Editor’s Note: There are potential spoilers for The Council - Episode 2: Hide and Seek below.
The previous episode in the episodic adventure mystery title The Council ended with a cliffhanger, leaving us gasping at the possibilities of what we discovered deep within the crypts underneath the island. Episode 3: Ripples lives up to its name, shedding light on the primary purpose for gathering the most influential people around the globe. If you have been thorough in your exploration, reading the dozens of notes, and letters left around the mansion, the climax for this episode answers critical questions, taking a turn in the narrative that I was not expecting.
Much like Hide and Seek, Ripples lasts only a couple hours, but that doesn’t mean the episode is short on content. Whereas you spent the majority of your time solving environmental puzzles and being introduced to the guest, this time your time is better spent exploring, piecing together the mystery and gathering necessary items for the final test. Answers are finally given on why Mortimer has brought you to the island, focusing on the conversations during the conference and how it will affect the known world. I don’t want to spoil the exact details, but it does involve real-life historical political events, involving three major counties, one of which will change the future of the United States.
Of course, those aren’t the only events that transpire, as stances are made, dividing the guests, which in turn, makes things very emotional, as Louis must choose a side to take on a multitude of issues. Family plays a significant role, with new information regarding your mother, Sarah de Richet comes to fruition, as well as a stressful standoff during the conference involving one of the guests and a life or death situation where one false step could shift the way the timeline is constructed. Besides the scavenger hunt near the tail of the episode, which slows the pacing, the rest of the episode feels action-packed, never releasing you from its grasp.
Although not entirely removed from this episode, the puzzles once again focus heavily on religious beliefs. While you can piece together the necessary pieces by reading everything you come across in the game, but if you don't have a greater understanding of Christianity, you may feel slightly lost or overwhelmed. Thankfully, my wife was able to put things together much faster than I could, and I didn't need to exit the game if I chose the wrong answer. As always, I did play through a second time to see the alternate choices and how they affected the overall narrative.
As the third episode, I was hoping that many of the technical issues from the first two episodes would have been resolved, but it seems, at least when playing on Xbox, things have gotten worse. In fact, half of the opening sequence takes place with characters not opening their mouths when speaking, or their expressions look off due to eyes that seem to wander around on their own. Not only that, but even running on an Xbox One X, the engine still chugs along when running through the expansive mansion. Conversing with one of the characters at the end of the episode results in the game freezing for only 30 seconds, before relinquishing control over to the player. And you are still unable to skip or exit a conversation once someone begins to speak. So many times, I have clicked the wrong option and had to sit through an elaborate monologue over and over.
The Council - Episode 3: Ripples finally provides players with the answers they desire, but at the same time, proposes all new questions. Things are not as simple as I thought they would be, and an unseen power comes to light that genuinely has me excited for the remaining two episodes. The technical issues are such a drag, and by this point, I was hoping at least some of them would be resolved, but it appears like things are getting worse.
Note: The Council - Episode 3: Ripples was reviewed based on a digital Xbox One copy of the game, provided by the publisher.