REVIEW – Remedy Entertainment is finally back and ready to once again provide us with our dose of weird. After Quantum Break which dealt with time-travel, and science fiction, Remedy decided to plunge into the rich and deep history of urban legends, government conspiracies, and supernatural but every day looking items.
It feels like a fresh start for Remedy as they have moved away from Microsoft exclusivity in terms of releases, and even got their Alan Wake rights back. So as a fresh start they created a game that takes place in a Brutalist looking office building, that has been taken over by otherworldly beings. It is up to Jesse Faden to uncover the mysteries of the building, and also find his long lost brother in the process.
Worlds Upon Worlds
The story is not the easiest to describe, and a lot of the inspiration seems to have come from good old David Lynch, X-Files, conspiracy theories, and the SCP Foundation. In the world of Control, a government agency called The Federal Bureau of Control or FBC for short. The agency is tasked with collecting, studying and locking items away if they are too dangerous. Our protagonist Jesse Faden finds this agency’s headquarters and enters the building. At that point, things spiral out of control, as she must take on the mantle to become the new Director. As the old one committed suicide, and you seem to have natural immunity against The Hiss, the force that has taken over most of the staff. Plus Jesse is trying to find her brother who was abducted by the agency years ago after their hometown suffered and incident.
The story is good, but for those who are expecting a cinematic heavy game like God of War, or The Last of Us is going to be disappointed. In fact, the entire beginning of the game is one big confusion, but in a good way. It is part action, and part detective game trying to figure out what the agency does, and that is mostly done by finding documentation, videos, audio files, and even reading some whiteboards in certain rooms.
The voice acting is okay, and some of the facial animations are average in terms of detail. Plus for some Jesse might sound a bit too monotone for certain scenes, and lacks emotional punch. On the whole, the story for Control is an interesting mystery that luckily (without any spoilers), pays off. It has a lot of easter eggs related to other Remedy games, and all the documents are fun to read. Shame that the voice acting is just okay.
Lego Gun, and Telekinesis
The main weapon is The Service Weapon, which with the collectable upgrades can be reshaped to become a sniper rifle, a machine gun, a shotgun or a grenade launcher. These weapons have mod slots that allow for a higher rate of fire, less ammo consumption, or higher damage. To unlock the mod slots the player has to level up the weapons by upgrading them with the resources collected from dead Hiss Agents. Jesse can also upgrade her abilities with mods, which can result in lower consumption of energy, faster response time, or stronger shields. There are five levels of mods, from common to absolute.
There are also five powers with one of the optional to find, I’m not going to spoil the powers, as some are story related. All of these powers can be upgraded with skill points which are earned by completed missions and side missions. While there is a lot of diversity in weapons and powers, sadly not everything is great with the gameplay. Specifically, the gunplay is just lacking in the power and aiming department.
Once I got my Launch power which allows the player to grab debris or rockets/grenades – it becomes the most effective weapon. It resulted in me barely using the Service Weapon itself only in rare situations. Plus the Service Weapon is a bit of a pain to aim with, and launching huge chunks of rocks is so satisfactory. The enemy variety is fine, and some of the optional bosses are great, but it would have needed a bit more punch, a bit weirder rather than possessed troopers. No strange monsters, or interdimensional creeps, maybe in a sequel we will have more varied enemies.
The Sound and Sights of Hiss
The game looks great on the PlayStation 4 Pro and tries to use as much horsepower as it can from the machine. Debris flying around, walls cracking, enemies exploding, and light flowing all around the playing field. It all ends up as big spectacular chaos which is fun to see. However the consoles are getting on a bit, and the base consoles have a lot of slowdowns, and even the PlayStation 4 Pro it slows down to 10-15 FPS in certain situations. Also while the game looks gorgeous unfortunately there is no HDR, but (for those who can afford it) has RTX on the PC
The audio and the music is top-notch though, with some really great feedback when it comes to shooting, explosions, and enemy sounds. Poets of the Fall also makes a comeback for a couple of easter eggs, and the soundtrack for Control is just superb.
All in all the visuals are great, but to fully experience it a PC might be needed (or wait for next-gen consoles), and the audio has some very cool set-piece moments.
Fade to Black
In the end, Remedy created something unique, and interesting with a great story, and superb art style. Yet it is not for everyone, as the story is only fully understood with the collectables, and the imagery might be too David Lynch for some people.
All in all, Control is a great game that could have used a bit more budget, with a unique vision for 2019.
+ Great combat, and varied gameplay
+ Superb graphics
+ Interesting story
– Gunplay is a bit weak
– Can slowdown on consoles
– Environments might be a bit one-note
Publisher: 505 Games
Developer: Remedy Entertainment
Genre: Third-person shooter
Release date: August 27, 2017