Control feels like the culmination of everything Remedy Games has been working towards. The bizarre and interesting worlds from their past games were filled with mystery to uncover and are now meshed with incredible third person action game-play in Control. This sci fi thriller keeps you guessing and wanting to know more and sets the foundation for the studio to build something truly great.
Jesse Faden is the new director of the Federal Bureau of Control, a secret government organization that investigates supernatural events. As Jesse, you’ll explore the Bureau’s headquarters, the Oldest House, which is now in the midst of a lockdown where a threatening force has made employees turn into hostile monsters known as The Hiss. You’ll need to bring all the major sectors back online before raising the lockdown, and you’ll do that with the help of the remaining bureau employees. The handful of characters you’ll interact with are mostly there to give the next quest, but they offer additional dialogue options to give you a better idea of their personality or hints for what to do next. While the main drive is quelling the Hiss threat, Jesse has an ulterior motive in coming to the bureau as she thinks they might have been involved in events earlier in her life and had something to do with her brothers disappearance. These two threads make for a compelling experience and how they intertwine and twist make for more questions than answers. And while the main story goes into some predictable directions there’s more to unpack in the larger world.
Jesse’s story isn’t the only one going on as the oldest house ultimately stole the show for me. The environments are massive with plenty of secrets hiding around every corner. Collectible documents, audio logs, and of course in Remedy fashion, weird live action videos to watch on a CRT. These are scattered around the environments for you to uncover across the four different sectors: Executive, Research, Maintenance & Containment. While the environments are very industrial and concrete structurally, each one has their own distinct flavor and are hiding areas with side stories and events that are often just as compelling as the main story. An underground labyrinth taken over by mold monsters, or a killer fridge are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what otherworldly horrors you can uncover. Completing these quests then feeds back into the gameplay by awarding you skill points for the skill tree or weapons mods. It’s a standard approach to upgrades but it works and is not overbearing and allows the discovery of the bureau take center stage.
Right from the get-go you feel powerful as Jesse. With her service weapon in hand and telekinetic powers in the other you’re almost immediately taking down foes with relative ease. Your service weapon starts as a somewhat basic pistol but you can unlock transformations for it that make it act like a shotgun, or a machine gun or other various weapons. These variants unlock from crafting materials that drop from enemies or chests scattered around the sectors. Those Materials also let you upgrade the weapon even further by slotting in mods that let you tune each to your liking. Shatter, which is the shotgun equivalent, has mods that make its spread smaller for more powerful shots or ones to increase it’s ammo count.
Personal mods can also be equipped to finer tune your telekinetic abilities. These abilities are mostly unlocked through the main story but there are two powers that are completely optional. You could miss or skip them if you’re not exploring. They won’t disappear but you’ll have to go off the main path if you want to find them. You can hurl pretty much any object in the environments at enemies, and with upgrades even the enemies themselves. Combining your abilities and service weapons is super satisfying and a necessity in some cases. Adding in the shield ability or levitation into this mix makes for a lot of combat options and can make every fight feel like a toolbox of cool shit you can pick from and have fun with.
I can use a lot of superlatives to describe how much I love Control. The combat is some of the most fun I’ve had in a third person action game in years. The game completely exceeded my expectations in scope. What I thought might of been just a 10-15 hour linear story driven game turned out to be this much more expansive game of discovering this supernatural world through Jesse’s eyes. I’ve put about 30 hours in and still have side missions to complete and more awesome environments to explore. I can’t wait to see what becomes of this new universe and what’s next for Remedy Games.
This game was reviewed on a PlayStation 4 Pro system with a review code provided by the publishers of the game