This review contains open spoilers for The Council: Episode 1 - The Mad Ones
We've already been running around his grandiose manor, but in The Council: Episode 2 - Hide and Seek, we finally get the chance to meet the elusive Lord Mortimer. However, the circumstances that surround your first conversation are troubling, to say the least.
As the events in Episode 1 - The Mad Ones came to a close, your final decision came down to comforting the visibly frightened Elizabeth Adams or returning to your room to become romantically involved with Emily Hillsborrow. Whatever choice you chose to make, the resulting, dramatic outcome that opens Episode 2 is the same. A murder has taken place
In light of this new mystery, Louis de Richet's investigation into the disappearance of his mother takes a momentary backseat. With the victim's body discovered in their room, Lord Mortimer, concerned that the tragedy has put him in a delicate situation, asks that you work out who was responsible for the murder - refusing to believe that it could have been one of his guests.
Your sleuthing starts at the scene of the crime, although you are free to interrogate the guests straight away if you prefer. It's horrid to look at. The lifeless body left lying in a pool of their own blood, surrounded by the several consumed bottles of wine glugged moments ago. There's a broken clock that points to when the murder took place, vials of Laudanum that have been imported from America, bloody footprints that have been left behind, and the short blade that was used in the act.
It's hard not to have some morbid fascination in deciphering what happened and who the culprit could be, but, as with the first episode, it isn't long before Episode 2 - Hide and Seek starts to falter. Even more so, in fact. That the guests staying at Lord Mortimer's manor don't seem particularly alarmed that a murder has happened in a nearby room is but a minor thing to berate in comparison to how restrictive an experience I somehow managed to endure.
In my Episode 1 - The Mad Ones review, I had talked about the light RPG mechanics that developer Big Bad Wolf Studio has hoped will lend The Council its own identity. Not wanting to retread old ground, you can read more about them there. But, when I had complained that every corner in Lord Mortimer's manor was crammed with the consumable Royal Jelly item, there wasn't enough this time around.
Given that it is used to restore Effort Points, which, to briefly recap, allow you to use your unlocked skills to, say, study the murder weapon in more detail or to probe a suspect more deeply, it came as a bitter disappointment. No longer could I be as inquisitive about my surroundings as I wanted to be or talk at greater length in the game's many conversations. It's a problem that can be fixed, and something that will certainly need to be addressed for the next episode.
The murder mystery only lasts for the first chapter, after which the whole matter is forgotten about. You will then have the chance to meet Duke Manuel Godoy, a new character that knocks heads with Jacques Peru over the news that King Louis was put to the guillotine in Place de Revolution yesterday morning. Other than that you learn more about why Lord Mortimer brings together such influential people, and have more puzzles to solve that your mother has left behind to help you in your search for her.
Sadly, these fall flat too. When you're not referencing biblical text with paintings of the apostles, you're searching for a passcode or running around a hedge maze examining stone statues of Greek mythological figures. None entertain as much as they should, and, unlike the first episode, I lost interest in this two-hour jaunt quicker than I had expected.
With three more episodes to come, it wasn't a surprise to discover that The Council: Episode 2 - Hide and Seek was more transitionary by design. It has its fair share of minor revelations to make, but, continuing to be hampered by the same technical issues, it's important the next episode needs to up the ante and correct some missteps before my interest in the whole spectacle falls apart.
Versions tested: Xbox One
Disclaimer: A copy of this game was provided to RPG Site by the publisher.