If we knew what the hell was going on in this game, maybe we could control how we feel about it.
Review by Darren Cartledge
Published 6th September 2019
- Developer: Remedy
- Publisher: 505 Games
- Release Date: 27th August 2019
What do you say when you don’t know what to say? This is the dilemma facing me as I sit here writing this review for Control, the supernatural themed third-person action game from Remedy. Let me start this off correctly, Control is in no way a bad game, far from it, its just weird!
Control places you in the role of Jesse Faden, who has travelled to New York searching for answers about the disappearance of her brother several years earlier. The investigations see her arrive at a towering building that only she can seemingly perceive! This is the Bureau of Control and things are not going well within its walls. The building, named the “Oldest House”, is on full lockdown. An unknown force, Jesse decides to name the hiss, has taken control of the vast majority of the bureaus agents and sees them floating around with glowing red eyes whilst chanting. Yes, you guessed it, there are some “hiss” that will attack Jesse as she searches for answers about her missing brother.
Within around 10 minutes of arriving in the building, Jesse soon finds herself thrust into the position as the new director of the Bureau, despite her being a total stranger whom no one has ever seen before, all the NPC’s in the game readily accept her as their new boss. Weird? The story is full of supernatural incidents and conspiracies and is progressed by standard cutscenes that fill in some of the details. Then there are some very strange cryptic messages and even strange interactions with the “board” that fill in further gaps and even a freaky and quite frankly strange janitor that seems to think you’re his new assistant. Personally, I found the story in Control rather uninspiring, drawn out and needlessly hard to follow. It made it difficult to sit down and play it for long periods of time as I just could not get engrossed or make a connection to the character. This made playing through Control feel like a real chore at times.
Despite, my misgivings about the games story, Control is actually a very good game. Upon entering the Oldest House, Jesse soon discovers she can use certain supernatural abilities to combat the hiss and this is area where the game really shines. Control, unlike most games that endow you with special abilities, doesn’t make you wait! Jesse’s special abilities are unlocked early in the game and this serves to give you a real feeling of power which only increases throughout the game thanks to the upgrade system. Remedy have done a fantastic job of creating a true sense of power with Jesse’s abilities and combining them during combat is extremely good fun and strangely addictive. It’s most definitely one of the better systems I’ve experienced in a game.
Jesse is not only armed with her powers! She also has the directors service weapon! Basically, like everything else in the game the service weapon is a mysterious object of power that looks like a pistol but has multiple forms. These forms allow Jesse’s weapon to act like various different weapons ranging from a pistol to a submachine gun. Using the gun in its various forms is surprisingly satisfying. It’s accurate, effective and its shots are crisp. The weapons shatter form, equivalent to a shotgun in other games, is extremely satisfying to use. The shooter action in Control is definitely some of the best seen in a third-person game.
Having said that, all is not perfect with the games combat system and at times it can be damn right frustrating. Enemies tend to spawn in large numbers and in various types, not really a problem and it is amazingly good fun flinging explosives back at demolition hiss, almost Jedi like. What makes it frustrating is the games narrow field of view and the fact that enemies, because they’re ‘hiss’ and all supernatural and weird, they will spawn right next to you but out of view or worse right behind you. This can often lead to your death as you’re busy fighting the enemies you can actually see.
Another area in which Remedy has really excelled with Control is in creating a truly suspenseful and eerie atmosphere that at times can send chills running down your spine. Most notably the never-ending chanting that is frankly very unnerving. The dimly lit rooms with cleverly placed light sources that cast sinister shadows only add to the feeling of tension. Of course, prior to its release there was a big fuss made of the games use of raytracing and to be honest it does make a difference, enhancing the suspense filled supernatural feel of Control. Is it a game maker? No! Just a nice addition that helps immerse you into the messed-up world Remedy has created.
I have mixed feelings about Control if I’m honest, on the whole it’s a solid action game with great combat varied enemies set in an amazing an atmospheric world. The game does what many similar titles have failed to, deliver a true feeling of being powerful to the player. But the story telling aspect for me just doesn’t work very well, meaning prolonged play was difficult as I just couldn’t get fully immersed in this amazing world Remedy had created.
Review Score: 7/10
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