The Council - Episode 5: Checkmate (Xbox One) Review

By Josh Di Falco 26.09.2019

Review for The Council - Episode 5: Checkmate on Xbox One

Big Bad Wolf attempts to wrap up what has been a most intriguing narrative. The Council has been part political-thriller and part demonic-possession story. The previous four episodes saw all the seeds get planted, and pawns being moved around the board, thus Episode 5: Checkmate has a tough job of trying to find an adequate way to finish Louis de Richet's story. The previous episode gave some new dramatic reveals, and he is finally a player in the game. Now let's play.

When it was revealed in episode three that Lord Mortimer was a Daemon, the trajectory of Louis' story was still quite clear. However, in the previous episode, Burning Bridges, the huge revelations that followed changed the entire narrative of The Council up to this point, as well as how the game will end in Checkmate. Simply put, Louis is Lord Mortimer's son, and is in fact a Daemon himself. From the beginning, Louis just felt like a pawn in his game of chess. This had been cleverly foreshadowed in the first episode, when Lord Mortimer and Gregory Holm were playing a game of chess in Louis' vision.

But Louis had felt like he was a small part of the grander story at play here, and that one wrong move could end his life. Instead, that entire feeling of consequence could not have been farther from the truth. The way that Checkmate flips that around and grants Louis' newfound demonic powers to give him the ability to now possess and influence the cast of characters is a huge change. Previously, during character confrontations and conversations, Louis had to rely on manipulating the characters using their strengths and weaknesses to different topics. However, now Louis has the ability to mind-read the characters thoughts to learn new information upon which to surprise them with during a conversation or confrontation.

Screenshot for The Council - Episode 5: Checkmate on Xbox One

These moments are quite interesting, although there's still a restrictions of limited use. The only chess pieces that Louis cannot adequately manipulate with his powers are Lord Mortimer or Gregory Holm - who are the two master players, and are highly-skilled daemons. Unfortunately, Louis newfound powers is still used to try and manipulate the events around the land of Louisiana and ownership of the land between Spain, France and the United States. While The Council had previously focused on the political drama around this, at this stage, does any of it really matter? Louis has just learned that Lord Mortimer and Gregory Holm, among other Daemons have played roles in many historical moments that have shaped this planet. They can live for many years by simply inhabiting bodies and taking full control of them. Sure, their endgame is to simply continue ruling over the pesky humans and 'pretend' like humans have some form of free-will.

The whole daemon story does become a bit of a cheesy remake of Star Wars or Game of Thrones. If Louis had slept with Emily and Emma Hillsborrow in previous episodes, then the grand reveal of episode four about them being a daemon also and is related to Louis makes things a bit weirder. Sarah, Louis fake mother, is his sister and Holm is Mortimer's brother, thus making him Louis' uncle. Of course, by now, Checkmate's political story was tainted by the fact that anyone of the other characters, from Napoleon to George Washington, or even Piaggi could have been revealed as a daemon too.

Screenshot for The Council - Episode 5: Checkmate on Xbox One

Checkmate does feature an annoying few challenges that are as obscure and cryptic as ever. Louis must solve these challenges, and is given barely any instructions on how to do so or what to even do. Whether it is piecing together memories of a certain individual in a specific order, or literally rearranging the cast of characters into a specific order in the grand hall, these challenges are head-scratchers, and not just because they are difficult. Where do these fit into the story? What purpose do these have? Who knows?

Trying to stick the landing with a satisfying end can be tricky. So of course, Checkmate provides countless different endings and they are dependent on which choices were made up to the point. If Louis found the correct lance spear in the previous episode, his ending will differ to if he found the wrong spear. Of course, while possessing Piaggi in the previous episode, failing the confrontation would have seen Von Wöllner poison Louis, which also plays a role in affecting the outcome. Emily or Emma Hillsborrow being alive can even further change the outcome, as well as finding Al Azif or not.

Screenshot for The Council - Episode 5: Checkmate on Xbox One

With these multiple endings, there are the good and the satisfying, and there are the painfully bad. While the cliché is that the endings shouldn't kill a journey, "it's the friends we made along the way," in The Council the ending does need to stick the landing for the story to avoid being one huge sham. Hell, there are some endings that even raise more questions that will forever be left unanswered, unless Big Bad Wolf attempt to do a sequel. Fortunately, the bugs and glitches were not as prevalent as in previous episodes so that was a shining light in is an otherwise dark and brooding final episode.

The Council probably needs multiple playthroughs with the benefit of hindsight in order to better appreciate the story that Big Bad Wolf was trying to tell. This ambitious approach as well as the many endings may even be something worth going back to every now and then to experience new decisions or pathways to see how they impact on the ending. However, the inconsistent endings, and many question marks still hanging over the narrative, as well as the mind-numbing challenges do put a dampener on this ambitious story.

Screenshot for The Council - Episode 5: Checkmate on Xbox One

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 6 out of 10


Big Bad Wolf does their best to pull out a satisfying ending that is totally dependent on Louis' decisions leading up to this point. Some endings are good, and some endings are poorly constructed, and whichever Louis gets can make or break the story that Big Bad Wolf is trying to tell. While it is clear that The Council is designed for multiple playthroughs to select different choices to influence different endings, the challenges thrown into Checkmate do make it a grind to have to replay, and to be honest, none of the good endings are even worth pursuing to that extent. The Council tells an intriguing and ambitious story, and Big Bad Wolf have shown the potential of what they can achieve for their next endeavour.


Big Bad Wolf


Focus Home Interactive

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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