Things get weird and supernatural in Burning Bridges.
Please note that since each episode of The Council features the same graphics engine and control setup, those elements will not be repeated in our reviews for the final four episodes. To read our complete thoughts on that, refer to our review of The Mad Ones.
Since its launch, The Council has squandered some of the initial goodwill gathered from its innovative “RPG meets interactive fiction” due to its technical glitches, recycled layouts and obtuse puzzles. Episode 4, entitled Burning Bridges, pulls along all of the good and bad of the series.
You’re still stuck in the mansion for long stretches, looking for clues or items or conversations for a large chunk of the episode. There are still puzzles that are both too simple and too obtuse at the same time. There are still technical problems — in fact, these feel worse as the game continues, as character lip sync is completely off in the episode’s most pivotal conversation. In fact, there are moments in the conversation where mouths don’t even move.
That’s the bad. The good? The story itself is unfolding at an intriguing rate, and the big twist/reveal answers a lot of world questions and unveils the truth behind Lord Mortimer. The writing is overly expository and clunky at times, but it is clever and raises the stakes of the series as it approaches the finale.
In addition, by now the leveling system has taken a firm hold, and your chosen path has become distinct. Abilities are used quite a bit and give you many paths to completion. It is still a little uncertain just how much actual branching is happening — it doesn’t feel like things are truly veering off course, though the way you get there is unique. And after the big reveal moment, a new mechanic is introduced, one that can help give you a leg up in conversation battles.
So the good news is that the guts under the hood of the game are evolving in a smart direction, and the story itself is unfolding in an intriguing way. It’s the execution that remains problematic at times, and with only one episode left to go, it feels like that will be the legacy of the title.
Burning Bridges brings both the good and bad of The Council as its penultimate episode. Problems are exaggerated, but the story takes interesting turns and the core mechanic is still fun. If you’ve played it this far, you’ll get exactly what you expect.