Friday, April 26, 2019

Tea and Crumpets - The Council - Episode 1

Now that The Spooky Bois have finished our adventures in Raccoon City, it is time to begin a new journey.

Welcome to the Manor, as we enter a world of mystery and intrigue. At a pivotal moment in history, world leaders from George Washington to Napoleon Bonaparte gathered in the remote island estate of a mysterious host. The choices made will have impacts the world over, and we'll be right in the middle of it.

Will you join us at The Council... for Tea and Crumpets?

The thing the attracts me most to The Council is how it's hybridized RPG mechanics with traditional adventure games to make something truly unique. It's an interesting way to handle a game where conversation is the most impactful mechanic.

The protagonist, Louie, has a set number of Effort Points than he can spend on a check for each skill at his disposal.
  • At Level 1, using a skill will consume Effort Points equal to the difficulty of the check (for example, a difficulty check of 3 requires 3 Effort Point).
  • At Level 2, the Effort expended will be reduced by 3, but it cannot cost less than 0. (For example, a difficult check of 4 would cost 1 Effort, and any lower difficult checks are free.)
  • At Level 3, any checks made against that skill are free.
Depending on how the player spends their points they might unlock a whole different series of options than they would otherwise have access to. A master of Etiquette might feel right at home at the morning supper, but out of place when analyzing a gunpowder barrel because they don't know a thing about Science.

In addition, each of the other members of the cast have weakness and immunities to certain skills. Exploiting a weakness will reward the player with an effort point, while stumbling against an immunity will inflict them with a status ailment. Most often, these traits come into play during confrontations, which I'll explain next time. (Though I gave a cliffnotes version in the video.)

So the core loop of the game is in developing your skills, while discovering the dispositions of the other guests at the manor, to effectively navigate through these social circles and assert your own influence on the party. All the while, these skill checks also come into play during the puzzle solving aspects, by providing useful hints or bypass certain elements of some of the puzzles altogether.

Mechanically, it works. Many of the other elements of the game have much to be desire, but this core loop and social interaction system are a solid foundation that I'd like to see other games try to improve upon. I find it fun to poke around and learn about the rest of the cast, in anticipation of pressing them later.

I look forward to continuing our Tea and Crumpets, and I hope you are too.

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