A director’s job is never done. In the first expansion DLC: The Foundation, it aims to explore the depths of The Oldest House with the Bureau’s newest Director, Jesse Faden. CONTROL blew me away last year, and became my Game of the Year for 2019; which set high expectations for the expansions to follow, and The Foundation does not disappoint. Remedy’s weird, occult narrative-driven shooter is still very much present and accounted for here. It falls short in a few areas, but continues investing in and inventing bizarre problems for Jesse to solve. CONTROL – The Foundation in a lot of ways feels like the second season of a television show: some of the mystery is gone, but you know the characters, and now there’s a rhythm to it that keeps you interested.
In order to play The Foundation, it’s required that you complete the main story of CONTROL. Once you reload your save, you receive a new mission that takes you to a new sector of the same name. The Foundation feels like a main mission, and a bit of a reset for the cataclysmic events of the base game. It takes a bit of a step back in terms of the threat level, but the seriousness remains. A lot’s at stake still, and so time is of the essence to get things corrected.
You’ll quickly be introduced to the Nail, which is located at the literal foundation of the Bureau. Without giving too much away, you’ll find that this expansion creates a new way to explore the unseen, forgotten parts of the Bureau without feeling tacked on. The main thread of this DLC will task you with reconstructing four parts of the nail to restore it, to prevent further collapse and bleed. In that very Remedy way, they make each of these tasks distinct from one another. You’re never repeating the same task within this expansion, or from the main game, something it could’ve done if it weren’t CONTROL.
Shape is the new power given to Jesse, which takes on two forms: one of which gets placed into your gun and the other like a traditional ability. You get a choice which one you get first, so in my game I chose being able to destroy the new rock formations you find at the Foundation. Later I received the ability to create these rock formations at specific points. The latter is used as a traversal device, as well as a combat item. It will be interesting how this can be used for the next expansion, or if it’s just a gimmick power you’ll only use here.
The game splendidly splits evenly between combat and puzzles that prevent either from becoming overwhelming. The new melee focused, rock armored hiss will force you to hover in the air longer, or seek higher ground. Then the puzzles offer a break to that action. Traversal in general is accommodating, taking into account you haven’t leveled any one thing up, offering multiple routes or passages.
I didn’t think this DLC would have it, but the game has another defining “musical moment”, one I won’t and can’t spoil. It absolutely makes the entire expansion. I happened to encounter it as the third thing I went after, and it just was such a delight. It’s a tough encounter, and requires quick reflexes and a great understanding of your powers. It’s entirely possible to walk away from this discouraged because of it. But once you nail the sequence, it’s the highlight of the whole thing.
Where The Foundation doesn’t quite nail it, is in the collectibles. There’s more lore to read and hear, but there’s sadly no new Dr. Darling videos to watch. He was such an interesting character watch evolve (or in some cases devolve), but his lack of presence is felt here. I did find the lip syncing to be especially noticeable here, as if it received the least amount of care throughout. Aside from that, CONTROL maintains the general level of unease throughout its quieter moments as you explore this new area of the Bureau.
Remedy takes a step back with the odd happenings in the Bureau, and while the place is in dire straights, it doesn’t overwhelm you with that feeling because Jesse is so powerful now. Over the course of four hours, The Foundation solves its own mysteries in a satisfying way, while leaving the door open for what’s to come in Expansion 2. It also never spends too long on any one thing, and it feels like you’re repairing something over time. CONTROL – The Foundation maintains momentum from the main story without ever slowing down.
An Epic Games Store code was provided by the publisher for review purposes