Control Review

We all would like super powers, right? Maybe telekinesis, or levitation, or how about wielding a weapon that can transform, giving you all types in one? Well, in Remedy Entertainment’s latest offering, Control, you can do all of the above and then some. After playing through (and loving) their last project, Quantum Break, we were stoked to hear about Control and were dying to get our grubby hands on it. We were not disappointed, although in some areas, I wished for more. Sure, it’s great to make a pretty game chock-full of visual wonders, but the game needs to have substance. While Control has substance as well as style, some things left me feeling somewhat empty.

You control Jesse Faden, who turns up to the headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Control, or FBC for short, which is an agency that monitors and polices supernatural phenomena. Jesse heads there in search of her younger brother, Dylan. Dylan had been taken by the FBC after a supernatural event occurred in Jesse and Dylan’s home town of Ordinary that resulted in Dylan being possessed by an unseen hostile force passed to him through an “Object of Power”. When Jesse arrives at the FBC HQ, she finds the whole building has been overrun by this unseen hostile force, which is known as “The Hiss”, but thanks to an otherwise friendly force that resides in her mind (kind of like an anti-Hiss), Jesse is able to bypass the lockdown that the FBC has placed in effect. It’s not long before Jesse finds the FBC’s Director shot dead with the Service Weapon, a living handgun of sorts recognised as an Object of Power, which accepts you as its new wielder and, in turn, makes you Director. The plot is a lot to grasp, for sure, but thanks to the scattering of documents you find throughout the many rooms of the FBC, you will fathom out what things mean and what they are. It’s a thought-provoking and interesting premise that works a treat. It kept me gripped from beginning to end; however, I wanted to know more about the cast. Hardly any backstory or family history made me emotionally connected to either sibling. Same goes for the FBC employees you meet. They are brilliantly portrayed, don’t get me wrong, the lovable-but-weird janitor, Ahti, your first port of call when setting foot into the FBC, is an instant hit with his creepy demeanour but empowering willingness to point Jesse in the right direction. Again, we don’t know who he is, how he became janitor of this federal building that masks a bridge to an alternate plane of existence, or how he knows so much about it. It’s a common theme throughout the entire game, and it’s a shame.

Mechanically, Control is a third-person shooter; however, Jesse can also gain the use of certain powers that help her fight Hiss-corrupted employees by ridding the corruption within certain Objects of Power and absorbing their power. She is able to do this because of the force inside her head, who she regularly consults; however, it doesn’t have a voice. The first power Jesse gains is the power of Telekinesis. She can lift objects with her mind and shoot them towards her enemies. This ability is fantastic to use in combat due to its versatility. You don’t have to look at an object to lift it, using the power whilst not looking at anything will cause a part of the brilliantly destructible environments to become your weapon, whether it be pieces of the wall or floor. Its absolutely superb, and a key defensive ability Jesse will gain is a shield that she forms by hovering a cluster of debris in front of her. Another key ability Jesse obtains is the Seize ability, which allows her to take over the Hiss corruption in her enemies’ minds, enabling them to assist her in the fight.

All of the abilities can be upgraded via a simple skill tree by spending Ability Points earned by completing missions throughout the game. The Telekinesis ability can be upgraded to increase its damage, as well as enhance it to enable Jesse to pick up and throw enemies. The Shield can be upgraded to sustain more damage as well as enhanced to throw the debris once Jesse is done using it as a shield. Jesse Faden steadily becomes an unstoppable force as the game progresses, and it’s a good job considering the impressive number of different foes she will be up against. The Hiss can make people into weapons in almost any way, and some are horrifying. There are the regular grunts who are just workers converted into hostile soldiers who come at you with gunfire and the big guys who have huge rocket launchers and mini-guns. Then there are the weirdos that are dead bodies corrupted by The Hiss to become floating explosives. They slowly float towards you and explode, but if you’re quick enough, you can make these into your own weapons. Another strange but formidable foe are the Hiss-corrupted employees who are sat on chairs that hover high up. These guys are formidable because they are able to telekinetically throw debris towards Jesse, just like she can do to them. They are nippy too as throwing stuff at them causes them to swiftly dodge out of the way. Late game enemies, which I wont list, are even more deadly. Enemy versatility such as this makes Control a fantastic shooter with a lot of options and room to strategize.

The Service Weapon is Jesse’s main and only firearm that can also be upgraded using craft materials. Upgrades are to its form. The Shatter form is your basic shotgun mode, it has wide spread and is ideal for dealing with enemies close up and as a group. The Spin mode upgrade turns the Service Weapon fully automatic, and the Pierce upgrade is Control’s answer to a precise sniping variant. Every form can have perks attached that are found or crafted at one of the many Control Points that act as the game’s checkpoints and fast travel systems. These can be perks, such as increased damage at a certain percentage, less ammo spent on firing, increased force damage and more.

Remedy Entertainment are renowned for their high production values and premium visual quality, and Control doesn’t disappoint. Each and every room in the FBC/Oldest House is brimming with detail and intrigue, including mail rooms filled with busy desks, a security department succumbed to supernatural mould, and a place called the Ashtray Maze that is easily one of the most mind-bending yet enjoyable experiences I’ve ever had in gaming. At regular intervals, the late director, Zachariah Trench, relays messages to Jesse over the Hotline, which is basically a communication between the normal plane and the Astral Plane whenever she enters a new area in the Oldest House. This may sound unremarkable; however, it is the visuals that make it so interesting as an intimidating silhouette overlays and fills the screen in an impressive way. Character models are beautifully created and animated, giving off that Remedy realism we saw last time in Quantum Break. Suffice it to say, Control is a looker for sure.

Control is another fantastic entry from Remedy Entertainment made with such a high quality, it’s breath-taking. The excellently versatile combat brimming with options, Jesse’s interesting and handy abilities and the high production values make this game an absolute hit. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows though as there are problems in the lore, backstories and character building that prevented me from becoming emotionally invested, meaning once the credits rolled, I didn’t really feel enticed to replay the adventure.

Developer: Remedy Entertainment

Publisher: 505 Games

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC

Release Date: 27th August 2019

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