It’s the one year anniversary (to the exact date) for CONTROL. And the release of the final expansion, AWE is the perfect way to close the book on this incredible game, with the help from Alan Wake. With all due respect to The Foundation, the first expansion for the game, the anticipation for this second expansion has had people guessing and hypothesizing for months on end now. After all the hints, the references, and sometimes overt mentions, it’s time to see what the connection CONTROL has to Remedy’s own 2010 game, Alan Wake. AWE gives new insight into what has happened to Alan Wake after all this time, and gives new mysteries to uncover. The Remedy Connected Universe is unfolding before us, and it’s already AWEsome.
Whether you determine AWE to be Altered World Events (in the context of CONTROL), or the Alan Wake Expansion, know that both are right as far as I’m concerned. Jesse Faden, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Control (FBC) has done a lot of work in a short amount of time. And like the ticking of the clock, there’s more for her to do. A new part of the bureau has emerged, the Investigations Sector is now available for first time in years, where it lied dormant and unused. It’s a bit contrived that yet another part of The Oldest House is now accessible, but this house certainly has its secrets.
Alan Wake has somehow gotten into the hotline, and indirectly reached out to Jesse Faden. He’s been missing for ten years, both in the game’s world and ours. Names like Thomas Zane and Emil Hartman come up often here, and they’re woven deep into this campaign. The Firebreak to the Investigations Sector is sealed, and even part of it is destroyed, but after doing some careful maneuvering, it’s time to answer the call. The Hiss have made their way in before you, and they’re a bit… different, darker. As a result, Jesse must now learn to stay in the light.
While it still plays like CONTROL, there’s a bit of Alan Wake-style gameplay in here. You’ll be using your powers to grab light sources, mainly construction lamps to illuminate pitch black hallways and burn away the darkness like what consumed the town of Bright Falls. These are small puzzles to overcome, but are reminiscent of that gameplay we were so fond of in 2010. If Jesse is in the presence of overwhelming darkness, her powers are worn down to nothing, and she’s powerless to defend herself or take action. But it’s restored once you power a light on. It’s a clever twist on the light and dark mechanics found Alan Wake.
You get a new weapon in AWE, and that’s Surge. It’s a sticky grenade launcher with some slight homing capabilities. It fires a maximum of three grenades and will stick to any surface. You can fire and detonate individually, or stack all three. Once all three have been fired, you must wait for it to recharge. So I often employed the tactic of only ever firing off two grenades at a time, and kept the last one in reserves so I wasn’t without ammo. There’s also a new enemy to engage with, or rather, a twist on an existing one. The Hiss Airborne Ranger is out to make your life a living hell with their armored, shielded selves. While you could call the darkness an enemy, it’s rather inert when on objects, and you’re able to burn it away with your light source. You won’t find any Taken to content with here.
It’s worth noting that the powers you gained during The Foundation don’t have a role here. It accounts for the fact you might play this in a different order, and allows them to be standalone from one another.
AWE offers a large, entirely new place to explore. As you work your way through it, you’ll encounter the dark presence that’s consuming the sector, and it’s an expansion long cat-and-mouse game with this veiled figure who’s out to kill. Since you never know when or how they’ll show up, there’s tension all throughout each venture into a new room. This is coupled with the fact that a majority of the lights don’t work in most areas. It’s several hours of build-up to the final boss fight that works well.
It took me a little over three hours to complete all the main missions that AWE had to offer. Add an additional two hours for all the side mission content which is short and sweet. I was able to exhaust all the content in about five hours. None of it felt short or rushed, as it all felt well-paced and reached its natural conclusion.
There are arcade machines that are altered items that allow Jesse to play a Deadline, a time trial where you have to defeat fifty enemies without the timer expiring, or Crowd Control, a horde mode where you must kill a set number of enemies from the entire game. There’s another arcade machine that unlocks upon completion of one of these new modes that gives you access to a boss rush mode called Feedback Loop, and the ability to replay side-mission boss fights, like the fantastic ‘Ashtray Maze’. These are welcome, and great additions offering exceptional challenge. There’s even a new outfit in it for completing the higher difficulty versions for you, too.
While not part of the AWE expansion, there is a free update that’ll be available for all players, regardless of the DLC owned. Most importantly, there’s a new power of Multi-Launch. This’ll let you launch and hold three items in the air at once. So you could hold a trash can, a chair, and a light and throw them together or one at a time. Or you can go really wild, for those who are afraid of the dark like Alice Wake, and launch three lights to illuminate their way around the new sector. There’s lots of other quality of life improvements in the free update that’ll smooth out any rough edges in regards to combat.
CONTROL‘s second and final expansion raises more questions than it answers. AWE is a great on its own, I just wish there was more to it. It feels like it’s going to do bigger things with this crossover, then doesn’t. So I feel like Remedy set expectations a bit too high with this one. AWE is still incredibly well written, has great main and side stories, and the unique gameplay changes things up in clever ways. With the Remedy Connected Universe in motion, things are now falling into place, and AWE gives a glimpse into the future of Remedy’s games and universe at-play that we’ve never seen done before. After all, it’s not a lake… it’s an ocean.
An Epic Games Store code was provided by the publisher for review purposes