Remedy has always crafted excellent story driven experiences that excel at providing thrilling moments filled with cinematic flair. Their games have always felt rather linear though, yet filled with fantastic action thats become a staple of their titles. Yet, I always thought it would do them well to add some variety and interesting level design to give them just a bit more depth. Does Control take the prior expertise they had and innovate past that? That would be a resounding yes. Control is some of Remedy’s best work to date.
Players take on the role of Jesse Faden, a woman who has been looking for her brother for years after they were separated. This has finally led her to the Federal Bureau of Control or FBC for short. She soon discovers that some sort of paranormal force has overtaken the building and she slowly tries to take back control of the situation. She is now deemed the Director of the building and has to find a way to stop the Hiss (an evil entity that’s taken over the building), save her employees, and her brother in the process. What works so well for the plot is just how mysterious and unexplained things start off. Like a good book, the revelations throughout the game and within videos and documents slowly start to unravel more of what’s occurring. The main plot is delivered through the use of cutscenes, but reading the extra notes and details really fleshes out the world they crafted for the story. The more things players read up on, videos found, side quests completed, the more things start to make more sense. Putting together exactly what the FBC is, what they do, and just how quite possible all of Remedy’s games could be in the same universe was mind blowing to think about.
While a great story can be enough to entice anyone into finishing a game, the gameplay has to feel satisfying and Remedy nails it here. They have been crafting third person shooters for years and they have truly refined their craft. Jesse only has one gun, but it’s shapeshifting to include changing the type of ammo it uses. Starting off, the gun is used as a simple pistol, but as players progress, it can be crafted to other types, like an automatic or shotgun like weapon. These can be crafted with materials at control points. These points serve as fast travel spots, checkpoints, healing locations, and upgrade areas. Here players can unlock further upgrades and mods to the weapon and Jesse. She isn’t just armed with guns though, she also has other powers she earns throughout the campaign. For example she can throw a multitude of items in the environment with telekinesis powers or eventually learn to levitate and float. All these are used in unison to craft an action experience that is both thrilling and exciting, if not a bit chaotic at times. Control simply plays fantastic though and throwing around furniture while debris goes flying is cathartic every single time. While playing primarily with a controller on PC, I also was impressed by the keyboard and mouse setting. They felt comfortable enough for the action, even if I stumbled with using my powers at times. My preference for games is usually a controller and feel that it’s definitely more suited for Control and my play style.
The game is no slouch in the visual department either. Quite a looker at times even if at first glance it would appear a bit mundane. The majority of this game does take place in an office like environment, which could feel sterile and lifeless. Luckily there is plenty to love about the building and looking at throughout its odd transformations and shifting dimension. Lots of great use of color come to mind, especially red to signify “The Hiss”. Environments are detailed and full of destruction that feels extremely satisfying to see. Even on the lowest settings, the graphic design and art shines through even if it’s just an “office building”. The walls sometimes come alive as it morphs and twists into other areas. Others leads strange, ethereal like spots. Talking about this further would be a disservice so I’ll stop, but players really need to experience and see how fantastic some of these moments are. This is one of those games where there is so much I’d love to talk about but feel like I shouldn’t because the less players know about Control going in, the better the experience and surprise.
While Remedy has always been about crafting third person shooters, they have mostly stayed to linear experiences. Control follows a similar pattern, but with a few cool twists. There is a main story, but now there are side quests to tackle and challenges to complete. Doing some of these will reward players with ability mods or even more story beats. These are highly recommended as the game has a flow similar to the way some Metroid-vania titles have. Where abilities and items unlocked later and will take Jesse to new places she couldn’t explore previously or provide shortcuts. There are also some puzzles to complete and minor platforming which took me completely by surprise. This just shows that Remedy is truly trying to increase the level of variety in their games and grow as a developer. That’s not to say their other games are not carefully crafted, but this one def shows a bigger side of them than ever before in game design.
As far as the PC experience goes, I’m running on a top of the line rig that I built back in 2012 and upgraded my PC card about a year later. I’m seeing mostly solid performance on medium settings. There is some slight stuttering during loading moments and the framerate can take a dive when lots of enemies appear on screen but even still, it’s been nothing to destroy my experience playing the game or hamper. I can see folks with PCs from the last few years having no issues with running Control. I did happen to notice a slight ghosting effect sometimes from the main character, but that might be more of an engine issue and without other rigs to test, I’m not sure. It could potentially just be a lower resolution or anti aliasing affect.
Control is a game I wasn’t quite sure about before playing it. I knew it was a Remedy game and something I had to play. After my somewhat tepid reception to Quantum Break, this feels like a return to Remedy that I love. Maybe due to the odd, mysterious, and creepy presentation to it all? The world building? Perhaps all the implications that are made about the FBC and the world around us? One thing is certain, I was totally captivated by my play through. While Alan Wake is still my favorite Remedy game to date, I can’t deny Control has a better game design overall and my second favorite title from the developers now. There could be some better variation in areas due to the nature of the story, and some of the challenges and mods seem almost unneeded. When deconstructing those mods it becomes a cumbersome experience doing so one at a time as well. Otherwise this is one game I would highly recommend.
Fans of single player games who love shows like X-files, Twin Peaks, and the sort,this is a must play. It’s refreshing to get a superbly crafted, story driven game, with no multiplayer and no micro transactions in today’s market. Fans of the genre need to have Control in their sights and I truly hope Remedy has a bonafide success on their hands. Control is one of the weirdest, fascinating, and most intriguing games I’ve ever played, a wild ride for sure. I’ll be there for the future DLC and a sequel if one ever comes.
A pre-release Epic Games Store code was provided by the publisher for review purposes