Episode One of The Council was a surprise hit earlier this year, putting unexpected pressure on the second to follow suit.
Hide and Seek delves much deeper into the characters you met during The Mad Ones and gives the player real perspective into who you’re sharing an island with. It’s time to start choosing your allies and your enemies, figuring out who to trust and who you shouldn’t.
And while the story finally starts to find its stride, there are some complications which, unfortunately, can’t be skirted over.
Please note, this review will contain some spoilers for Episode One from this point forward.
All up to speed? Good, we’ll continue.
At the beginning of this episode, you finally get to meet the elusive and enigmatic Lord Mortimer but it may not be under pleasant circumstances. See, depending on the choice you made at the end of ‘The Mad Ones‘, the opening of Hide and Seek plays out completely differently.
One option – the route I took – is that Elizabeth Adams has been brutally murdered in her room and Louis was the last person to speak to her. However, there’s an option where Louis becomes the chief suspect in the murder and a third where he is asked about a guest that has gone missing. That’s exactly how the element of choice should play into episodic, branching narrative games and means there’s plenty of room for replaying the episode at a later date.
My playthrough led me to investigating Elizabeth’s murder as Mortimer’s personal assistant. That led me to the crime scene, examining the body and the chaotic room, while also questioning all the other members of The Council while searching their rooms.
This is where the second episode shines brightest because you learn more about the weaknesses and strengths of your counterparts, the line of questioning you should attempt with them, but also getting to see how they react under pressure. There are no facades now, this is serious and everyone is a suspect.
The first part of Hide and Seek had me gather as much evidence as possible, then report my findings to Mortimer once I was done. Whether the findings will be to your liking, however, is another matter entirely.
I don’t want to venture too deeply into spoiler territory as the results of the investigation, unsurprisingly, play a massive part in how the story progresses, but it also sees ‘Hide and Seek’ go off on a bit of a confusing tangent.
To be honest, beyond the opening portion of the episode, the story became less about Elizabeth’s murder and more about uncovering the secrets of the mansion and the island. There’s no question that Lord Mortimer is a fascinating addition to the game and you’ll want to learn as much about him as possible. It’s just a bit sad that Elizabeth soon becomes an afterthought.
And I think this is going to be a part of The Council’s problem going forward. It’s attempting to be too ambitious and in doing so, glossing over your narrative choices just a little bit so it can feed back into its over-arching narrative, no matter how tenuous the links become.
True, the events of her murder do lead you onto the case to begin with and serve as a motivation for Louis as he goes, but those links sort of dissipate the deeper into the episode you go.
Eventually, the episode plays out the same way for everyone and in that, it’s fair to say that the final chapter goes on a bit too long. The premise starts out interestingly, but it quickly becomes frustrating and even a little bit dull. To be honest, it feels as if all of the ambition for the episode was invested in the first third, then loses the thread by the conclusion.
There’s a nice cliffhanger, though, and it definitely gives the game the injection it needs to take things forward, especially when you consider there’s still another 3 episodes to go.
Overall, I did enjoy Hide and Seek and I can’t wait to see how Episode 3 plays out, but it needs to keep its foot on the gas now. The stabilisers have to come off and the story really needs to open up. Because while Hide and Seek does some interesting and exciting new things for the genre, some of that initial momentum has definitely been lost.
+ Opening third of the episode has multiple exciting possibilities
+ More character interactions so we can learn about them
+ Still looks and plays great
– Minor frame and skipping issues
– Narrative choices link tenuously into main plot with major plot points becoming an afterthought
– Story yet to properly get off the ground
– Final chapter quite dull
The Council Episode Two – Hide and Seek
7.5 out of 10
Tested on PC