The Council – Episode 4: Burning Bridges Review
Episode Four of The Council, Burning Bridges, is the best chapter of this crazy tale yet. The story twists and multiple outcomes give it lasting appeal, while the main reveal in the middle of the episode changes the course of the entire game in ways I did not expect. Burning Bridges is a perfect penultimate episode, making me need the final chapter as soon as humanly possible.
Forget everything you thought you knew about The Council after the first three episodes because Burning Bridges turns the entire game right on its head. It’s obvious that the first three chapters have been building to a singular moment, one I expected to be the “Conference” between the host Lord Mortimer and his guests. After that came and went I wondered how long I’d drift along in the story before getting to the crucial moment. Episode 4 provides that moment, a certified mind**** that hasn’t left my mind since I first played it.
Bridges… Ya Burnt!
The core mechanics of the game haven’t changed in Burning Bridges, we still have the conversation-based discovery system that The Council has perfected. The perks I’ve selected for Louis de Richet still play a factor in how well he can navigate these discussions, and the boss fight-like Confrontations still create effective tension. The first episode introduces the new elements, the next two fine-tune them, and Episode Four here raises them to perfection.
Along with the bombshell reveal comes a new mechanic, essentially a new wrinkle in the conversation system that gives Louis more, uh, “analytical powers.” I don’t want to get into too much detail, as it ties into the big reveal, but it’s an interesting extra mechanic with its own merits and faults.
The main objectives of the chapter essentially cut it into two parts, one where I must gather clues in order to find a rare artifact and another that I don’t want to get too deep into for spoiler reasons. Suffice it to say that it’s a real out-of-body experience, something that anyone who’s played this game so far needs to play immediately. Essentially the chapter flows like this: artifact quest, atomic bomb reveal drop, direct effects of that atomic bomb, crazy spoiler-free quest, important choice. It’s a fantastic structure that flows beautifully, keeping me engaged throughout my playthrough.
Solid Structured, Sneaky Story
I will admit that the artifact quest can be tedious, as it requires once again backtracking throughout the mansion trying to find certain people. Of course, those people aren’t in their assigned bedrooms, so that means more aimless running around until I bump into them. The game does give me a few hints, but I’d much rather a more direct line.
This lack of direction hurts even more when “Burning Bridges” throws a time-based objective at me without telling me, only letting me know about it when I see the results of my failure. Had I known I was on a time limit I might have put more pep in my step. I suppose that just means I have to play the episode again, which I’m willing to do to get the full story.
What’s not a good reason for making me start again, however, is a game-breaking glitch I found during the artifact quest. Any attempt to go out to the balcony from a specific bedroom results in my getting stuck between objects in the bedroom upon my return. I can’t go around them, I can’t go over them, all I can do is sit there stuck for eternity. The doors to the other rooms on the balcony are inaccessible too, so my only option is to restart the entire chapter.
Stay the Course
This is obviously bogus, but I’m not docking too many points off because the room where it’s found serves no purpose in the main story. This is an optional place that has zero extra information to add to the main arc, so finding the glitch is sort of a “why were you in here anyway?” moment. I’d be much angrier if it appeared somewhere more important, and if that room becomes important in Episode Five I pray that glitch is fixed.
The Council Episode Four Burning Bridges is the best episode of the game so far. The key mechanics are sound, the story is downright baffling (in a good way), and the setup for the finale is spot on. Without that glitch off the beaten path and the sneaky timed objective, I’d be tempted to call this episode a perfect ten, as it’s super engaging from the start. In this post-Telltale Games world, there’s a void to be filled in narrative-based gaming, and The Council emphatically makes its bid for the throne known with Burning Bridges.
*** PS4 code provided by the publisher ***
- Core mechanics shine
- Story is incredible
- Magnificent megaton twist
- Timed objective out of nowhere
- Game breaking glitch lurking off the beaten path