A few things to know before I get into this review:
- I’m a BIG history nerd. I’m the person that everyone knows better than to ever bring up historical topics in front of because I will hijack the conversation and become insufferable talking at anyone nearby. Is this game still enjoyable if you don’t fancy yourself a history buff? YES.
- I suck at QTEs, which has been previously made clear in every review I’ve done of games that have them.
- The art in this game is outstanding, especially the character art, and the characters creep me the hell out.
- The Council is a historical narrative/detective type game that presents you with an occult, alternative history of the late 1700’s, complete with a secret society, which has real members (like George Washington, who is easily the least creepy looking character here).
I won’t explain the game any further, except to say there are seemingly endless opportunities to replay it, because you’ll have a different experience and be presented with different opportunities based on the choices you made in character development.
That said, on to the accessibility.
Prior to starting a game (and anytime during gameplay) you have the ability to turn on subtitles. The subtitles are large enough and against a darkened background, although the option to resize them would be helpful for some players and this option is not available.
Another big problem I ran into with the subtitles was the lack of speaker tags. There were many instances in which the speaker was obvious because the camera was on them alone, but just as many instances in which I had no idea who was saying what because the scene had several people in it. There was also the problem of distinguishing between the inner monologue and spoken dialogue of Louis, the main character you take control of, as this is not indicated either.
One feature I really appreciated that added to my immersion as a deaf player, was the camera angle changing when you highlighted one choice or the other, when presented with the opportunity to do so. (Also notice here how the text is nice and legible and large!)
Visual cues are subtle yet very helpful. When you can further examine or interact with an object, it has a small blue dot on it that changes to an icon indicating the kind of action you can take.
One thing that absolutely tripped me up was the inconsistency of dialogue QTE choices. Some dialogue had no timer, some had a slow moving timer, and some had a timer that moved way too fast. It seemed like as soon as I got used to one, I’d be presented with another and would miss the important choice. Having the opportunity to slow down the time (an accessibility menu would be super helpful in this game) would have made the game much easier and less frustrating for me.
One thing this game does very well is indicate that you’re being presented with an important/game changing encounter. Your success in these instances is dependent upon both the skills you’ve chosen to build and your reading + decision making ability (which for me is not great).
This image isn’t of any import, it’s just the most creepy guy in the whole game and I thought it was important to show you his creepy clown makeup face.
Even with the accessibility missteps and oversights in The Council, I loved this game and I’m eager to play the remaining chapters when they’re released. While not without flaws, none of them make the game unplayable (more difficult, yes, but not unplayable) and I was still able to feel immersed in the story in spite of them. If you’re a fan of Telltale style games or solving a good mystery, The Council is definitely worth checking out.
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