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It’s difficult to accurately describe The Council’s visual style. The game’s character models tend to look reasonably realistic but at the same time somewhat exaggerated. However, the game doesn’t go full cartoon either, and as a result manages to create a distinct and memorable look. The only negative thing about The Council’s character’s models are some glaring clipping issues, but those tend to be limited to sleeves, collars and shoes, and after a while you learn to filter them out.
And when it comes to environments, navigating Lord Mortimer’s mansion is akin to walking around a museum. The rooms and corridors are detailed and densely decorated with classical art and period-appropriate knick-knacks. The decorations also tend to follow certain themes, which greatly enhances the game’s overall atmosphere. The density, though, is a bit of a double-edged sword, since when paired with the game’s dark palette, you may have some trouble spotting interactable objects. In order to help you out there, the game highlights those objects with a blue glow. On the one hand, I generally dislike such hints, on the other, without them, I wouldn’t be able to locate anything in this particular case.
As for the soundtrack, it’s good and fits the game just well, but it’s also perhaps a bit too understated to make any lasting impression.
The game presents its dialogue options in a variation of the dialogue wheel system. And as is usually the case with greatly abridged dialogue wheels, this means that at times you’ll pick a dialogue option thinking it means one thing and your character will say something completely different. And if you decide to go back and replay a section in order to actually pick the option you wanted, you’ll soon discover that you can’t skip dialogue or fast-forward cutscenes until you’ve completed the current episode.
The game’s controls were designed with a gamepad in mind, but it plays perfectly fine with a keyboard and mouse. At first, Louis feels too heavy and slow to turn, but I think it’s more of a design decision to make things seem more grounded and realistic as opposed to an actual issue.
The options menu and by extension the save system on the other hand are fairly lackluster. The available options are pretty limited and clunky to navigate, and the save system is limited to autosaves and a save and quit option.
A minor but fairly annoying issue is the fact that quite often the game's subtitles don’t match the actual spoken words, and feature quite a few typos on top of that. But at least the game was stable, ran well, and didn’t crash on me once.
In the end, I feel like The Council is a game you might want to play for its great first half and as a sample of what to expect from Big Bad Wolf in the future. If, however, you’re someone for whom a bad ending can retroactively ruin an otherwise enjoyable experience, you should stay as far away from The Council as you can.
Had this review been written closer to the game’s launch, it could serve as a cautionary tale against buying episodic games prior to them being finished. But at this point, it’s not quite as relevant since you know exactly what you’ll be getting yourself into.
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