Review: Control

Control has been one of the best games I have played in some time, the combat, the atmosphere and the ambiance has really shown how well concept can be polished to make a game that makes you say “one more mission, one more checkpoint”. It is a game that leaves you wanting more and still wondering what will be around the next corner. 

From the start you are thrust into an uncanny office setting that feels aggressively corporate and then you discover the catalyst for the madness to come, the current head of the Federal Bureau of Control has been murdered and in a simplified job application process you pick up his mantle, are found worthy and have to deal with the incursion besetting the Old House, the Hiss. 

You play as Jesse, a regular joe turned hero by the circumstances. She is one of the better blank slate protagonists, making comments where you might and being driven by a fairly understandable set of motivations. There are many times however a previous event is spoken of with reverence and if we could have had a prologue or flashback to the past it would make the dots easier to connect but Control does seem to want to deliberately blinker the player. Eventually answers will be given however expect the void to be refilled with new questions.

The sound and music of the game are stellar, ramping up at the right moments and adding atmosphere to intense combat and eerie tones for the more esoteric concepts. There are a couple of comedic or on the nose additions however I would say this helps to break up the cosmic horror and really help to give the game a more varied pace. This is a game that proudly presents itself as a game and that does result in some 4th wall breaking that ultimately helps the game to harken back to the greats like “Eternal Darkness”.

Combat at first feels very stiff and unforgiving, just stick it out in the beginning as it gets a lot better fairly quickly. Once you begin to unlock the abilities and some of the more useful guns combat goes from being very hard to challenging and rewarding. I did play on the harder difficulty because I like to suffer, and it was the correct amount of justified deaths mixed with some mystery instant deaths – a calling card of remedy, to give you challenge and keep you on your toes. 

The design of the game works well and there is a range of different environments to help make each area tell a different story. At time it can be tricky to work out exactly where the mission critical item or person can be, but this seems to invite the player to be more aware rather than just fellow the flashing yellow line which robs the player of the chance to resolve geographical puzzles.

The bad, at points the facial models of jess in particular look more like a brick made of ham than a human being and the initial difficulty may put off less masochistic players but stick it out, once you collect some objects of power you will find that the combat becomes a lot of fun and the script drops plenty of character-building lines that help to make you found of Jess. 

There are some areas that are inaccessible due to the hazards and once I had the mcguffin to make those areas accessible I would immediately seek them out again only to be disappointed to find nothing, perhaps a meta joke at my expense but there is a good array of secrets and likable and punchable npcs that reward you with useful ability points and sometimes useful mods. There is a system to add perks to the weapons or the player character, these can reduce the cost or time it takes to use abilities. At first you will find your self playing menu game but once you begin to unlock the highest tiered items you will find the tweaking becomes less required. 

There is a free addition to the game in the form “Expeditions”, being the side quest obsessed player, I did attempt these a few times to fail ultimately learning these are actually end game content rather than mid game side missions. So if you do enjoy the combat and want to test your metal then go to the juke box and watch the timer and pray you don’t get a horrid buff to the enemy. 

Overall I find the game to be engaging, fun and most of all respectful to the genre with enough confidence to break some rules or at the very least play with troupes from other similar games. Worth playing and here’s to hoping remedy will release a sequel that revisits the oldest house and possibly gives players a chance to explore the world that Remedy has crafted in such an enticing way. 

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