Here we are once again, ready to continue our interesting adventure with Louis de Richet, stranded on Lord Mortimer’s island on the lookout for our mother. So far we’ve experienced fatalities, mysteries, visions, uncovered secrets, and found out things we would rather have not known! Just what could possibly lie in store for us in The Council: Episode 3:- Ripples, the third instalment of this five-part adventure game from Big Bad Wolf and Focus Home Interactive?
I’ll tell you one thing you’re sure to get this time around (on release), plenty of bugs and issues, unfortunately.
If you’ve not played the first two games yet, be sure to check out my reviews for part one HERE and part two HERE – both are spoiler-free and give you an in-depth look at each episode. As usual, I’ve played through each chapter three times, on all three save files, so I’ve seen a lot of the variations throughout the game, but I’ve still not seen everything.
Louis de Richet, our protagonist, has been summoned to Lord Mortimer’s home as a desperate plea to find his mother, who had attended the calling but proceeded to vanish a few days later. The mansion is also currently occupied by great leaders and intellects such as President Washington, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Duchess Emily Hillsborrow – a strange mix up of prestige persons. During your ‘stay’ at the mansion, you begin to uncover clues as to where your mother could be, as well as begin to have visions of things that have happened, are happening, or will happen. There is never a dull moment as you try and continue your search with strange people turning up dead/missing (depending on your choices), uncovering secret clues left by your mother, finding hidden rooms, and digging through other peoples things in order to use the evidence you find against them in future conversations.
The second episode left us in the Crypt – all endings lead to this point; however, who you meet in there as your first encounter depends on choices you made and the accuracy of completing certain puzzles in chapter 2. From here, you’re called to the consultation room – the sole reason all of these influencers are actually gathered in the mansion – and you’re asked to take your missing mothers place aboard the council. As you would expect, nothing is going to be as it seems in this episode. You’ll be tasked with choosing who to speak too, picking sides, uncovering information to persuade someone to change their mind, possibly stopping another ‘accident’, and you’ll get to do a puzzle – only one this time though. So, let’s take a look at what I thought of The Council: Episode 3:- Ripples.
I’m going to presume you know what the game is and how it plays; if you don’t, please take a look at my Episode 1 review HERE. However, just like I stated in my Episode 2 review, the skill trees and inventory management are utilised perfectly within this game – they are still giving every single choice-based adventure game out there a run for their money. I know a lot of people complained about the RPG skill tree elements when the first episode came out, as they couldn’t do and see everything in one playthrough – that’s the point…
By utilising all three of the save slots, I’ve played each chapter differently each time a new episode has come out. As such, I have a ‘Good guy’ save, a ‘Bad guy’ save, and a ‘YOLO’ save! Because you can pick which skills you want to invest in, each of the playthroughs feel fresh and new, even though 80-90% of the game follows the same path. It’s the small things you only get if you do certain things which excite me! For example, at one point in Ripples, you can choose an answer for the Council. This choice can possibly be swayed later on and you can sway others to your cause if you wish. Each of those outcomes has a knock-on effect on how people see you, how they react, and how the story progresses outside of key scenes. It’s really fun and super immersive.
Up until now, I’ve not used the items apart from the Royal Jelly to replenish my action points for performing specialist actions. However, in Ripples, I found I was using the Carmelite water more (lets you use your next ‘action’ for free) as well as burning through the Jelly like mad! Again, if you don’t know what the actions are, please check out my previous reviews, TL;DR – you can choose abilities in your skill tree at the end of each chapter. This lets you interact with people if given the chance and you have the right skill. For example, you can bring up politics in a conversation if you have the political skill, or you can pick the lock to an item if you don’t own the key – if you have a decent level of skill. It’s rather cool and works really well.
One thing that has stuck with The Council: Episode 3:- Ripples, just like it was in Episode 2, is the terrible implementation of trophies. The developers have simply got a ‘completed chapter 9’, ‘Completed Chapter 10’, and ‘ Completed Chapter 11’. Seriously – I wish they would add some more trophies that push people to explore and work out alternative routes. Just add them as DLC trophies! Having over 60% of your trophies for episode 1 alone, and then the generic ones for episodes 2-5 are pretty poor. I know I brought this up in my Episode 2 review, but it’s still something that should have been looked at in my opinion.
As a whole, Ripples doesn’t really add anything new to the game mechanics-wise, so we’re still getting the very pretty looking 3rd person Adventure-RPG game with highly detailed models. The single puzzle which is within the game does have a rather neat twist to it over the other puzzles we’ve had previously though – which was very welcomed and I hope we get more puzzles like this. The only thing that let the puzzle down, other than the bug I’ll get to in a minute, is the fact you can just pick an option and get told what the answer is. Okay, so you have to use a stupid amount of ability points, but still – use one Carmelite Water and it’s free to obtain the exact answer!
We also don’t really get to explore any new rooms, other than the ones we have ventured into in the previous two episodes. I would have loved to explore the grounds a bit more outside or maybe find some more secret rooms – maybe in another episode?
