The Council: Episode Two:- Hide and Seek – PS4 | Review

The Council: Episode Two:- Hide and Seek – PS4 | Review

Right on time, almost exactly two months since the initial release of The Council: Episode One:- The Mad Ones, we have part two avaliable for Season Pass holders (For everyone else, it will be avaliable on the 17th May). One of the biggest worries with episodic games is “when is the next episode coming” and if this is anything to go by, it looks like the team at Big Bad Wolf are sticking to their original timescale of every two months, which is fair enough. The Council: Episode Two:- Hide and Seek starts off right where we left off in Episode One, which can be in one of a few different scenarios. Due to this, and that I don’t want to post any spoilers, There are two recaps/story updates below, choose the one which suits what ending you got within your adventure.

Also, there will be mild spoilers in regards to what happens in the first episode in general, so if you are currently playing Episode One, or if you plan to do so sometime in the future, please skip the next section between the images.

Yeah, just how do you feel?

General Story:
The Council: Episode One:- The Mad Ones took us on an intense journey of trust, betrayal, lies, and secrets, as we played through its opening chapters. Our protagonist, Louis de Richet, has ventured to a small isolated island in search of his mother who had attended this residence a short time earlier yet has now vanished from the face of the Earth. Upon arrival, you are introduced to a set of high calibre guests, such as Napoleon Bonaparte, George Washington and Cardinal Giuseppe Piaggi. Feeling a little out of place, you proceed to investigate the house whilst also spend time getting to know the guests in order to uncover any hint, tips, and motives you may find.

Louis feels like he is on a wild goose chase looking for his mother as she proceeds to elude his grasp at every moment in this thrilling tale of cat and mouse, just who is which is another story! We know that we are here to try and uncover who our mother was trying to sell a valuable book to, but we don’t know who they are. We also don’t know why we initially had a vision of our mother killing one of the other guests upon docking on the island. We set out to help those who ask, investigate anything which could lead to more information, make meaningful choices on what to do next and uncover the truth at Lord Mortimer’s mansion behind everything that’s going on.

The game looks as beautiful as ever – the paintings on the walls are incredible.

Branches:

If your ending involved going with Dutchess Emily Hillsborrow, then click here

After a day of thrilling excitement, puzzles and investigations, you decide to follow the Duchess to her room in order to take her up on her offer for ‘further investigations’. This leads to a hot night of steamy sex between the two characters which eventually leads to us waking up alone. As we get dressed and enter the next room, we are met by none other than Lord Mortimer himself who is just sat there awaiting us. And thus, we arrive at Episode Two: Hide and Seek.

After a short chat with our host, we learn of a tragedy which had occurred overnight whilst we were in the presence of the Duchess, thus clearing our name due to our solid alibi. As such, Lord Mortimer gives us the task to search everyone’s room, find clues and interview all the guests. Quite why he asks us is a little confusing at first, maybe it’s because he knows about our previous night and feels we are the only one he can trust; or is there more to it than that? Once you have finished your investigations, you proceed into the ‘common’ story thread below.

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If your ending involved choosing to have a drink with Elizabeth Adams, then click here

After a day of thrilling excitement, puzzles and investigations, you decide to wind down and take up Miss Adams on her offer to be a shoulder to cry on. She invited you into her room under the pretence that she needs your help and wishes to lay her troubles on you. However, this leads to a few drinks, drinks which you find out were lined with drugs. You end up passing out and thus begins a new day. As you awake, you notice blood on the floor and all around you – what the hell had happened? Suddenly, you see the tragic incident – Miss Adams lies there, dead in a pool of blood with multiple knife wounds in her body and the bloody knife on the ground. Without warning, in bursts various people who see you stood over the recently deceased; then the episode cuts… Onto Episode Two: Hide and Seek.

The episode begins with us finally introduced to our host, Lord Mortimer, although we wished it was under happier circumstances. We aren’t participating in a friendly chat, rather an interrogation as we are believed to be prime suspect number one. We have no alibi for our night, as we were with the late Elizabeth Adams, and we were found over the dead body by multiple people. As such, we are treated as guilty for the most-part of Chapter six and thus we are locked out of certain information about what had happened. Once we manage to clear our name, the story arcs back into the ‘common’ thread below.

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Common story:
After the events above, we once again set out to try and find our mother whilst also investigate the events of the previous night. We are introduced to new areas of the property, including the outside gardens, uncover new information on what our mother is up to, and build new alliances with the guests – as well as get introduced to yet another new face. There aren’t many puzzles in Episode Two, but there is one which I remember clearly which had me stumped for a while. The running length is also shorter, at around 2-3 hours to complete this episode with it’s shorter 3 chapters.

This episode isn’t as eventful as the first one, however, I believe it is building it up towards the next one, which should be with us in two months, as there appears to be four possible endings [major choices/discoveries] based upon the information you uncover and the branches you choose to go down. If these are like the ones in Episode One, then I imagine each one will ultimately have a knock-on effect in chapter 9 and beyond. That being said, this episode didn’t excite me as much as the first either. Yeah, I had fun and the episode was entertaining and insightful to play, but it felt like too much of a ‘filler’ episode. Although, I am now hyped around the next episode! I’ve played Episode Two 3 times and each time I’ve once again uncovered new information, had different conversations and been to alternate locations – this series is amazing and I can’t recommend it enough to fans of the Tell-Tale narrative style genre.

It had to be done! Funnily enough, it wasn’t the word they were looking for!

