Now it'd be wrong to say the whole journey of The Council is well rounded and complete, without any confusion or sidesplitting headaches. The episodic point and click game toys with evolving the genre and ultimately, that's its main downfall.
First of all, you're on a journey to find your mother, which isn't exactly groundbreaking (afterall four of the Fallout games are along similar lines), to an outright festival of strangeness, which sees you transcend in to the paranormal realms of Angels and Daemons. Strangeness of the story aside, the mechanics leave a lot to be desired, but also give you alot of admiration for Bad Wolf Studios to attempt to include them.
First off, there's a leveling up system you'd really only expect to find in RPG titles, but it's done very clumsily. You have a choice of three classes, Detective, Occultist and Diplomat, each gives a starting boost to skills you can earn. Although, in truth, it doesn't matter what you choose (aside from the trophies for the platinum) because all skill trees are available anyway. Also, in their clumsiness with it. You need to balance out the skills of all trees as best as you can anyway and become a "jack of all trades" early in episode three. This means you'll miss confrontations, opportunities and also the most effective dialogue options in every playthroigh, no matter what class you choose. It's very hard to get anywhere without Linguistics, Manipulation and Questioning at at least level 2 a piece. This is where another problem comes in. You get four Skillpoints per completed quest. Quests act as chapters for this game. You need 3points for a skill to be unlocked and usavle at level 1. Five more skill points for level 2 and then ten more for level 3. You donXt exactly get the level of feeling like you're progressing as much a Bad Wolf Studios thought you'd get.
For this reason, it feels like a very awkward attempt at bringing in an RPG elemnet to the game, in RPGs (at least the good ones) it feels like you're progressing with almost every level.
Putting the problems of the leveling system to one side. There comes another problem. The dialogue in episode one is fresh, engaging and the characters are all brought to life with their own personalities and each have their own strengths and weaknesses. The skilltrees play in to this and give an element of knowing, for example, that you can manipulate Emily but you'll struggle to convince George Washington in any way, shape or form. The dialogue is the strongest part throughout most of the episodes.
Unfortunately, that stops and falls flat on its face on episode two, in episode two, you see very little usage of the dialogue which was the games massive draw in, for a shift in to puzzle based game play (true episode one has one as well), but unlike episode ones puzzle, where you can figure it out with a bit of logic. Episode two goes down the route of having to know about Bible verses and the story of Theseus. Also alot of walking back and forth in tedium until you either guess the right answer or blunder in to it.
The dialogue starts to return in episode three with the long awaited conference begins. Here the intrique of character differences and influences returns, unlike the jarring stop/starting of episode 2. Episode 3 ploughs along quite nicely, there's nice little puzzles in them, slightly less complicated than the previous two. You're introduced to a previosuly absent character in the form of Manuel Godoy, who's first act is one of anger, but also, the game does become slightly obsessed by his opinions in episode 4. What Godoy brings in, is the wonderful mechanics of having to find his weaknesses and strengths just like we did before (even if he is the most one dimensional character, which says alot considering the game has Napoleon Bonaparte involved).
Like a good series of Game of Thrones, it's also advisable not too get too attached to characters, especially if you're not trying to get everyone to like you, or indeed, if you make too many alliances. The game always seems to put you in a natural disadvantage, especially at the start of episode 2 (which goes downhill so quickly) and episode 4 (if you're on a particularly bad path).
Episode 4 is where the story kind of falls of a cliff and the interesting idea goes a bit pearshaped. Steeping itself in folklore and Bible stories, episode 4 seems to take a bit of an odd turn. There's a few strange surprises (which I won't spoil for you), and some new powers which would have been a lot more fun if you got them a little earlier in the game and got to expand them as the main class skilltrees offer you.
Episode 5 is even more three sheets to the wind. It goes down very quickly and then jars a particulalry interesting mini storyarc with a series of three puzzles. First finding the exit to various random visions and worlds within the Ether (the spirit realm) and meeting different spirits along the way. Then an odd game of organise the guests. Followed by piecing together memories to unlock a cutscene. How you react, means the story plays out differently at the end. There are several endings, which, if you're dedicated enough, you can see all of them from one save file, but isn't really neccessary if you're a trophy hunter.
As most of your main decisions very rarely affect anything important in the next episode, other than mostly bonding with characters you want to be close with, and with the exception of one in the last episode, they're all fairly disappointing.
A game that started off so strongly in the first episode got weaker and weaker, episodes becane shorter, some episodes favour one class over another unless you make sure, you're a jack of all trades sort of character, and a story that is both intriquing and disasterous at the same time.