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The Council

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Developer: Big Bad Wolf
Release Date: March 13, 2018

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PC Review - 'The Council' Episode 5 - Checkmate

by Cody Medellin on Dec. 4, 2018 @ 1:00 a.m. PST

The Council is a new episodic narrative adventure game where your choices and character growth truly matter.

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Throughout the previous four episodes, The Council has gone in several different tonal directions. It started off as a political thriller with a bit of the occult thrown in. It took a turn at being a murder mystery before returning to being a mix of political intrigue and a missing persons case. It waffled back and forth between both sides, with some more murder thrown in before the last episode dabbled in the supernatural. We've finally arrived at the final episode, Checkmate, and while it's been a wild ride thus far, the finale isn't exactly what people had expected.

You start the episode with your allies gathered in Lord Mortimer's study. Everyone is committed to voting on Mortimer's plan, but he asks you to convince those against him to vote in his favor, despite rules stating that no interference should occur. The task is far easier than you imagine, but there's a surprise revelation that feels like it comes out of nowhere. However, the revelation doesn't have any emotional impact because there's no clue about how anyone could have known it before, unlike your eventual revelation about your own origins.


From here, you move on to the vote, where another twist is revealed — one that wasn't explained or even hinted at before. From here, you make a choice that can betray the version of Louis you may have had (depending on your previous decisions), making him act way out of character and throwing credibility out the window. The section itself is good, but due to that unbelievable move, the rest of the tale falls apart. The decisions no longer make any sense, as there's no reason why some conclusions are made. To top things off, the final moments come off as silly, and the conclusion is rather abrupt. The only solace for this silliness is that there is the possibility of more than one ending or, at least, a better pathway to get to the same conclusion.

What is puzzling or fortunate, depending on your outlook, is the length of this episode. Each of the acts goes by rather quickly, and there isn't much time diverted from the main objectives presented in each chapter. In fact, without even trying to sprint, the whole episode can be finished in one hour. It's unsatisfying when you consider how long the other episodes were, and you get the feeling that the developers just wanted to reach a conclusion as quickly as possible after the nine-month timespan.


From a gameplay perspective, there's not much left to do here due to the brevity of the episode. You have one conversation battle early on that seems pretty easy to get right. There are only two puzzles to take care of, one of which is only difficult if you aren't listening to the clues, and the other is fairly simple since Louis is very good about telling you if you're on the right track. There are a few major "point of no return" choices, but none of them feel too difficult compared to some of the ones you've had previously.

When looking at the episode alone, The Council: Episode 5 - Checkmate is fairly weak. Its brevity feels rather unfulfilling, and that feeling is only reinforced by some of the abruptness of the decisions made here. When looking at this episode as the conclusion of the season, the abrupt changes aren't enough to cancel out the intriguing story that has developed over the course of the season. Despite the low score given to this episode, the game as a whole lives up to the promise of being different and interesting, and there is hope for the development team's next effort (whatever it may be).

Score: 6.5/10


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