PlayStation 48.80
Overall 8.80
Remedy games have always had tight gunplay with some unique ideas but always faltered when it came to the level design. Games like Max Payne featured way too much repetition, mobs of enemies indiscriminately shoved into basic rooms for the length of a game. I figured Control would end up in the same situation but Remedy finally decided to focus on level design, forgoing their usual linear game design for a more Metroid like world that is filled with surprises.

The concept of Control is genius; it takes a genre I was not too familiar with, SCP fiction where a fake government agency deals with paranormal entities, and builds this detailed rich mythology that I feel could be a television show. You play as Jesse, a woman who was once the subject of an AWE, altered world event. For some unknown reason she is drawn to The Oldest House, a building in NYC that hides in plain sight and serves as the base of operation for the Federal Bureau of Control. She is a fish out of water and so is the player, the first hours will be confusing as hell as you are thrust right into this new world with no explanations. Personally I felt they could have done a better job with easing the player into the mythology, I was mostly confused and a little disinterested at first. Hours in it becomes clear and very compelling through some of the best world building I’ve seen in a game this gen. The story of the Federal Bureau of Control and their subjects gave me huge X-Files vibes with great characters and in a genius move a way to tie up all Remedy’s storylines into one shared universe.

Fast fluid combat is a staple of Remedy games ; they usually include a certain hook unique to each game, Control’s hook is telekinetic powers. Jesse is able to launch objects Jedi Knight style at enemies. With the flick of a button large objects can be hurdled at a target and later on multiple targets. This costs some energy that needs a few seconds to refill, during which you can use your specialized gun which morphs into different forms the usual pistol, shotgun, mini gun, sniper. These weapons use special ammo which also recharges after some time, combat becomes a balance between using powers and ammo, allowing one to recharge as you unload with the other. Only two weapon types can be switched on the fly which is rather limiting. You can still pause the game and switch the two presets in the menu but in the middle of a fight that’s not something most players will want to do.

On top of telekinesis Jesse can also conjure shields out of objects, can convert injured enemies into an ally, and at the mid game point get the biggest game altering skill, levitation. Once you can fly the games combat and exploration really takes off, no longer are you bound to hiding behind pillars for cover, just take flight, dodge in air, rain down debris on enemies from above. Enemies will be flying around as well creating these great ballets of distraction as office desks are being flung all over the room, energy beams are flashing, explosions all over, combat can be an absolute rush. All these skills and weapons can be upgraded as you explore and gain skill points to spend as you see fit. There are mod attachments for the weapons and Jesse that alter her offensive and defensive stats, its not as deep as an RPG but it does feel like Jesse is progressing and getting more powerful the more you look for hidden chests or complete side quests.

Control truly has something special with the combat mechanics but the encounter design is lacking which holds it back from really entering the pantheon of the greatest third person shooters. Most enemy encounters are actually randomly generated; because this is a metroid style game with lots of back and forth through a world enemies will randomly invade rooms to give the player something to do. This tells me one thing, the environments are not custom made for specific battles. Most rooms are essentially battle arenas with some verticality to create spaces where fun battles can happen but never reaches the highs of a game where the environment is tailor made for a specific combat situation. This leads to the feeling of repetition as the rooms begin to blend to together. The mix of enemies has no rhyme or reason, one time you will get some big brutes, other times annoying flying enemies, it’s all the same. Tactics don’t have to be altered, mostly fly around and launch objects while taking strategic shots to whittle down the enemy count. I found the combat to be engaging enough where I wasn’t ever bored but the game could have used more scripted action sequences and better enemy variety.

Forgoing the linear structure of most their games, Control takes on a more Metroid like design in a building with multiple floors and areas that slowly open as the game goes on. For the first six hours or so the game mostly pushes you to specific areas, with little else to do except the core missions. That changes as side quests and new challenges open up just at the right moment; this is where the game sunk its teeth in me. I like surprises, there is nothing more boring than a game where you know that no matter where you search you are simply going to find more of the same, it kills the drive for exploration. The moment a game throws a curveball at you that feeling changes, now I want to search every inch, do every side quest because I don’t know what to expect; that’s where Control excels, it has some devilishly clever side quests that gave me the surprises I desired. There are hidden puzzles and more importantly wild optional boss battles that can be completely missed. Once I got the first taste of how creative Control could be I made sure to do every quest and while they aren’t all winners the storylines tied to them all add to the already fantastic mythology and made the pursuit of them worth it. On top of well hidden secrets there are combat challenges to overcome and I love me a good challenge. Control crossed off all the ingredients needed to be a great action adventure game. When I wanted to jump back into the main quest it was easy to move right to where I wanted to be and continue. Whenever I had that itch to do my own thing there was usually a new side quest or challenge waiting for me.

I purposefully waited for the PS5 version because I knew this was a very demanding high end game. The graphics are stunning and include some of the best environmental destruction effects I have ever seen. Every thing reacts, shoot a desk and it splinters down into smaller and smaller pieces. Throw a desk in a room and watch papers and debris fill the room in spectacular fashion. I played the game mostly with ray tracing on, the lighting and reflections were some of the best I’ve seen, the lighting in particular used effectively as a gameplay mechanic as well. On underpowered consoles this game chugs but on the PS5 it was a smooth, extremely polished experience. The voice acting is mostly going for that x-files vibe of serious but not too serious, hell the best parts are when it sinks all in on the weird. There is a great performance by I believe the actor who played Alan Wake, who in this game does live action videos of a scientist you never meet in the game but the videos tell such a great story that he feels like one of the main stars. I loved everything about this story and the performances within.

Control is Remedy’s best game and it’s by a considerable amount. They have always been inventive with the combat and subject matter but never pulled it together with the level design until now. This is a big action game with over twenty hours of quality content, side stories and secrets galore. Some more care needs to be put into the combat scenarios as to not be as repetitive, that’s all that’s holding back Control from the elite in the genre. I believe Remedy has something special here with this concept, there is no reason this could not expand into movies or a tv show. Whatever the future plans are I want more of the adventures of Jesse and the FBC.

Posted by Dvader Tue, 09 Mar 2021 04:06:46
Thu, 01 Apr 2021 10:56:41
You make me want this. Was not a fan of Alan Wake which put me off Remedy.
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