I’m still really impressed with the amount of choice and consequence within Ripples as well. One wrong move or if you rub someone the wrong way and you could push someone to suicide or worst still, they could attack you! Also, if you’ve not played the game, at the end of each chapter, you get a breakdown showing you all the things you did, all the things you could have done and the things you failed at. This is great if you’re wanting to know what to aim to discover in your next playthrough.
From here on out, I’m going to get a bit negative so please forgive me. There was a lot of things I didn’t like about this episode, most of which are technical issues and not content-wise. It’s a shame because I love the game and I’m having so much fun with it, but the following issues really annoyed and upset me as The Council started off strong.
I stated in my Episode 2 review that I thought the lip-syncing had improved. If that’s the case, then it’s reverted back to what it once was with Ripples. Not only that – the speaking itself is broken. I would occasionally be in situations where the characters are on screen talking, yet their mouth isn’t moving at all. Other aspects of the acting, like when Emily is shouting at one point, are completely unrealistic. Her mouth moves as if she is whispering sweet nothings into my ear, not shouting at me. So for me, the lip-syncing has taken a hit for some reason – although half the time it works fine.
2. Conflicting information
Similar to the first point, something has gone wrong here. Later on, you’ll encounter someone who asks you to find some items – yup, a fetch quest. They give you a code to a door, but the voice actor says one thing and the subtitles say another. The subtitles were right and the character was wrong. The same character also declares out loud that you have six items to find, whereas the subtitles say five. You have five items to find. Louis will also think out loud the combination to one of the secret rooms, but he also thinks it out loud as the wrong combination! So I don’t know what’s going on, but the speech doesn’t match up with the subtitles, and it isn’t right.
3. I have eyes for you!
As you can see above, one of the conversations on a certain pathway as you talk to a certain person actually causes Louis to go cross-eyed. This one baffles me as I didn’t see it happen anywhere else an I was in hysterics when it happened. His eyes both started moving independently and I simply became fixated on what he’s possibly looking at!
4. Look to the skies
Whenever you enter a new area that’s had to load, the camera will reset and look up at the sky. Again, just like the eyes, I have no idea why this is but it was really annoying and I’m hoping it’s fixed asap.
5. Not always the easiest answer.
The final bug I spotted is a biggie. In the one puzzle which you have within Ripples, the solution isn’t correct. I don’t want to ruin anything so I can’t really say much. However, if the game hasn’t been updated – back up your save before the last part of the puzzle and if it doesn’t work, reload and try the opposite. It’s another case of one thing saying something but the solution is the other. As such, I did manage to get both endings in my playthroughs – so there are at least two solutions to it.
All of the issues above, plus some minor ones, have already been reported to my contact who has passed them to the publisher to give to the developers. So hopefully they won’t be around long and I will update this review and post on Twitter (@GamePittReviews) once they have been ironed out and fixed.
Overall then, The Council: Episode 3:- Ripples is a bit tricky to summerise. I enjoyed the episode as I’m fully committed and invested in the story with three savegames to back that up. I’ve spent around about 20+ hours so far just playing these three episodes, with each playthrough offering me different conversation options, places to go, things to find out, and people to meet. However, since episode one, the quality of the game has been on a steady decline. Episode two had a lot fewer puzzles and interactions with episode three taking it down even further to only one puzzle. But, episode three does have a lot more exposition and setup included, along with some critically timed moments where your choice is literally life or death.
If you’re interested in the game, then I would recommend you pick up the Season Pass or Complete Edition as you’ll get two days early access to each episode (out today for these two customers and on Thursday for everyone else), as well as access to every single episode every two months. Just be aware that episode 1 is by far the best episode so far with the longer playing time, more character bonding, more puzzles and branching storylines, as well as the first time you build up your skills – so a lot fewer options are available for you, which forces you to play around and use your skill allocations wisely.
Official Accolade Trailer (no Ep 3 trailer out yet):
The Council: Episode 3:- Ripples is another great episode in the thrilling narrative adventure game from Big Bad Wolf. Unlike episodes 1 and 2, episode 3 focuses more on your purpose on the island and it begins to show you the various characters true intentions and motives. Ripples may not be a deep as the previous two episodes, but don’t let that put you off if you’ve liked the game so far. What it lacks in puzzles, it makes up in branching dialogues and interactions. One thing to take note of is the fact that this episode has a number of bugs and issues, as of writing this review. Either way, I’d still recommend The Council as a game all adventure fans should own and play through as the narrative is incredibly interesting and nothing comes close within this genre at the moment.
The Council - Episode 3: Ripples£5.79
- - Still using choices and skills I set in episode one!
- - The narrative and plot points are really interesting and I'm always surprised with what happens next
- - Even at episode three, we are meeting new people and building bonds
- - The story only gets better the deeper we get
- - Each of my three playthroughs felt new and varied
- - Lip syncing has got worse and more characters don't move their mouth when talking
- - There are a few instances where the recorded voice is different to the subtitles, and is wrong information
- - The only puzzle has a flaw which makes it too easy to mess up
- - This episode is more of a 'filler' one with exposition, the reunion, and general finding things out
- - No extra trophies to work towards or look out for - just generic 'You completed the chapter' ones