Publisher: 505 Games
Platform: PS4, XB1, PC
Genre: Third-person shooter
Just when I thought Remedy was done making games that blew my senses away at times metaphorically, this plops out. After a somewhat period of misgivings with Microsoft when it came to their exclusives like Alan Wake and Quantum Break, Remedy decided to take their storytelling for other major platforms as well.
Control is a rather unique item with strange paradigms thrown in but comes with some reminiscing feeling of other mediums. Of course, Remedy is no stranger to the surreal hence Control also doesn't go far off the realms of people's understanding for the bizarre. It often goes from beautifully sinuous to being macabre. Just the right content for a neatly packed supernatural thriller.
Am honestly little mixed about certain aspects of the game but could care less about them thanks to the sheer volume of non-stop adrenaline pumping and engaging gameplay. Along with a heavy dose of lore and easter eggs and great storytelling being brought here. They've also pushed the envelope for awestruck visuals.
The game starts away without a backdrop of information about who you exactly are and why you're here. It wastes no time as you dive into the eerie interior of the Federal Bureau of Control. Playing as Jesse Faden, who with her somewhat translucent kaleidoscopic telepathic friend venture into dangerous territory to restore civility as the newly appointed director and of course, find her long lost brother.
The story when it comes to her and her brother doesn't leave much to offer, but elsewhere there's so much to explore in invigorating fashion. Interesting characters ranging from Trench, the former director voiced by the guy who voiced Max Payne(still somehow does I hope) and Ahti, a mysterious European-immigrant/janitor who acts as a guide for Jesse at times in tougher situations.
As you explore the bureau, so much is in disarray that your new occupation leaves a lot to do which often leads to few mundane chores to chores that are bafflingly strange yet amusing and some that are really mind-bending. Among those you find documents, video essays and so on helping you delve and be immersed into its strange world. I mean it takes a lot of the influences from Twilight Zone, Fringe, Twin Peaks and so on, but leaving some originality to it.
Again, some aspects like the creepy kids show that pops in on the TV, leave more to be desired. But, there's more good stuff to see that keeps you very busy. All I can say is, it doesn't best Max Payne when it comes to leading story, but the mysterious world it leaves behind, puts itself on a whole different level while complementing the main narrative.
As Jesse, you're pitted fighting against the Hiss....well most of the time. A collective entity that has possessed most of the bureau's inhabitants and has demon-like abilities. Alongside with telepathic friend, Polaris, you cleanse, secure areas and eliminate threats as the newly appointed director for the Bureau.
Every time you step into the foray, you feel a bit invisible. More so once you unlock new abilities from claiming Objects of Power. You're basically Jean Grey with the addition of brainwashing your enemies to be on your side. Of course, while all said and done this game feels fun and hectic to play, you have to manage your energy levels and ammo which both regenerates. Waves of enemies will be thrown in, some are difficult to tackle with your psychics so it requires you to switch up your tactics often.
Make no mistake, this game can be difficult at times, not brutal but if you make a few silly mistakes here and there, it will cost you dearly. That's what I love about the combat in Control. It's intense, challenging, addictive and can be downright fun with some special trivial moments added along with it.
Of course, a game like this comes with its various sections of puzzle-solving. While not requiring high-intellect or lot of time plus effort behind it, they certainly carry nuance and are involved in being very intuitive.
You'll pick up materials called Assets that you'll use for making mods, upgrading your weapons or unlocking new modes for them. Upto 5 modes to switch from(modes meaning changing weapon form, mods are enhancements). You also have to manage your mods which you collect as you progress through the game. Finishing main missions gains you ability points, which upgrades most of them and provides interesting perks like catching rockets in mid-air back towards enemy A.I.
Trekking through the levels, you cleanse Control Points for each specific area of the map which you'll use to teleport, spend ability points, upgrade weapons or mods. They also act as checkpoints in case you die.
