The Council episode 4 review: Out of this world

Focus Home Interactve
Focus Home Interactve /

Doubling down on absurdities and moving away from geopolitical intrigue, The Council episode 4 essentially starts over instead of setting up a graceful end.

Title: The Council episode 4 – Burning Bridges
Developer: Big Bad Wolf
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Platforms: PC (version reviewed), PS4, Xbox One
Release Date: September 25, 2018

This review will make passing references to The Council‘s previous episodes while avoiding major story spoilers for episode 4, “Burning Bridges.”

When The Council was first released, I had no idea what the series was headed towards. Each episode has been a mini-adventure in its own right, unraveling just how surreal this graphic adventure game with skill-based confrontations can get. I usually like when a game subverts my expectations, but the sudden tonal and narrative shift jumps from the lovably absurd to explicit nonsense.

“Burning Bridges” is emblematic of Big Bad Wolf’s relationship with its audience. After solving (or brute-forcing) the episode-ending puzzle prior, Louis is left to uncover a hidden trinket aimed to take down Mortimer; a sudden threat of immense proportion. Until he’s not. But don’t dawdle, because you have to save someone you don’t know is in a time-sensitive area of safety or doom because you were learning the true nature of your purpose on the island.

Oh, and that trinket you were looking for? You know, the one that required you to double back immediately from the place you just entered to end the last episode? The one that has you scouring random books, artifacts, and rooms in a thoughtless, arbitrary search for something you don’t know will help you? That was a waste of time because everything you know is a lie.

The Council Episode 4 Louis
Focus Home Interactive /

The Council has become an exercise in pushing the envelope at any means necessary. Even if the means sacrificed are “good taste,” “proper pacing” or “narrative structure,” Big Bad Wolf has turned its established gameplay loop on its head and doubled down on its more nefarious, darker tones.

Even though the season has been slowly increasing its lean on the occult until this point, episode 4 jumps head-first without respect for what the narrative has been building to the entire time. Though confrontations with historical figures that require logical deduction and skilled nuanced reasoning remain, what remains of the narrative has been thrown into the trash.

With one more episode to go, Louis is no longer a houseguest working over a group of the brightest minds in the world but has suddenly transcended the limits of the established reasoning the game has put forth. Interactions with George Washington, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Manuel Godoy are now afterthoughts, reduced to table setting and spice for a meal you had no idea you were biting into.

Focus Home Interactive
Focus Home Interactive /

There’s nothing I would like more to explain in clear detail than the twist this episode reveals, but in the interest of spoilers, I can only remark that it has completely killed my interest in continuing the franchise. Its timing comes at the detriment of the entire story to this point, effectively dropping everything you were doing to take on a completely different narrative altogether.

…the game treats your multi-episode investment with the utmost disrespect…

The conference of world leaders on the precipice of a geopolitical shift? It doesn’t matter. Stopping Mortimer through discovery and a battle of wits? Unnecessary. Navigating through the minefield of etiquette and intentions of a dynamic cast? You’re barely in the same room with more than two characters at once.

In doing this, the game treats your multi-episode investment with the utmost disrespect, pulling a switcheroo based on nothing. There’s no good explanation. Everything you know is wrong, and it’s that way because we say so. Oh, and there’s one more episode of this, so you better take some quick notes in the last hour because you have to rush through your standing in this new world you’ve entered and pick a side in a debate you can’t begin to comprehend.

The Council Episode 4 tombs
Focus Home Interactive /

There’s no rhyme or reason to anything that happens in this video game. It has no verifiable identity. It wants to do all the cool things the cool developers are doing without wrapping it together with any coherence. It has an uninteresting visual design, terrible technical performance, horrendous voice acting, lacking audio design, repetitive, uncreative world design and a story that cares not for what you try to build characterization upon.

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“Burning Bridges,” quite simply, is apt in its summation.

Big Bad Wolf. . The Council Episode 4 - Burning Bridges. 3.5. <em>The Council </em>episode 4, “Burning Bridges,” took a big risk by becoming a different video game with different ideals. Deduction and dialogue were given less care than the need to double down on its more grandiose suggestions. As a result, my efforts to build a Louis de Richet worth a damn has eroded after a dozen hours in a matter of seconds. Burn it all down. I don’t care what happens anymore.

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.