As far as episodic series have gone, The Council has had a bit of a turbulent trip so far. I've never seen a series vary in quality as hard as this one, and each new episode makes me wonder what I'm in for this time. We're now at the penultimate episode, and it feels like a do or die moment for the season. Is Burning Bridges going to keep the momentum going, or are a few too many bridges burnt?
Picking up where the last episode left off, Burning Bridges opens with Louis and his mother entering the catacombs under Mortimer's mansion. It's here that Louis learns that his mom believes both Mortimer and his best friend Gregory are demons, though if this is actually true or if she has lost her mind is up in the air. What is certainly true: somewhere in Mortimer's basement is the Holy Spear. So the two devise a plan to get it and get out.
Much like the last episode, Burning Bridges benefits from actually moving the plot forward. Several more story threads wrap up, and I continue to enjoy the weird soap opera-styled nature of the plot. There's ridiculous surprise siblings, shocking family revelations, and characters you just know are standing out in the rain thinking about how to shame their rivals. It's difficult to turn away from in the same way that I'd watch a bad TV drama with glee.
You'll once again be talking to characters and using special skills to try and influence their decisions. About halfway through the episode, Louis gains a new ability to assist him with this. I can't really describe the ability or explain how he gets it without diving deep into spoiler territory. Trust me, it's a game changer.
However, it seems weird that The Council would wait until halfway through the penultimate episode to introduce a new mechanic. As such, you don't really get a lot of opportunities to shine. I can only hope I have a chance to explore this power fully in the last episode.
There's also a focus on only a couple of big puzzles that your skills can assist with, rather than many small puzzles that they can't. This time around your goal is to try and figure out which of the many lances in Mortimer's basement is the Holy Lance. There are several characters you can talk to, Bible passages to read, pieces of art to examine, and more. Each of these allows you to come up with your own conclusion, or have Louis spend skill points to point out some facts. Later in the game, you also need to solve a code, once again allowing you to figure it out on your own or spend points to assist you. I'm glad the game continues down this road. It makes the puzzles far more interesting.
The downside is that, now that I have enough levels to know all the skills, it feels like there's only one solution to each puzzle. I loved how the first episode had multiple solutions to each puzzle. You could figure out different solutions by having different skills. Here Louis has leveled up so many times that he basically knows and can act on everything. Worse, the game seems to expect this, so it encourages Louis to try all options to find that one answer, rather than rewarding players who specialize in a few specific skills.
I also noticed this episode had more glitches than the last few. In more than one scene, mouths completely stopped moving. This glitch left me wondering who was speaking and who was just thinking out loud. Characters got stuck in weird animation loops that rarely fit the scene they were in. One scene saw Louis get stuck shaking his head while another character monologues at him. Even when I had Louis agree with what he said, Louis continued to shake his head in denial. Things like this really pulled me out of the moment.
The Council is still in a weird place. Penultimate episode Burning Bridges does a couple things right, but it's not really making me that excited for the finale. The season has been rocky so far, and another iffy episode doesn't help matters. Maybe the finale can redeem everything, but at the current time, it's going to be a hard sell for anyone who's looking for a Telltale replacement.
Burning Bridges manages to keep The Council's plot going and introduces an interesting new mechanic. However, it is also glitchy and fails to deliver the puzzling fun of the past few episodes.
- Plot Keeps Moving
- Interesting New Conversation Mechanic
- Not Enough Use for Skills