You can get plenty of historical fiction in video games. Every famous historical figure seems to live a double life where they're secretly responsible for a ton of weird things. The Council was no exception to this. The first episode introduced a mysterious island where historical figures gather to plan their next move. Combining a fun mystery with great RPG elements, I found myself ready to return to the world. Hide and Seek is the second episode, and it promptly killed that interest.
The first episode ended with Elizabeth Adams mysteriously turning up dead. Naturally, Louis De Richet is one of the suspects, especially since his mother still hides somewhere on Mortimer's island. In addition to this, Mortimer's final guest shows up. Spain's Secretary of State, Manuel Godoy, joins the party with the lovely news of France's King Louis XVI's execution by way of guillotine. With many of the nobility in the party upset and tensions beginning to run high, Louis needs to continue searching for his mother while figuring out how to clear his name.
This plot moves absolutely nowhere. I can't think of a single event in Hide and Seek that actually matters at all to the overall plot. The most important event is finally getting to meet Mortimer, the mysterious host of the party. Upon meeting him you share a few words then move on, learning nothing. A couple of characters get a little more development, most notably Jacques Peru, but a majority of the characters either hide in their rooms or only have a few lines. Much of this is probably because of the episode's extremely short running time. While The Mad Ones lasted a solid four to five hours, Hide and Seek didn't even hit two. It felt like, right as the plot was starting to pick up again, the episode was over.
So without much of anything happening, what's the point of this episode? It seems like Hide and Seek serves as a dumping ground for many terrible and obtuse puzzles. For example, one required me to discover hidden texts behind paintings, then use them to find notes hidden in Bible pages. After a while, I discovered it was just easier to go through and literally select every single page one at a time. After all, there was no consequence for trying to brute force it.
Worse, the RPG elements can't help at all for most of them. One puzzle's solution required doing the previous' puzzle's solution in reverse. Took a break between these two puzzles like I did? Well, I hope you wrote the answer down. The game gave me three different skills I could use on the lock, but every skill just had my character deduce, using different methods, that I needed the aforementioned solution. There was no way to use my skills to actually recall the answer. Nearly every puzzle is like this, with my skills only providing more flavor text instead of helping me solve anything. Even the one puzzle I did like, which had me figuring out which statue to stab a stone sword into so I could activate a switch without poisoning myself, had no use for my skills.
It's almost baffling when I think about the RPG elements. I thought the first episode of The Council had so many creative ways to make them useful. Here, they're nearly all flavor text. One that stood out in my mind saw Louis find some tools on what is clearly a dissection table. I saw that I could use my science skill to get some extra knowledge from this, so I did so. This caused Louis to state out loud that, indeed, this was a table meant for dissecting things. Outside of the conversations, I couldn't think of a single time where my skills helped.
I don't think I've ever gotten whiplash like I have here. It's so strange how The Council's first episode genuinely had me hopeful and excited for what sort of content I'd be seeing in the future. After finishing Hide and Seek, I'm simply devastated. Never before have I seen a single episode completely destroy all excitement I had for a series. I really want this to be a fluke and for things to turn around. I can only hope this is the case.
The Council - Episode 2: Hide and Seek was reviewed on PlayStation 4 using a copy provided by the developers. The game is also available on PC and Xbox One.
The Council's second episode, Hide and Seek, seems to do everything wrong. The puzzles are obtuse and don't make use of the game's RPG elements, the plot's forward momentum is totally killed, and it's way too short.
- A Few Decent Puzzles
- Interesting General Setting
- Plot Goes Nowhere
- Wasted RPG Elements
- Many Terrible Puzzles
- Extremely Short