The Council starts out as an adventure that turns into a murder mystery for a brief period and then becomes a game of world domination and the occult towards the end. It seamlessly blends history, art, culture, religion and the occult into an imaginative tapestry, that unlike something like Fahrenheit, doesn't get lost along the way.
In our review of the first episode, we wrote: "You can see The Council as one of two things. Either a narrative adventure with RPG elements that let you develop your character, using items to explore the narrative. Alternatively, you could see it as an RPG devoid of any combat with a complete focus on narrative. However you choose to see it, there's something very appealing about the premise and it comes across as both novel and innovative."
Having played through the game we'd lean more towards the former description, particularly with regards to how some of the story plays out, but needless to say The Council treads new ground in how it does away with tiresome mechanics like quick time events in favour of meaningful puzzles and how various character attributes allow for different paths forward.
The Council sees the player assume the role of Louis de Richet, who gets an invitation to join Lord Mortimer on his private island as Louis' mother, Sarah, has gone missing there. The search for Sarah may be your primary objective in coming to the island, but there are greater things at stake as you'll soon realise. Your mother is part of the puzzle, but so are the likes of George Washington and Napoleon Bonaparte, as well as the aforementioned host, Lord Mortimer and his co-host Sir Gregory Holm.
Unlike most recent Telltale titles, The Council doesn't rely solely on choices made in conversation and there is a system of attributes and effort points (similar to the one in Torment: Tides of Numenera) in play here that makes things much more interesting. Knowing when to spend points and when to save them is key as you never know when you might need them. Particularly towards the end, there are some expensive options that could potentially save your virtual backside if you don't happen to have the right attributes for certain options. In each episode, there's typically at least one point where you have to choose one path or the other and so you're going to gain some insight while you miss out on potential information elsewhere.
Most importantly The Council comes with some great puzzles, all logical and well designed, puzzles you have to think about, yet not the kind that will make you pull your hair out. And puzzles that you could both solve and fail at, taking the story in different directions. What we particularly enjoyed about them was how they were infused with lessons in history and religion, as well as the story of the game itself. It's not like we were just searching from random code words or numbers; everything was integrally tied to the story and the fiction immersing us further into the narrative. For instance, there's a puzzle that taught us more about the myth of the Minotaur and Theseus than Assassin's Creed Odyssey ever did, and that's just one example of the many ways in which the game offers insight and makes you want to pick up a book. There's plenty in here to do with Jesus Christ and Christianity, but with an occult angle that makes it a lot more interesting than you'd think.