The Council begins in 1793, with you taking the role of secret society member Louis de Richet after his invitation to a private island off the shores of England by the enigmatic Lord Mortimer.
Joining you are a number of high profile guests, including Napoleon Bonaparte and President of the newly-formed United States of America, George Washington.
The strange nature of this private reception goes beyond just the prestigious guests –Richet’s own mother has recently gone missing on the island, while each and every one of the colorful cast seems to have their own hidden agendas
In a new twist for the genre, the core of The Council’s gameplay comes from manipulating and maneuvering through character encounters using the unique Social Influence system.
During confrontations, skills and limited resources can be used to gain the upper hand and achieve the desired outcome. You will be rewarded for your knowledge of each character’s psychological vulnerabilities and immunities, as well as their preparations made during prior exploration and investigation.
Failing an encounter does not mean ‘game over’, and no action can be taken back. The consequences are permanent, and may result in persistent physical disfigurements or mental traits that help or hinder the rest of your adventure
Richet’s numerous skills can be developed to align with your chosen approach to the adventure. Solve issues with diplomacy, delve into occultism to expand your historical and scientific knowledge, or play detective and see what others do not perceive.
Your skills will have uses that extend far beyond your conversations with fellow guests. With 15 diverse skills to use and invest in, you are free to uncover The Council’s mysteries how you see fit, with wildly varying consequences depending on your methods.
The results will forever alter the life of Louis de Richet, of those around him, and shape history as we know it.
At the start, there are three classes to choose from, each containing a set of different skills. The Diplomat uses etiquette and diplomacy just as you would expect together with Linguistics skill that lets you translate messages in other languages, what a clever chap!
PRO TIP- The Occultist is the one to go for if you fancy skimming through the game at speed.
The Detective class helps you see through other people’s deceptions along with making it easier to spot hidden points of interest in the environment.
On the whole, it’s a brilliant concept that’s solidly executed. Each conversation feels like a battle of wits as you try to gleam vital insight and manipulate people for your own ends while figuring out who to trust. At certain points you’ll enter into The Council’s version of a boss battle, called a Confrontation – with multiple stages of conversation that can be passed or failed.
From the opulent mansion setting staffed by creepy masked servants to the calculating and enigmatic guests, The Council is packed full of atmosphere and its overarching mystery is certainly compelling.
The game is let down by occasionally stilted voice acting, coupled with some rough lip-synching in spots.
The Mad Ones is a decent introduction into the world of The Council. The novel mechanics and engaging plot are ripe for further exploration over the other upcoming four episodes.