Now the game doesn't differentiate when it comes to quests, you have to figure out which one is the primary for the story, though doing quests that involve gaining new powers are essential for finishing the game. Other quests revolve around side stories of other characters or collecting/elimination duties. At random times, you'll get a Bureau Alert quest which is set at a 20-minute time limit of which you clear out a certain area of Hiss invasion. These come and go anytime, so feel free to participate if you want when it drops by. Then there's the Board Countermeasures, a set of lofty challenges which involves you killing X amount of Hiss with an X kind of weapon. They become useless at the end as you don't receive greater rewards as you should.
Also, I need to mention this in addition, but there are so many boss battles to fight with. Some more difficult, intense and look captivating than their peers in the main story missions.
Strolling through the areas with your map isn't helpful, that's because the map layout is little vain. Getting to an area is easier if you follow the signboards in the game. But oftentimes, it can be a little frustrating and circumvents the experience.
The gunplay in control is tight, dashing and flying while engaging enemies feels sublime and different compared to many games that came before it. While you're busy being a busy body, you can collect files, notes, recordings, taps or tap into the hotline with the former director who gives you scenes with expositional dialogues under neon lights. Learn more about the world and the terminologies reading into each of the collectibles.
When it comes to visuals, Control doesn't disappoint. Using Remedy's Northlight engine, Control pushes quite more than just visual flare when it comes to aspects like chromatic aberrations, depth of field, shadow mapping, texture filtering, details and more. This includes a lot of physics and destructible environment. The PC version provides enough options for you to customize. This is also one of the titles that feature Ray-Tracing, which I haven't tested yet because my GPU doesn't support it. The game is also better optimized, albeit still a demanding game.
When it comes to the animation though, it feels a bit lackluster, like minor details are lacking. During cinematics, you see better value in production when it came to facial animations. But that kind of differs when you're just having a conversation with someone during in-game. A bit off-putting.
Though by no stretch is this game perfect, I've experienced few bugs here and there, my game crashed randomly and enemy A.I would just be at standstill. Of course, some of these got patched out, but one of the main issues I had with that trumps over the rest is the fact that I lost 3hrs of my savegame because the one time my computer crashed randomly, relaunching the game would just flicker minimizing and maximizing the application. I had to tinker the save files before finally getting in, but I lost 3hrs of progress thanks to this accident. Hope that get's rectified later on.
Hey, here's a trivia. Poets of the Fall provided some of their songs as they usually would, though they play as an alter-ego band aptly named Old Gods of Asgard. Which btw, is first introduced from Alan Wake. Could be another connected universe?
Anyhoo, back to topic. Sound design is on a wider spectrum of audio than most games, that's because there's so much going on. From object collision to ones levitating and being thrown at enemy's faces. Everytime you grab something, there's a warping noise that goes from low to high when the object is at your hand. Sporadic flash noise when shooting up your Spin weapon mode which also echoes depending on location. The minutiae of detail in the audio is explicit as it is astounding to hear.
As for music, there's not a whole lot to talk about for me. But it's adequate enough as it was for Wolfenstein when the composer worked on it. But the additional licensed soundtracks from Old Gods of Asgard are nice additions along with their novelties.
Control could be called a lot of things for me, it's a tribute, homage or personification of true supernatural thriller. It also has Remedy's blueprints all over. While I didn't dig the story, I just found the world inside strangely intriguing enough to be sucked in. If you also follow SCP content, you're in for quite a treat.
While their last game was a mixed bag for me, this made more than amendments for me and grew the respect I had for these developers almost 2 decades ago. I couldn't get enough of it after my 20+ hour playthrough.
Thank you Sam Lake and the guys who've worked into this amazing title. My final score is strongly teetering to
Hey guys, thanks for the read. Enjoyed the heck out of this game, let me know if you've played a Remedy game and still expecting an Alan Wake sequel like real soon. Also am going to upload a clip, it will be spoilers a bit, but this is an epic scene that was a testament to how crazy and talented the guys in Remedy are.