Name: The Council — Checkmate
Developer: Big Bad Wolf Entertainment
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Released: 04.12.2018
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC
Reviewed on: PC
Acquired: A copy of this game was provided from publisher for review purpose

The end of The Council has arrived, and I’ve played the final episode Checkmate no less than three times — in order to find out what consequences my actions had. It’s been a long and strange journey, and I am gonna miss it. One question remains, however, how did it all shape up in the end?

Story

As expected, the fifth and final episode starts out where the fourth ended. The meeting is coming to an end, with the state of Louisiana at stake, and in order to make this happen, I had to convince the other attendants to join my standpoint. And honestly I screwed up — I was a bit quick to select an answer, without thinking what I might be saying by selecting it, and suddenly Duke Godoy had turned on me. Luckily, the developers smoothly made Lord Mortimer fix my mistake and the given story could continue — and here’s the main issue I had with the episode, up until the final choice my choices didn’t feel like they had any consequences.

It’s difficult to write about the story without spoiling anything, so I’ll keep it short – for my part the final reveal of a plot twist was way too easy to see coming from far away, which took away some of the magic. In addition, the developers are heavily dependent on mystical powers to keep the story (sort of) making sense, and it feels like they haven’t found any good way of explaining why certain things happen, neither with Louis nor the other attendees.

The Council - Checkmate - (2)

My main issue though is the fact I have so many questions that haven’t been answered. What happened to Elizabeth Adams? Why did Sarah disappear for only to appear again? What happened to the Golden Order? I mean, yes, there’s a short summary of each characters’ story at the absolute end, but it doesn’t really answer any of my questions.
5/10

(Note that the graphics through replay value is taken from the review of the first episode)

Graphics

The graphics in The Council are, unfortunately, only so-so. Even though the textures themselves don’t look too bad, the objects still look rather cheaply made. When it comes to the characters, which include George Washington and Napoleon Bonaparte, they look a bit out of place in the world, and there are a lot of small bugs when it comes to Louis interacting with the world. On the plus side, I must praise the game for making each character stand out, visually. I instantly recognized the characters, even from afar. And the whole Dishonored-style they’ve gone for isn’t too bad either. Unfortunately, though, it all pretty much folds when the voice acting is mentioned, Louis is too monotone, yet somehow was too excited when he talks (also, if he’s supposed to be French, why does he speak American?). The other characters too has mediocre voicing as well and I kept thinking to myself how I could make at least as good of a job myself.
5/10

The Council - Checkmate - (1)

Gameplay

Here I can start out with saying, there’s mostly good news! The game has several difficult choices, for example, whether you should help President Washington or spy on the mysterious Holm. Not only does it urge the player to think through the consequences, but it also made me think about what I as a person think is important to know. The Council is mostly a choice based game, but with some RPG elements as well. It must be said that some of the skills seem too powerful, and some too weak, so far – but that might change once the game has progressed a little further.

In addition to said things, there are some puzzles and “confrontations” to get the most out of each scenario. Fail these and you might miss some important plot points. There’s also quite a bit of collection throughout the world. Although all of it seems to be optional, it certainly helps when it comes to getting skill points and reading more manuscripts (which, in turn, helps you get skills). I do wish there were more consumables to find out and around, but at least it made the opportunities of getting all information from an NPC rarer, and therefore I had to really think through whether or not I needed all information at any given time.
7/10

The Council - Checkmate - Logo

Controls

Unfortunately, the controls are absolutely horrible. Even at the maximum sensitivity, the camera and steering are way too slow. It is a little bit better with a controller, but it’s still nothing to cheer for. It doesn’t help that several times, when I tried to choose an answer, the game froze up and I needed to press the button several times before the game started working again.
3/10

Replay Value

So far, it seems like The Council actually has real consequences. When I played the last part of episode one a second time, there were some major differences to the ending cliffhanger. If that keeps up, the replay value will certainly stay high! I am impressed, at least so far.
8/10

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Overall
5.6/10
5.6/10
  • Story - 5/10
    5/10
  • Graphics - 5/10
    5/10
  • Gameplay - 7/10
    7/10
  • Controls - 3/10
    3/10
  • Replay Value - 8/10
    8/10
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User Review
0 (0 votes)

Verdict

My time with The Council has been pretty good, yet I can’t help but feel a slight disappointment that the developers didn’t do more with the story. I loved the setting. I adored trying to find out what was happening, but in the end, it all felt rather pointless, since none of the mysterious events got any conclusion. Personally, I felt like Elizabeth was the best-written character, and she only featured in the first episode – much to my disappointment. I do think that Big Bad Wolf Entertainment can produce a really great RPG/narrative game, I truly do, The Council just isn’t the one. Keep me posted if they develop a game featuring another insane character like Elizabeth though, ‘cause that would be something I’d sit up at night to play immediately.

Pros

  • Had so much potential
  • Choices do have (some) consequences
  • Cool puzzles

Cons

  • Had so much potential, without using it
  • Some stuttering
  • Quite a few bugs
  • The controls

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