I won’t go into detail on the mechanics of the game here, for that please check out my original review of The Council: Episode One:- The Mad Ones as I go into detail there. However, what I will say is that the RPG-style skill tree works wonders here. Because you are constantly adding to your selection of skills and increasing your level of each one in-between chapters, literally everything is different upon a second playthrough. Even if you chose and received the same ending to the first episode, people will offer more or less insight in Episode Two based on your skills, you won’t be able to push in certain directions if you aren’t well equipt for certain scenarios, and hints and tips on your current situation only become clear if your character is well educated in certain fields. It all works brilliantly and opens the game up to multiple replays and trying new things.

One thing that’s a massive let down, which I’ll be sure to let the developers know about, is the trophies. I know why they have done this, I just don’t like it as it’s suddenly become a simple Tell-Tale game, something they need to steer clear of asap! I believe they have omitted any story-based trophies from chapter two onwards so that spoilers aren’t out there which tell people what is happening – such as one to ‘investigate event X’ or ‘talk to Y about Z’. So I can see their point here, but why not have general trophies around the common story arc? Or at least add a set of ‘DLC’ trophies upon launch of the episode which adds in these optional trophies – that way there are no spoilers until release day and by then, most people will have played it anyway.

This annoyed me slightly though, as episode one had episode-specific trophies within the list, trophies which got you to replay in order to do new things and try and unlock them. Now they are out of the way, the only trophies are ‘Get to level 15’ and ‘complete chapter X’ – that’s about it. Don’t get me wrong, the story was so thrilling that I’ve played chapter two numerous times already and I’m halfway through another playthrough, but having that guidance and set goals to try and achieve would have made it a little more special in my eyes.

We get to venture outside int his episode for a brief stroll.

One thing I did notice with the launch of this episode, which may or may not be real, but it’s something which stuck out for me, is the increased quality of the lip-syncing. Episode One was okay but it did sometimes look like the characters were literally dogs trying to eat a sweet whilst talking – or an English dub over a Japanese movie. But Episode Two seems a lot more realistic and like they have gone back and made alterations. I can’t see this mentioned in the patch notes, only that they have made ‘improvements’, so I can’t be 100% sure what happened but it does seem better.

However, not everything is great. There were quite a few occasions where characters were auditioning to be on Britains got talent with their amazing party trick! Quite a few times, various characters would be talking yet their lips were sealed tight – they could give Jeff Dunham a run for his money with the ventriloquist acts they were pulling off! It doesn’t happen a lot of times but it is noticeable. We also have the return of the dreaded ‘blinding lights’ issue. One noticeable part is in the first common story puzzle where you must read through bible passages – as you select the Bible, the lamp in front of you basically makes the text bleed out of existence. This makes picking an option hard as you can’t read some of the choices. There is a simple fix to this – give the text a thin outline in black – it would resolve the issue instantly.

This leads me to the other issue – the puzzle itself. Now, It may just be me and I may be really stupid, but I found this initial Bible-based puzzle to be pretty tricky and I resorted to trial and error instead. I know there are clues around you and you can read things to gain intel on what to do, but I’m not well informed on the Bible and it’s passages so it got me a little confused. The proceeding puzzle outside was easy enough though. There just wasn’t enough puzzles within this episode. Again – this is a filler episode where it’s main focus is on investigation and information building, but I would have liked more things to think about.

This office is magnificent.

All-in-all, this is another fine example of how to deliver a great story-based narrative game where your choices matter and shapes the events that proceed them. True, some of the changes are subtle and not story-affecting but coupled with the skill tree which unlocks various new dialogue options and pathways, The Council offers so much replayability and makes you really think about your next choice and dialogue option. Two things I would change – provide DLC-based trophies which give us set ‘goals’ to try and achieve as each new episode comes out, and put an outline on the text. If these were added then this amazing game would become even more ‘amazing-er’!

If you’re looking at picking this game up then I strongly recommend the Season pass as not only will you save money on it compared to buying each part on their own, but you will also gain access to the new episodes two days early. For instance, Episode Two is out on the 17th (Thursday) but for Season Pass and the ‘Complete Season’ holders, you gain them today (on the 15th). The only issue is that you have two months between episodes. I usually don’t like episodic releases as I tend to forget what I’ve done by the time the next one comes out, but with The Council, I remember vividly exactly what I did in each of my three saved playthroughs.

Official Trailer:

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Final Conclusion:
The Council – Episode 2: Hide and Seek is yet another brilliant episode which delves deeper into the mysteries and madness which are happening at Lord Mortimer’s mansion. Starting out with 30-60 minutes of new content which is based on how you ended the first episode, the game continues to embrace the various paths and choices which you have as a player as you play the way you want to play. Episode Two isn’t as deep or exciting as the first episode, but there is a lot of set-up and secrets to uncover which will no doubt crop up in future episodes. On top of resolving issues, fixing bugs and updating the lip-syncing, the engine remains the same and runs perfectly with no issues or glitches. If you like story-based narrative games then you really should have this in your library by now, if not then you are missing out on a thrilling adventure of lies, trust, mystery and loyalty.

**A code for the game was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes**

Developer: Big Bad Wolf / Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Release date: 15/05/18 (Season Pass holder) – 17/05/18 (Everyone else)
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC (Steam)
Platform Reviewed on: PS4 Pro

The Council - Episode 2: Hide and Seek

£5.79
The Council - Episode 2: Hide and Seek
8.8

Final Score

8.8 /10

Pros

  • Adaptive story which begins differently based on how you ended episode one
  • Lip-syncing seems better in this update
  • Very intriguing and interesting story
  • Puzzles which get you to think and investigate for the answers to solve them
  • it looks like there are four possible endings (five including uncovering none of them) which will bleed into the next episodes

Cons

  • Doesn't seem as exciting as the first episode (more like a filler episode of information and exploration)
  • Only a few puzzles and custom interactions - mainly following the story
  • No additional episode-specific trophies