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Review: Control
Control Review
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Anyone who knows me will know that I'm a huge fan of Remedy’s 2010 masterpiece, Alan Wake. And I don’t use the word masterpiece lightly either - I genuinely believe it was one of the best titles of the previous generation, without a shadow of a doubt. For me, however, Quantum Break was grounded a little too much in the real-world, opting for a more scientific approach in its narrative, rather than one full of mystery, like its predecessor with Mr. Wake. Look, I enjoy anything weird and wonderful, okay? Thankfully, for those with a love for the bizarre, the otherworldly and the unknown, Control, Remedy’s latest title, embraces it wholeheartedly, in a similar vein to our Midwestern writer friend’s venture into a similarly strange world.

Control sees you step into the shoes of the Federal Bureau of Control’s new director, Jesse Faden, as she attempts to get to the bottom of not only a recent invasion of an otherworldly race known as the Hiss, but also the whereabouts of her brother who’s been missing for 17 years. And yes, I did say the 'Federal Bureau of Control', a fictional governmental agency in the world of Control that deals with not just the paranormal but other dimensions and some frankly rather uncanny spiritual possession of various inanimate objects… like fridges, traffic lights and rubber ducks. Control is weird.


Jesse does telekinesis with style.

Control is absolutely frickin’ batshit crazy, in fact, what with its weird janitor, invisible headquarters and transforming building, and that’s not even scratching the surface. Remedy makes it work so damn well, though, wearing influences like Twin Peaks, The Outer Limits, The Twilight Zone and the like on its sleeve, adding to the game’s allure. It’s trippy, it’s surreal, it’s a paranormal escapade, and Remedy leans into all of these aspects brilliantly.

What Remedy’s latest outing absolutely nails is the perfect blend of narrative with its fun and intuitive combat. It’s almost as if Remedy decided to meld the narrative of Alan Wake with the fun and frenetic combat of Quantum Break. Mechanically, Control is an absolute blast to play and as you progress through the game’s freaky-deaky narrative, you’ll learn new abilities, upgrade your morphing service weapon and in no time at all you’ll be levitating your way through the FBC HQ, throwing chunks of destructible scenery at anyone who gets in your way.

Known as 'The Oldest House', the home of the FBC is a part of the world that defies the laws of space and time, letting Remedy off the leash in flexing its creative muscles. I can’t speak highly enough of the studio's art direction for Control, from the old '60s CRT monitors for the world’s work stations, the Dharma Initiative-esque video logs and the general attention to detail throughout the game’s setting. Remedy is still up there as the best around when it comes to environmental storytelling.

While Control's combat could have potentially ended up being a bit samey, Remedy’s pacing is almost pitch perfect, mixing things up with some cool and unique puzzles, and some epic set-pieces (one that involves another 'Old Gods of Asgard' song that's probably one of my favourite set-pieces in a number of years) that prevent the game becoming repetitive.

Throw in some really cool boss fights, plenty of secrets and some truly brilliant side missions – the less said about them, the better (one that involves clocks and another that involves a mirror, which are just as strong as the main narrative spring to mind) – and it’s quite difficult to point out where Remedy has gone wrong in terms of the game’s structure.

There are enough RPG mechanics littered throughout Control too, meaning you always have something to aim towards, whether it's new powers or more advanced weaponry. From a narrative perspective, Control really shines too. Not only has Remedy created one hell of a stunning and believably unbelievable world, but its handcrafted nature helps emphasise and heighten the story to the Nth degree.

The Oldest House is an odd venue for a game and Remedy has embraced this core element of 'weird' wonderfully with a narrative that complements the game’s unconventional setting. Control boasts a well-written script brought to life by some splendid acting - heck, even the sound design is phenomenal - but it must be said, if you go into Control unprepared to embrace the weird, then you’ll be missing the best part of the game.


Come fly with me...

Early on you could probably criticise Remedy for some nonsensical writing, it seeming almost sloppy in places – like, why do the employees of the Bureau just wholly accept Jesse as their new leader so easily? - something that is even acknowledged by our intrepid protagonist’s inner monologue. But that comes full circle in the latter aspects of the game, to the point where you go, “oh fuck! That’s actually some stellar writing.” Yes, there are some unexplained things that do happen in Control and its ending isn’t all that strong - it’s a little flat if we’re being honest - but the game has some great ideas, some truly epic environments and an enjoyable plot that will keep you gripped right up until the final credits have rolled.

A glowing assessment, then, right? Well, unfortunately, on a technical level, Control ironically loses control. Performance wise, Remedy's latest is a bit of a mixed bag, one that’s hampered by some shoddy frame rates when the action intensifies. And the menus are as laggy as Google Stadia might be if you live out in the sticks. This isn't even the sum total of Control’s technical issues. Sometimes the map will take an age to load, other times you’ll be sat in a cut-scene with no audio, sometimes you’ll be listening to the game’s audio logs and you’ll only hear one voice (thank all that is holy for subtitles!). These all conspire to take the edge off what would otherwise be a truly memorable experience.

Glaring technical snafus aside, Control is almost the best of both worlds when it comes to Remedy’s recent titles. It has the intrigue, the narrative and mystery of Alan Wake, combined with the ridiculously fun combat that Quantum Break introduced. It’s almost the ideal balance when it comes to action-adventure games. Control is not perfect by any means and falls short in delivering a satisfying ending, but Remedy’s continued ability to create new and captivating game worlds is second to none. Embrace the weird, embrace the wacky, and you’ll no doubt adore Remedy’s supernatural action thriller.

 

It’s exactly what we’ve come to expect from Remedy: great use of licensed tracks, superb audio design and some top quality voice acting.

Visually, you can’t knock Control at all. The world is superbly realised and a pleasure to traverse, but it’s unfortunately let down by some glaring technical shortcomings.

Control feels like a much tighter version of Quantum Break, chock-full of interesting powers and traversal. You’ll be levitating and raining forklift trucks down on the Hiss in no time.

A wonderfully handcrafted MetroidVania-style game that delights as much as it confuses with a well-written narrative and explosive set-pieces. It’s 10-15 hours of truly entertaining content, aside from the game’s technical issues, of which there are many.

Definitely a solid list from Remedy here, but super safe. No real risks in terms of creativity, but plenty of breadcrumbs to tempt you to chase the best the game has to offer.

Control is another absolute hit from Remedy, one that delivers from both a gameplay and narrative perspective. One of the generation’s most intriguing game worlds and almost perfect pacing, the only thing that holds Control back from being an all-time classic is its unfortunate and frustrating technical issues.

 
 
 
Game Info
Publisher:
505 Games
Genre:

Release:

US August 27, 2019
Europe August 27, 2019
Japan December 10, 2019

Players: 1
Online Players : 0
ESRB: Mature
Collection:111
Wishlist:52
 
 
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