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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


PC Review - 'The Council' Episode 4 - Burning Bridges

by Cody Medellin on Sept. 25, 2018 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

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

Buy The Council

The prior episode of The Council can be a breaking point for some players. The shift from mostly realistic to something that's supernaturally inspired could be considered hokey, despite the few hints of its existence throughout previous episodes. For others, the myriad of technical shortcomings made them give up until those things were patched out. The fourth episode, Burning Bridges, promises some clearer character relationship divisions and a true test of how much choices matter in the game.

We return to the game after the conclusion of the door puzzle in Lord Mortimer's underground tomb. Based on the results of the last playthrough, we're starting with a one-handed Louis because the hidden ax chopped off his hand in a failed puzzle-solving attempt. Once you awaken, you find that your mother has treated your wounds, figured out the puzzle, and opened the door. From here, you're instructed to find the lance that pierced Jesus' side, and since that's hidden among other lances, you'll have to seek the help of the guests who are well-versed in religion to help you out.

Your missing hand should be a big deal for most people since it's very difficult to hide, especially with a large, bloodied bandage where your appendage used to be. It's disappointing that only a few key people even commented on it, almost as if the game were never designed for anyone to comment on your missing hand except for those two people. It breaks the believability, and it's disappointing to see no real variation from failing versus winning the door puzzle.

As shocking as your forced hand removal is, it pales in comparison to you meeting up with Lord Mortimer after your mother's revelation. Without spoiling anything, you find out that your mother's accusations are true, and you're greatly affected by them. This begins to make some sense when you think about some of the mysterious events of the previous episodes, and it also revives any waning interest thanks to some new abilities at your disposal.

Much like your missing hand, however, it seems like the game forgot how to handle one of the failed paths you may take during the surprise revelation. Again, in an effort to keep things vague, there's a chance that you may end a chapter with one person getting killed before you get any information from them. By the start of the next chapter, the game assumes that you got the important information anyway and casually mentions it. The player can quickly gather what that info was in the first place, but it seems like another major disconnect.

As far as the gameplay goes, Burning Bridges features plenty of dialogue battles. The number of dialogue battles in this chapter is probably equal to those featured in all three of the previous episodes combined. As usual, they're the highlight of the series thus far, and the battles remain as tense as ever. There are also a few puzzles that are rather ingenious, but the code deciphering is made more difficult by the fact that the key for creating the code isn't clearly visible, and those who experience bad textures may find that puzzle impossible to complete.

One of the major complaints about the previous episode is how it was technically inferior to the episodes that came before it. In Burning Bridges, you can see that some of those things have been rectified, but other issues remain. The frame rate is still unstable in cut scenes, but it doesn't affect animation much, mostly because you don't have too many prolonged shots of people moving their lips. When exploring, the game is set at 60fps with no drops. Subtitles only went to their native French once, but there were times when subtitles weren't appearing at all. Otherwise, this is a much better effort than before.

The Council: Episode 4 - Burning Bridges is the penultimate episode of the game, and it does a good job of making things interesting again, but it does so with quite a number of flaws intact. The unrealistic reactions to big events are the episode's biggest flaw, as all of those shocking things lose their impact when everyone else fails to make a big deal out of it. At the same time, those new revelations open up things just enough to make the final episode more intriguing. Here's hoping that the finale makes the journey worthwhile.

Score: 7.5/10

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