It’s always hard when it comes to the middle chapter of an episodic game. The writer and game developers have a tricky job to do; keeping the story going, ensuring the audience is still interested, but at the same time making sure they don’t waste their best material and are able to save it for the big finale. There are times when this middle chapter comes across as the weakest entry, as the familiarity of the settings gets a bit tired and the characters don’t seem to surprise you anymore. But does The Council Episode 3: Ripples suffer from this problem? Or does it elevate matters and take the franchise to new highs? It’s a bit of both if I’m honest.
Episode 3 begins exactly where it left off after the second episode, and if you want to read my reviews for the other chapters please do so because this won’t make much sense otherwise. Set in the year 1793 you play the hero of the hour, Louis de Richet, a French occult expert who has come to Lord Mortimer’s private island in search of his mother, and colleague, who went missing two days earlier. The huge house on the island is holding a conference for some of the most famous and most important people of the time; including Napoleon Bonaparte and George Washington. In the first episode, we discovered secret rooms with unusual artifacts and it finished with a murder. In the second chapter, the mysterious host Lord Mortimer and his motives were met, allowing us to find a crypt in the garden, with things concluding with our mother holding a gun to your head. I have absolutely loved taking in the first two episodes and have really been looking forward to playing the third.
It is in the story department where Episode 3 clearly reveals the purpose and motivations of the characters. It does a great job mixing the historical truth and brilliantly composed fiction of the game world, with the conference scene and its political ramifications standing out. We are also given a massive story reveal – one that answers a lot of questions from the first two episodes – and that ensures that The Council becomes even more interesting. I am intrigued to see how the narrative will move onwards, and that is surely a sign of a good episodic drama.
Once again The Council mixes that delicate balance between exploration and dialogue choices well. Even though the searching in this episode doesn’t really feature anything new to discover, it is still a wonderful world to walk around. All the RPG elements that allow us to specialise in certain skill trees continue levelling up, allowing you to gain even more knowledge as you progress.
Your past consequences and decisions really do make a difference in Ripples, and this is even more apparent should you experiment with two different saves; finding out that it all really can take a different path depending on how you go about things. There are a couple of hours of gameplay included in this latest episode, and whilst it doesn’t feel as in-depth as those before it, it still has a great energy hidden within.
The design and visuals are still of a very high standard, with great characters and unique room designs. There are a few lip syncing problems with some of the characters this time around though, and I did notice a few little bugs here and there, but at no point were they major enough to stop my enjoyment of the gameplay.
Once again I have really loved taking in The Council and look forward to the next episodes. There may not be many new locations to discover, but the expansion of the story and the writing is, once again, top notch. It makes it all the better that the development team have managed to drop plenty of hints and huge expectations for what will occur as the episodes begin to conclude, and whilst there are some slightly buggy moments to be had in this episode – strange things that I had not noticed in the others – it has still been great to back in this strange world of truth, magic, and political intrigue.