If you’re so used to games that make you easy, Control’s confrontational nature is immediately compelling. There’s enough time to get to know characters, study the environment, and gradually gain new mechanics and skills. Still, Control’s sinister atmosphere is impressive, sending a wave of questions through your mind from the moment you hit start. This is our Control Review.
Control Review: About
- Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X
- Developer: Remedy Entertainment
- Publisher: 505 Games
- Genres: Third-person shooter, Action-adventure game
- Release Date: August 27, 2019
Control Review: Gameplay
Who is Jesse Faden? Why does she seem lost as well as found on her first day as a director at the Federal Bureau of Control? How can she maintain her composure despite the ghostly ethereal and material distortions that have overtaken the agency? You may only have some answers by the time the credits roll. While fuzzy or opaque can be seen as a bug in other games, the eclipse is part of what makes Control so captivating. Impressively, the mysteries keep getting closer as you navigate the agency headquarters in search of answers. Knowledge is power, but it often opens doors to possibilities you never knew existed – doors that are better left closed, as far as Jesse and surviving FBC members are concerned.
If you’ve played previous works of Remedy Games, you will immediately recognize the studio’s footprint. Control’s story follows with grim truths and strange themes. Everything is serious unless it isn’t, and a dark sense of humor creeps in to provide a temporary respite – which, yes, includes a lot of FMV shorts. The combat system is designed to be agile and destructive, with a striking resemblance to the studio’s Microsoft-exclusive Quantum Break. Fight aside, that game felt like a step away from what Remedy does best. Control feels as if Remedy has found a foothold again.
This would be a significant problem if not for two things: the signage in the world is surprisingly useful, and ultimately Control makes wandering the corridors of “The Oldest House” a consistent pleasure. If you’re not impressed with the architecture, you’re likely to get your kick out of a fight popping up when you least expected it.
It is a bit misleading to refer to FBC’s headquarters, although you will understand how in time. In practical terms, it’s a substantial multi-story facility that screams government, with angular interiors formed in stone and metal, with a minimal flourish. It has the appearance of an orderly place of process, which, while true, undermines its reality or lack thereof.
Back in the “real” world, humble agents and senior FBC enforcers have been massively damaged. Many float harmlessly in the air and sing strange mantras in boardrooms, corridors, and research facilities. Generally, there are floats when there is headroom. The more aggressive group emerges before your eyes as you explore the desk. Like Jesse, they fight with a mix of weapons and telekinetic powers. They are generally fun opponents, and fighting is interrupted by some incredible special effects.
There are a few unique enemies or bosses to talk about, but overall, when combined with a wide variety of architectural layouts, the AI makes for an engaging battle. Whether it’s a simple encounter or a sophisticated attack, you must approach the fight with a juggling act in mind, switching between rising ammo and paranormal energy when one runs out. You also need to learn how to defend and repair the damage. The only method to heal in combat is to pick up the essence that has fallen from fallen enemies, so you often have to throw yourself into battle and protect yourself from further damage at the same time.
New powers come with milestones in the story, but weapon shapes are made from collectible materials. Their stats, and Jesse’s, are increasing with the application of randomized ranked mods that have been removed by enemies and found in hidden containment boxes. You’re likely to run into hundreds of mods, but since you can only hold and use a limited number, you’ll eventually dismantle most of them to free up space in your inventory. Mods can make a tangible difference, particularly once you start finding high-ranking, but they can’t make up for lack of skill or understanding of Jesse’s tools during the game’s best tests.
With a fair amount of extracurricular exploration, it took me about 15 hours to reach the end of Control’s campaign. While I saw the credits roll, there are still plenty of side quests for me to tackle. After all, Jesse isn’t the only healthy person in the agency, and the handful of significant NPCs in every industry have gone missing, or projects have been left that could endanger the agency in the future. Not only do they give you more reason to spend time in Jesse’s shoes, but the supportive cast is excellent across the board, brought to life with excellent voice actors and top-notch character design.
One of my favorite aspects of Control now that I have room to breathe is to spend quality time with its collectible lyrics and videos. I’ve managed to read most of the in-game materials as I go through the main missions and tackle optional pursuits. However, there are so many fascinating threads to pull on that it’s easy to imagine your new possibilities lurking. If I would study the evidence a little closer, or consider a new angle, perhaps the missing bits of Jesse’s story would come into view. These tidbits can be educational, disturbing, and at times hugely entertaining, and have inspired me to delve deeper into such topics as Jungian psychology.
Control Review: Conclusion
It is not often for a game to enter my mind the way Control does. I am at the point where I want to consume everything it has to offer. And to be honest, I also want me to go back to replay Remedy’s previous games. Sure, it’s a malfunctioning Metroidvania in some ways, but so many exceptional features are on the idea that Control conveniently fends off any temporary anger. I can’t wait to participate in discussions about the game, to see what others have come up with, and to understand better where it all fits into Jesse’s story.