From Alan Wake to Quantum Break, Remedy has been responsible for quite the profound experiences as of late. Control is the latest in their portfolio, and while it does suffer from some polish issues, it just might be the signature game of the studio.
What Is It?
Control takes place at the Oldest House, the headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Control (FBC), a place seemingly tasked with the unenviable task of the study of the supernatural. You play as Jesse Faden, the new director of the FBC who ends up having quite the agenda at the bureau. We don’t want to delve too far into the plot because it’s quite the story, but the main thing you should know is her story and goals unfold as you progress through the game, and as stated earlier, Remedy makes its money with profound experiences so it shouldn’t surprise anyone when they find that things get really weird at the FBC.
Why Should I Care?
Like Quantum Break before it, what takes front and center is Control’s combat gameplay. Not only do you have your typical cover-shooting mechanics, Jesse will eventually have the ability to telekinetically throw objects in the environment at enemies, use them for additional cover, quick dash to certain places, and she’ll even have the ability to float in the air for short periods of time.
It’s a process though. At first all you have is a sidearm, but to make things more approachable, you don’t have to worry about your bullets. Of course, there’s a catch to that. While there aren’t any physical bullets to collect, you can only fire so many shots at a time before the shot meter takes time to fill up again.
When you eventually do get your powers, you have the same sort of limits with another meter. As you progress, you’ll gain consumables that you can use to upgrade all your stats, and the true beauty of it is you really feel like you’re becoming like more of a force in the game which is totally necessary because the waves of enemies in the game are plentiful, sometimes too plentiful.
You’ll come across standard enemies with guns, ones with aura shields that you can only break by using melee attacks or using your powers, and those that also fly. At its zenith, the game throws a complex mix of enemies at you to the point where it also becomes cheap. There were a whole bunch of times at the literal end of the game that I threw my controller in frustration due to how annoying it was to deal with flying enemies, finding cover, using your shield, and avoiding enemies that explode. While it’s great that the game forces you to use everything you have in your arsenal, these enemy waves made the pacing horribly inconsistent and it really bogged the game down. In fact, there are a bunch of things that tarnish what’s honestly a fantastic experience.
In addition to the combat, what separates Control from most games like it is its focus on exploration. Most modern games have a waypoint to lead you from point A to point B—not Control. You’ll find yourself looking at the map a lot… when it works. There were multiple occasions where I tried to open the map and saw absolutely nothing. The places I’ve been to were marked and named, but the map asset was totally gone. This demonstrates a severe lack of polish which was apparently made better this week, but this is stuff that shouldn’t be happening especially when playing on a PS4 Pro or Xbox One.
In fact, there was another difficult point in the game where a Control Point, which serves as a safe/save point, didn’t show up where it was supposed to be, and I had to restart the game twice. As much as this sucks, I honestly wouldn’t find this a big deal just based on what Remedy has shipped in the past, but because the load times in between deaths and restarts are so long, again, it muddled the experience.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
What makes the Control’s mishaps so frustrating is the fact that the game is absolutely terrific. Sure, I hardly understand the story and there really isn’t much enjoyment in exploring a federal bureau of any sort, but the game is just a joy to play (when you’re actually playing it) especially when you end up in the strangeness that is the Astral Plane, an outer dimension that’s possessed a lot of commonplace items on earth.
It’s worth noting that the latest patch released this week solves a lot of problems, but it really shouldn’t be this late in its release window. Either way, this is a game that was hard to stay away from as I was playing it, and with the recent DLC announcements, I definitely see myself coming back to it.
Control is a game that’ll definitely test your patience, but once you get by them, you have another profound Remedy title that’s unlike anything else.