Editor’s Note: There are potential spoilers for The Council - Episode 1: The Mad Ones below.
The Council - Episode 2: Hide and Seek continues the tale of Louis de Richet, son of the leading member of a highly respectable secret society. After meeting most of the esteemed guests at Lord Mortimer’s mansion, the first episode took an unexpected turn. Instead of focusing on locating your missing mother, Sarah de Richet, you find yourself neck deep in murder accusations.
It has been a couple of months since the release of Episode 1: The Mad Ones, and I was surprised to see that there wasn’t any recap. I don’t enjoy making comparisons to other franchises, but Telltale certainly knew how to present newly released episodes with a quick retelling of the significant events that transpired and a sneak peek afterward. Without it, the start of Hide and Seek feels sharp, as we find Louis being interrogated by Lord Mortimer, who up until that point was only seen in visions (depending upon the ending you received in The Mad Ones) and wasn’t formally introduced.
It doesn’t take long before he realizes you're not the murderer and enlists your expertise and detective skills. While the first episode did an excellent job at setting the scene and upcoming narrative, The Mad Ones seems more intimate in scale, focusing on the investigation before coming to an abrupt ending. While one of the guest rooms is the sight of the gruesome murder, Louis must interrogate the other guests scattered about the mansion. More importantly, we are finally able to explore the previously locked guest accommodations. It was a delight to see the stark contrast in design and personality between all of the guest rooms. George Washington’s room could be confused with a wing in the White House, while Napoleon's is designed after something from the fabled Palace of Versailles. There were a couple of rooms that I still have not seen, but that may be due to the choices I made while playing.
Instead of focusing on the same set of characters that took center stage in The Mad Ones, Hide and Seek pushes guests that were absent or were mostly hidden in the background. The intimidating Jacques Peru, in particular, plays a pivotal role in the narrative. This helped to develop the remaining cast of characters, letting newcomers set the mood for the next chapter and providing additional small details for the rest. After the initial set of interrogations, you won’t be spending too much time interacting and conversing with characters. In fact, there is only a single confrontation moment this time around from one of the new characters. Instead, exploration and interactive puzzle solving is the focus. Thankfully, my choice in skills helped me search every possible location inside and outside the mansion, however, if I had known I would need to interpret books and study history, I would have chosen differently. At times, it felt like I was at a disadvantage, but luckily I saved all my items. With my keen sense of finding amber (which Louis is obsessed with finding), I had plenty of effort points to spend.
The Council - Episode 2: Hide and Seek pushes the narrative forward but focuses on Louis exploring the island and solving large-scale environmental puzzles. With that said, the same performance issues and slowdown that plagued the first episode returns. The voice acting tends to be all over the place, even shifting quality during a single conversation. The branching paths provide a different experience, but overall the episode is quite short and once again ends on a cliffhanger.Note: The Council - Episode 2: Hide and Seek was reviewed based on a digital Xbox One copy of the game, provided by the publisher.