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The Council Review

"Episode 5: Checkmate"

Campaign (Spoiler Free)

The fifth episode of The Council which is the finale was absolutely dreadful. It honestly makes the entire journey feel like a complete waste of time where things divert down into having a high enough skill level in random categories. If you don't, I can't say as that'll be spoilerish but it won't feel great. Your decisions have not mattered the entire time through as it folds into a small, short conclusion with a random change of pace. The narrative makes little to no sense and random bits of dialogue in wildly different tone levels is constantly thrown around. Some of the changes in the pace of what was happening honestly felt shocking, but not in an interesting way.

It felt random and just weird, it came across as though the story was going in the opposite of my decisions. I wanted to play it one way, but was forced to see things that were not with how I had sided. They also didn't make sense in a reveal sort of way and by the end it was confusing as to why I was taken on this journey. Afterwards it all makes sense and you can clearly see what they're trying to present as soon as the episode starts, but it did not feel like a natural shift. That aside, the episode was just a tread in familiar water as you perform the same political movements as last time, but in a smaller dose. From there you get to bizarre and terrible puzzles? I'm not sure you could call them that, one has you shifting stiff bodies around and the other is walking aimlessly along a crypt listening to the story you've witnessed. I couldn't get over how boring the latter one felt, I have no idea what they were thinking.

Gameplay

This isn't strictly cinematic as you do walk around and scavenge for supplies within the environment. You gather items to help in general conversation. Using your abilities creates a stress on the body and you need to balance how many points you use in each encounter. This is aided by the selection of a class and the abilities you get with it. The skill tree is open, but that initial start really can define your entire playthrough. The more you level these smaller points within the classes, the more dialogue you can get access to.

It also helps you to unlock further abilities to detect environmental aspects and even skip aspects of the game. The world is quite detailed being intimate as a setting, yet large in scale. It's all heavily detailed and it was nice to see the performance improved for this episode, it had been rough for the last few on Xbox One X. The loading screens were instant and the characters were smooth. The voice acting felt hit or miss here and at times the mouth wouldn't move while audio was being spit out.

The Council Episode 5: Checkmate Screenshot

The Conclusion

The Council Episode 5: Checkmate was a terrible way to end this series and it makes all your choices essentially useless. It whips through an on the fly narrative that doesn't make sense, with motives that are strange. The characters you've met and built relationships with along the way don't matter, neither do the various choices you've made. Hopefully you've worked on a couple skills, or chosen a weird diverting path. In comparison to what's happened in the past this is the same thing you did prior and it doesn't feel different.

The puzzle situations were terrible, can't even express how bad they were in this episode. It was also a short episode, if you speed up the puzzles there wouldn't be anything to this. It's like they didn't know how to conclude things and thought they'd present what we've seen and throw in some wild situations to delay the wrap-up. What started as a very fascinating and different type of episodic adventure went off the rails completely in the latter part of its season.

Read our Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 1 Review
View our Episodic Games Hub


The Council Review on Xbox One X
Review Code Provided by Evolve PR

Rating Overall: 3.5

Gamerheadquarters Reviewer Jason Stettner