I’m as surprised as you are that I’m even able to write this post, but here we are. A couple of weeks ago, TellTale announced that they were essentially bankrupt and that they were laying off all but 25 employees. This came after the release of the Final Season of The Walking Dead, where we would finally see the end of Clementine’s journey. The first episode released a while back and I wrote about my experience. Another story from a few months back says that TellTale and Netflix were teaming up to create a Stranger Things game (for other platforms) along with some Minecraft interactive thing on the streaming service. It sounded like the company was doing fine fiscally at that point, but apparently things were different behind closed doors. During the layoff announcement, the company admitted that episode two was ready and would still release, so that’s the only reason we get to even talk about it today as it came out last week. Episode three was due out in November and the finale would be released in December. At this point it’s unclear if those two episodes will see the light of day. Rumors state that the third episode was basically done but very little work has been put into episode four, and that the company might be shopping around to get those finished. I suppose we will see what happens — I really hope it gets finished because I’d love to have played through them all and see how the story ends.
This episode was a little different than some of the prior seasons in that there were some third-person shooter elements that haven’t ever really been present in these interactive novels. The game is still on rails but there are segments that are a bit more action packed than the norm. When I had left off at the end of episode one, AJ had just shot and killed Marlon, and we were basically being asked to leave. Things were put to a vote and we left. One the way out, we’re attacked by raiders, one of which is a character from way back in season one, a character which I (playing as Lee) had left behind once we got on the train. She took a little bit of pity on me, delaying capture and then some of the kids from the school attacked and enabled our escape. AJ was unfortunately hit by some buck shot, and carrying him became an issue as walkers were alerted by the skirmish. This meant a fight scene with walkers, before one of them (clearly wearing a mask) stops me and leads me off to his camp. This guy doesn’t play too integral a part in this episode but I have a feeling he would have been back. He helps me with nursing AJ’s wounds and then helps me back to the school. The school kids know that the raiders will be back and grudgingly accept my help in fortifying the school. I’m welcomed to stay for a while. The attack happens, people die, and at the end a couple of them are captured. We vow to go after our comrades, and can do so with the help of one of the wounded raiders still at the school after the larger group retreats.
Normally this is where I would slot in some screenshots of the results. They displayed after I had completed the episode but I didn’t take screenshots because usually you can check your choices from the main menu. For some reason things bugged out, and I was unable to see those results. I assume this has to do with not being able to connect to TellTale servers, which usually display the stats for choices and perhaps those servers are down due to the company’s recent actions. Whatever the case, I hope this is something that is fixed going forward if they do end up making the final two episodes, but again we don’t know if that’s going to happen. Whatever the case, I have enjoyed the season thus far, it’s just a shame that we may never know how Clementine’s adventures end.
The third episode of The Council released this past week and I missed the announcement, but managed to get it installed and completed by yesterday afternoon. Picking up right where the prior season left off, we have entered the catacombs in search of our main character’s mother. She ends up not being around, but one of Mortimer’s henchmen has been killed. President Washington finds you with the dead body and for whatever reason doesn’t immediately believe you to be the murderer, but wants you to attend the big meeting the entire story is centered upon, since your mother is still missing. Here’s where the meat and potatoes of the episode gets going.
Without being too spoilery, the meeting starts off with a fairly split group and only a few days to reach a conclusion via vote. You’re tasked with swaying some of the members’ votes, and then things go from bad to worse. A couple of main characters die. You finally find your mother. The supernatural is brought into question and sort of threw me for a loop. See, I was enjoying the fact that this was a political drama and though there are many religious and mythological references throughout, it was still seated in reality. It’s reminiscent of films such as The Da Vinci Code. At a certain point in my playthrough, supernatural forces are revealed to be at work (or perhaps the character making this revelation has gone mad) and this nearly lost me. I’m still suspending my disbelief, but I think the political intrigue and mystery elements were enough without introducing “demons” as a motivating factor for bad things to happen. How 18th century. Nonetheless, I’ll save my judgement for now because perhaps the person talking about demons is just crazy and we can get back to a more realistic viewpoint of the game. Here are my results through the next three chapters:
Overall I’m still enjoying this narrative adventure. Again, I’ll save my judgement until I can judge the series as a whole, but I do hope that it steers away from the lazy, supernatural answers it posed to give during episode three. Time will tell.
The second episode of The Council released last Tuesday, and I managed to complete it over the weekend. Fair warning, there will be some spoilers in this post, so if you’re playing the game you might want to see things through before reading on.
Similar to the first episode, you’ll run around as Mr. De Richet still looking for clues as to your mother’s whereabouts, and performing various tasks in the interim. During the course of this episode however, some bad things are afoot, and your detective skills will come into play. We finally meet the owner of the island manor, and the final guest (the leader of Spain) arrives. One of the women you met in the first episode is brutally murdered, and what appears to be some sort of pagan or satanic ritual has transpired. You are charged with finding out who killed her, and at one point are able to give your opinion as to who might have done it. I threw one guy under the bus, only to need his help in getting out of a locked room later on. Further clues seem to point towards your mother’s involvement with thing going on around the island.
