmas pantomime when one was a child. Not to mention, I was Catholic! The series is off to a great start, this writer is what to see if this momentum can be kept up for another three episodes. Fingers crossed!
Formats: PS4 Pro (reviewed), Xbox One, Steam
Price: £5.79 / €6.61 per episode, £24.99 / €28.52 for the season
Publisher: Focus home Interactive
Developer: Cyanide Studios
Release Date: Various
Age Rating: PEGI 16+
Review copy provided by publisher