The Council: Episode 2 – Hide and Seek (Xbox One Review)
The Mad Ones proved that Big Bad Wolf weren’t just mad enough to take on the likes of Telltale and Dontnod in the narrative adventure genre, but they were smart enough to pull it off. I instantly fell in love with the mystery at the core of The Council and when The Mad Ones came to a close, I was at loss as how to pass the time between episodes. But can Hide and Seek live up to the expectations of its predecessor?
Within minutes we are introduced to Mortimer, the enigmatic owner of the manner in which we currently reside, while he tries to get to the bottom of the nail biting cliffhanger of The Mad Ones as he interrogates Louis De Richet. At first it almost feels like the build up to Mortimer goes out with a whimper, but as you get to know Mortimer and his motives more questions start to bubble to the surface. It almost seems like everyone has something to hide, but nobody quite knows their place in their own story.
While you’re trying to navigate the complexities of the story, you’ll all spend time tiptoeing around the intricacies of the characters therein. While the iconic figures from the previous episode are still at the forefront, your interaction feels a little more restrained with a bit more focus on exploring the dialogue options available. Conversations can flourish as you expose a character’s weaknesses, extracting key information, whiles others can come to an abrupt halt as you push the boundaries a little too far.
Building on top of the RPG core to the interaction is key to understanding everyone around you and really finds its footing in Hide and Seek with some tasks benefitting greatly from increased abilities, like lock picking and a strong knowledge of the occult. Previously it had felt like a jack of all trades route might fair you well, but as I continued with that approach I often found myself juggling multiple items and just scraping enough points together to escape the increasingly more complex puzzles – all of which push your understanding just enough to remain interesting without ever being too complex.
As I slowly scoured the surroundings of the Mansion, I stumbled across new areas that felt natural and perfectly slipped in to the locked off areas of the map. Even with a slight judder here or there, I was totally engrossed, but there were a few times in which I found myself a little tired of retreading old ground – especially so thanks to the large amount of time I spent playing The Mad Ones. Even with the slight dip in punctuality, it was all over before I knew it and all I had to show was a few traits that bear shame of my hamfisted attempts at one of the puzzles and a nice collection of flies gathering in my mouth.
Big Bad Wolf have created another short and sharp experience with Hide and Seek that almost lives up to the promise of The Mad Ones. Its small blemishes are easily overlooked, but if the manor doesn’t expand dramatically in the upcoming episodes I feel like it might lose its charm. It’s an experience that I am so invested in that I have simultaneously decided to do a second playthrough while abstaining from actually playing the episode straight after it ends to preserve the experience.