The gameplay is identical to the first episode, though my play through featured less confrontations during dialogue. Most of my time was spent examining the crime scene, questioning guests, and exploring the manor, including a portion of the exterior (garden) all the while picking up consumables and books to earn skill points, along with solving a number of different puzzles. At the very end of the episode, I had just opened an underground passage leading under the garden hedge maze, where I found the body of one of the manor’s servants. A cliffhanger ending, we’ll have to wait a while to see what happens next. Here were my results from the three quests in the episode:
Overall I still really enjoy this game. It’s a little slow paced, but it is engaging in a way that most games aren’t these days. I look forward to the next episode!
I didn’t hear about The Council while it was in development. I didn’t even know it had released, but spotted it on the Playstation Store recently, and was intrigued by this lead photo. Clearly there are some historically impactful people in that picture, and I was interested to see what it had to offer. The description of the game led me to believe that it was a “choices matter” style of narrative adventure, and this is what you can expect. You could point to similarities between this title and the variety of Telltale Games’ well-known series, but honestly it’s more akin to Monkey Island than any of their recent titles. Still, it can be said that if you enjoy Telltale’s narrative style you will probably enjoy this game and your choices do matter. However there is a bit of depth added to this game that wasn’t present in many of TTG’s. First of all, you’re given the ability to choose a class:
I rolled with becoming an Occultist because it sounds rad, and honestly it doesn’t really matter which one you choose due to the fact that your gameplay (choices) can open up the other options. Furthermore, you’re presented with a set of skills based on your class, all that will start at level 1. You can further level these skills using points granted to you as you gain experience. Different actions you take within the game accrue this experience, and it is given to you when you complete “quests.” These are quests as you would think of them in the RPG sense, because you are only walking around from room to room scavenging for clues and having the periodic conversation with the other characters. But things are tallied up at the end of these quests and you’ll gain more points to acquire more skills. Some can be later unlocked by reading books and performing actions so then you can put your leveling points into those as well to open further actions and dialogue options. The game will point out when you lack a certain skill and you’ll know that you’ve missed a certain path that could have been taken if you had it.
There are parts that require your attention, such as puzzles and conversational battles of wits. Confrontations only allow you to make so many mistakes, and your dialogue options will change as your skills do. You have an effort bar that will be used to perform certain actions or use dialogue options that pertain to skills and there are consumables to refill this bar (and remove negative conversational effects). I guess this is starting to feel more like an RPG after all! Opportunities are more like the QTE’s you’d be familiar with from Telltale games. They do help you on your way though so you should be paying attention while you play this game.
At the end of your missions, aside from gaining XP and being able to spend your points, you’ll also get a breakdown of ways you succeeded and ways that you failed during that quest. Alternative pathways are also presented, presuming you’d want to play through another time. I was halfway tempted once I saw the trophy list, as many of the achievements will require additional playthroughs, but I believe I’ll wait until I’ve played through the additional episodes. It’s an intriguing political romp, where you’re rubbing elbows with the people who rule the world in their day and age. I won’t spoil anything as this is a fairly new title, but it was very enjoyable and I look forward to more! It’s unclear at this point as to when episode 2 will release, but if we typically expect episodic content at a fairly rapid clip I expect you’ll hear more about it from me within a couple of months. The Council is also available on Steam.
Another season of Telltale’s Batman series has come to a close. This series has been full of twists and turns and it was surprising to see how it ended. In all honesty, it was left as a cliffhanger ending (at least with my choices made) and it’s pretty clear that it was left open for a third season. There haven’t been many of the Telltale series that have made it that far though, so we shall see but the way it was written I imagine we’ll see more of Batman in the future. Here’s how things shook up with my relationships by the end of episode 5:
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I like the amount of detail that was put into these choices and how they affected your relationship with people. Seeing the “your relationship with so and so has changed” really makes you think twice about the decisions you made throughout the season. If I was so inclined I could play through it again making different selections and I’m sure these relationships would have ended up differently, but surprisingly I made similar choices to most people, percentage wise. The big part of the story here was how your relationship with John Doe turned him towards being a vigilante, but of course being the mentally-unstable Joker means that he can’t be bothered with Batman’s “code.” As such, he still turns out to be a villain, particularly because he’s going after the Agency rather than real criminals. There are bits where it points to the Agency being no better than the bad guys though, so I had trouble walking the line between being John’s friend and doing what’s right. It was neat to see Joker-rangs and his silly grappling hook and other devices. What shocked me most was seeing Alfred leave at the end… and not really having any closure on the Joker front. Regardless, it was a great series and I look forward to more.
There were more tracked choices in this episode again which was warranted. A bunch of things happened that affected relationships and the story in this episode. The only one I’m really not happy with is the first, only because there was a timed response needed and I think I was distracted at that moment so I “hesitated” during the attack. I would have chosen to help the clown over the agent, only because he seemed like a scumbag anyway. Tiffany became a nightwing-esque character and that was interesting. As I said, I stood up for John when I could, and that pissed off Waller though we made our peace before the end of the line. I suppose I could have chosen to give up being Batman and maybe Alfred would have stayed, but how do you give up being Batman?! I defeated Joker and he ended up back in Arkham, but we all know he won’t stay there.
All in all it was a great series and I look forward to more!