The Council: Episode 2

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!

The Council: Episode 1

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.

The Enemy Within – Episode 5

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:

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!

The Enemy Within – Episode 4

There isn’t much else to say about this series that I haven’t said. It plays like its predecessors, it continues the story from the first season, and you can affect individual characters more deeply than in other Telltale games (or at least it’s better tracked here). By the end of this episode I had positive results with all of the characters except for Waller, and she was only mad because I sided with John Doe, and honestly at this point I can’t remember exactly what the climax was because I played this episode at least a week ago.

What’s most interesting here is that I set John down the path of being a “vigilante” like Batman. He vowed that we would both clean up the streets of Gotham. I don’t remember anything like this in Joker’s origin story, but I would assume that he will be picking up that moniker sooner rather than later. How Joker will end up being a vigilante I’m not sure, he’s always been a villain to me so I’m not sure how this will pan out. What I suspect is that he will be crushed when Batman tells him that he works alone and will be hell bent on taking out his frustrations on Batman as the Joker — or at least that would help this story to line up with the overall canon we all know. As I noted last episode, this episode had even less major choices in it, and here are the two that they tracked:

Despite Mr. Freeze being a villain I showed a little mercy as Waller’s crew was basically going to kill him. I doubt that will change things between us, but I figured Batman wouldn’t be that cruel hearted to ignore his pleas. After the big climax event of the episode, I let John go off to find Harley himself as she managed to run off. That’s all there was for big choices this time around and that isn’t really indicative of what’s happened throughout the whole episode but it is what it is.

The 5th and final episode of this season isn’t out just yet, but I imagine it will be soon enough. I’ll return then to finish off this blog series. Stay tuned.

The Enemy Within – Episode 3

In Episode three, the story continues with Bruce still embroiled in his dealings with The Pact. But, another familiar face enters the fold and complicates things to say the least. Despite my amorous circumstances with Catwoman in the first season, I didn’t treat her so well this time around and left her feeling betrayed as a consequence. In the first season there was a major story arch where Bruce’s reputation was tarnished and it took careful thought with your reactions in the game to redeem that once pristine status. With this new season there is the inclusion of relationships with individuals that shifts between each episode, so its easier to track and make your moves to benefit you later. For instance, in the last episode I left Harley Quinn hostile towards me but because I was mindful of this I managed to work my way back up to being less skeptical, and that progress is tracked much more quickly this time around. Things have turned around with everyone for the most part, and that seemed important while aligning with my goals.

There have been progressively less major choices as a result of this shift in their tracking mechanics. I have already noted that this is less than the previous episode and the following episode records less — meaning that the interpersonal relationships are a more important focal point in this game. Having experienced it both ways I think I actually like this system better overall but either will work and depending on the subject material that may play a role.

These choices are still pretty indicative of the way the interpersonal relationships turn out. Clearly telling Tiffany that I’m Batman and bringing another Fox into the fold left her feeling honored, and 2 strikes against Catwoman (not warning her and letting John throw her under the bus) affected her Betrayed feelings. I didn’t fall in line with most players on these choices, but I’m okay with how the story has turned out so far and I’m unlikely to ever replay the series so my set of circumstances are fine. It’s been an entertaining ride so far!