Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: August 27th, 2019
Developer: Remedy Games
Publisher: 505 Games
This title was provided to Gaming Instincts for review by 505 Games.
Control Anything but Natural Final Verdict
So what would you do if you had no work experience, no family to look to, and more importantly no past at all? What if an entity inside of your head decided to take you back to your missing brother and help you find the agency that took him? Remedy’s Control will answer all of those questions for you.
This highly-anticipated title from the creators of Quantum Break, Max Payne 1 and 2, and Alan Wake is here for both consoles and PC and it’s got tons of mysteries to solve, powers to use, and enemies to shoot. Whether it’s enjoying the spooky atmosphere of the highly-secured Federal Bureau building or using the many different powers you gain to explore the deeper parts of Bureau the game can definitely be a blast to play.
After an incident many years ago, Jesse Faden finally finds the Federal Bureau of Control building a.k.a The Oldest House where her brother has been held in since the incident in the town of Ordinary. After discovering that the director of the Bureau killed himself and picks up his gun, things go awry when she realizes the building has been taken over by an entity called the Hiss. Now she must take up the mantle of becoming the Director of the FBC in order to save the building while trying to figure out where her brother is at.
The story for the most part acts as a sci-fi thriller that beats you over the head with information while you’re trying to figure out what’s going on and how the world works. The Bureau itself is probably one of the biggest mysteries you have to figure out, like how it works, what types of secrets it holds and knowing exactly what the organization is trying to contain in order to protect humanity.
Throughout the story Jesse refers to “you” as Polaris, the entity inside of her head that was able to lead Jesse to the building where her brother was taken to. You can think of it as the player themselves being Polaris leading Jesse if you want. Jesse and Polaris have great chemistry together, even if you don’t ever hear or understand what Polaris is saying or doing, you can tell that Jesse really cares for her and you for that matter. It’s almost meta if you go down that route.
Other than talking to Polaris you can meet several of the members of the Bureau, such as Pope, the eccentric researcher who is willing to help you, and a mysterious Janitor named Ahti who guides you using cleaning supplies to show the way and gives you plenty of side missions. While these characters mostly just stay in their safe areas and just give you info when something happened in the Bureau, the interactions are pretty great.
As for the enemies you’ll face, they’re simply put, a mysterious force that has somehow gotten into the Bureau and is turning it into a world-bending, corrupted mess. The Hiss was able to corrupt many of the bureau members within the building and while it’s pretty hard to simply purify them, you’ll have to fight them off with your service weapon.
Graphics and Effects
The game looks amazing and feels very dreary. As you walk through the almost-abandoned halls and offices of the FBC, you’ll come across areas that look eerily like what an actual office building is like. Such as long winding hallways, abandoned science research rooms, and tons of unexplained supernatural entities called the Hiss that have distorted the building into a strange labyrinth.
With the added supernatural bonus that the Hiss brings with them, the building becomes a beacon for all sorts of graphical effects. While some rooms seem normal at first, it can only take a few steps for things to look strange, such as the presence of the Hiss within the floating bureau members and the seemingly random distortions in the air that indicates that the Hiss are still in the building.
Of course not everything visually is caused by the Hiss. The building’s architecture itself and the odd eccentricities it has is on its own visually impressive. For example, the Ashtray Maze constantly changes itself based on the person using it. You head will constantly turn in order to figure out where to move next and the transitions as walls appear and disappear look fantastic. Also the effects and spookiness the Motel and Casino has will always be unsettling when you’re trying to solve a puzzle there.
The gameplay is very fast and very fluid. When you first start the game is more of a standard third-person shooter where you’re exploring a large Office Tower. This is most of the game as you’ll explore and pick up collectables and talk to people in order to learn more about the Bureau, the Objects of Power, and how these things get contained. Think of it like a large Metroidvania with plenty of rooms to look through, many collectibles to find and many secrets waiting to come out of hiding.
While you can just shoot things with your Service Weapon as you go through the game and get more powers the combat can become more hectic allowing you to go all out with the powers and upgrades that you gain. When fully-upgraded Jesse will be able to float, take over enemies and transform her Service Weapon at will, usually using all of her abilities in order to not only survive many of the game’s situations but explore as well.
Do you see a hidden doorway from far away and mysteriously don’t have any way to get there? Well maybe you don’t have an ability or power yet to let you float across. Maybe a bit more exploring will take you to the other side?
Girl with the Gun
The Service Weapon you get starts off as a normal pistol called Grip. It shoots fine, handles well, and has rechargeable ammo with no need to reload. As you level up and gather the strange materials throughout the Oldest House, your gun can morph into several variations including a shotgun called “Shatter” and a machine pistol called “Spin.” While it’s one gun there are several variations for you to choose from, just make sure you bring the right weapons for the right situation as you can only equip two of the variations at a time.
Though later on in many of the game’s situations the game can become way too hectic. Do you know how fun it is to try to dodge three different homing rockets at the same time while a big guy with a minigun is shooting his grenade launcher at you? It requires a lot of dodging and using cover. Then the game brings big enemies that can flank you for tons of damage, well you have to launch something heavy to throw at them to get a good shot. Are there too many enemies on the floor? Then levitate yourself and shoot them from above. The game lets you do it all and more importantly die a ton in the process.
These fights can lead to some bad checkpoints setting you back at the last control point you were at, not outside of the room you died in. This can lead to some very unwanted backtracking forcing you to sprint past enemies you’ve fought and redoing a big battle all over again. This also applies to a few boss fights which force you to run through a gauntlet of enemies if you die, it’s just not fun.
Hard to Handle
Unfortunately, with all of the cool abilities and big battles you’ll face, the game has a caveat. While the game runs at a normal 30 FPS for the normal PS4 under normal and stable situations, when the game has many enemies with all of these effects or if you’re launching furniture at the Hiss, the game’s framerate drops almost halfway. This can get very distracting as launching in this game is one of your main means of attack when out of ammo and this happens a lot. It’s not like the game stops at a halt or anything, it’s just that the lowered framerate when fighting tons of enemies can be very distracting overall.
Control is a strange and mysterious game that lets you experience what it’s like to explore the SCP Foundation or the Men in Black building. It’s full of surprises and fights that will make you ask more questions the more you try to make sense of it. Even fighting the many Hiss at times can be fun and you feel that you gain a lot through fighting them. Unfortunately with the game’s mysterious story and with the creepy atmosphere it portrays to you, the game’s framerate on the base PS4 can take a very deep dive under stressful situations and can be distracting for the most part. Despite these setbacks however, I give Control an 8.
Control is a decent game with a pretty interesting story and setting. You pair this with how the game constantly attempts to break the fourth wall in an unsettling way and you got yourself a game that will keep you satisfied for a while trying to 100% it.