Developed by the minds behind Alan Wake and Quantum Break, Remedy Entertainment returns with another mind-bending hit, Control.
If you’ve played Remedy’s previous games, you probably already know what you are getting yourself into; a lot of questions. But if are willing to go on this mysterious adventure you’ll find yourself in a solid cover shooter that looks amazing.
Control is a third person, metroidvania styled shooter where you play as Jesse Faden, a young woman who arrives at a strange building in search of her younger brother. The strange building in question is run by the FBC, the Federal Bureau of Control, a covert organisation that looks to protect the country from other-worldly phenomena. (Think ‘Men In Black’ but instead of aliens it’s things called ‘Objects of Power’.) After searching the suspiciously empty building, you come across the Director’s office where you find the Director dead, due to apparent suicide. After picking up his service weapon, you are transported to another dimension where a large, black, upside down pyramid tells you that you are the new director of the FBC and that you have to push back and defeat the strange beings called the Hiss. You also now have telekinesis. If that all sounds a bit strange to you, don’t worry, it only gets weirder, just wait until you meet the Janitor.
One of the most satisfying things in Control is the aforementioned telekinetic powers. When you activate this power by moving your crosshair over an object and pressing a shoulder button, the object flies towards you knocking anything over that is in its path. You can slow it down right before it hits you, leaving it to gently float before you release the shoulder button and the object shoots off in the opposite direction knocking out whatever it hit. Probably a Hiss agent. You’ll do this a lot and over the course of 10 hours, I never got bored of it.
The Hiss is the hostile force and antagonist that Jesse will be facing for the duration of the game. A faceless entity that has taken over the members of the FBC and either mutated them or floated them to the ceiling. The Hiss agents will either just be your run of the mill guys with pistols/machine guns/rocket launchers, while others will be physically powered similarly to yourself. This means during combat you will always be on your toes, moving from point to point as the powered Hiss will look to flank you while you’re focussing on the “standard” Hiss in front of you.
During combat you’ll find yourself performing an engaging balancing act between using your powers and using your gun. Your gun is an Object of Power (OOP) and is the only weapon you’ll use throughout the game asides from your psychic powers. The gun can switch between the standard weapons you’ll often find in these sorts of shooters. Pistol, SMG and shotgun. This OOP doesn’t use ammo, and runs off an energy based system. As you shoot, a little ammo/energy count will appear around your crosshair, once its run out, it will quickly recharge and fill up again. Usually this is the perfect time to start using your psychic powers, which also happens to run off an energy system. Once that’s all used up, it’s back to the gun. Of course, I’m over simplifying here, but as you gain more powers and the different gun unlocks, you’ll come up with your own combat dance routine.
Last, but certainly not least, I need to touch on the visuals of the building you’ll be spending the entirety of the game in. The FBC building, also known as The Oldest House, is absolutely gorgeous. It’s worth mentioning that we played this game on the Xbox One X which takes advantage of its ray tracing capabilities. The lighting in this game is a key player to the setting and the tone and the X does a fantastic job of making it look amazing. The Oldest House is considered to be a ‘Place of Power’, a place that has been acted upon by paranatural forces and operates under their own internal logic. A building that’s constantly changing, a building that feels like it’s alive.
As you wander around The Oldest House, walls and rooms will shift and turn in front of you. As you gain more powers, more areas will open up to you. You move from corporate office spaces to industrial back rooms to a beach house in a pocket dimension. As confusing as this all might seem to be, Control maps everything out for you, including names of areas, way points and markers and even fast travel points. As confusing as the story can appear to be, your current object and place to head to is always on the screen. In classic Remedy fashion, throughout the building are many collectables to pick and see, from reports on potential Objects of Power to super creepy puppet shows that may or may not give you nightmares. There’s always something to read or see in nearly every room.
While Control’s story can often leave you feeling lost and out of control, the engaging gameplay loop, visuals, sidequests and upgrades will keep you grounded and point you in the right direction while you try to navigate a visually breathtaking environment. If you enjoyed Remedy’s previous games, you’ll feel right at home and if your new to the franchise, Control is an excellent place to start before you dive into Alan Wake or Quantum Break.