So, Remedy Entertainment has been around since 1995. And highly remembered for bringing noir misery guts Max Payne to the big bad world of games. The studio has also dabbled in other stuff such as Alan Wake which was just a “how many Stephen King mentions can we fit in” psychological horror game, and Quantum Break, which was just a cheap attempt at a TV series with some gameplay.
Now finally freed of Microsoft, Remedy is back again with Control.
Control is a 3rd person, Action Adventure which deals in the paranormal, Sci-Fi and that kind of stuff. And it follows Jesse Faden who at first just turns up at a dull as you like a government building which is void of all people but then after stumbling around it turns out the building aptly called The Oldest House is much like the Tardis in Doctor Who – Bigger on the Inside. This is run by the Federal Bureau of Control who dealing with the Paranormal and Altered World events.
After Jessie discovers the former Director has “resigned” and picks up the Service weapon (basically a gun, but called an Object of Power) and transported to one of the weirdest Job Interviews ever in a game where an inverted pyramid called “The Board” makes her the newest director of the FBC and tasks her in clearing out of the Hiss which have taken over the FBC (Which, for the record looks like jam.)
Before all that she and her brother who accidentally caused an AWE in their own hometown of Ordinary, USA via an object of power. Which caused the FBC to crack down and secure the OoP and seize her brother. Which at the same time caused an alien entity which is basically a fucking kaleidoscope to reside in Jessie’s mind which she named Polaris which helps her escaping and evading the FBC and guiding her to the front door of the FBC where she wanting to know about her brother.
With the basic framework of the plot mentioned and out of the way. The plot is flimsy yet intriguing and enjoyable. For the most part, Jessie for the most part is emotionally guarded which is perfectly understandable given her personal motives. When shit does get weird, she seems completely unfazed by it all which seems very oddly polarized given how freaky it can be where office workers are floating in the sky or even where she even gains the ability to fly. And that she is effectively thrown in the deep end, it just feels incredibly jarring.
The live-action stuff is a bit cheesy and weak even with talents like James McCaffrey and Matthew Porretta who voiced Max Payne and Alan Wake respectively. Matthew’s character has filmed his very own music video which you stumble upon later into the game which was a highlight to say at least. For the most part most of the world-building very much like BioShock. Piecing together the remnants of a world that’s been fucked over, but as previously mentioned, the plot is enjoyable but rather flimsy.
To the gameplay itself as said before it’s a 3rd person shooter but it seems more old school. That health isn’t regenerative which is infinitely more engaging than making out with a chest-high wall and wiping off a money shot by the Kool-Aid man before getting back in the fray. The service weapon is your main weapon in the game and as paranormal it has multiple forms: Pistol, Shotgun, Machine Gun and so on. All of the weapons are all bland to use. Whereas the supernatural abilities like Telekinesis are much more entertaining. Frankly if you personally are not entertained by the motion of chucking a forklift at some twat’s head in video games. Then I question your humanity.
Other abilities include: a shield which says it on the tin, and you can throwback if it’s upgraded. Seize, which you can turn bad guys to your side. Others like levitate and evade which is your dodge and flying abilities. Which other than the basic stuff, the throwing of forklifts and turn coating the bad guys are the main powers that I used in-game. My main issue is if you focus more on the throwing upgrades, it can get quite overpowered.
Also, one aspect to praise is that there have been attempts to step way from incredibly linear level gameplay and jump from that to a more Metroidvania format which the world can be explored very nonlinear. It does open the game up to side content. Which for the most part is to get your supernatural powers which are important, but the rest is more mindless filler but still nice to see that they’ve done more than just the main plot. If you’re one of those dorks that love collecting collectables like some paranoid hoarder then there are a shed load of audio logs and documents to collect.
There is a perk system whereas your playing along completing side missions and coming out alive in skirmishes you can collect perks which you can give buffs for your guns or yourself which can be helpful but when you’ve got the ones that fit your style it becomes more admin work removing pointless perks so you could collect the ones that can replace the ones you’re using now.
And also one complaint is in the random loot drop as for upgrading your guns. You’re going to need other items which aren’t particularly easy to get hold of. Which is a little unfair and could have had an in-game store where the safe points are with a limited amount which could have balanced it out. One major one is the checkpoint system which Is a bit unforgiving as Control Points are effectively your checkpoints. So, if you do get a bit cocky like I did one time and skipped past one or two Control Points and running out of luck. It will only take you back to the last Control Point.
How it comes together however aside from the issues is a fairly enjoyable experience. Differently challenging enemies, fun “old school” combat. And the ability to chuck a Forklift at some fuckers head never gets boring. As like in Deus Ex where you can throw a fridge, but does have its foibles
On a technical level however as I played on the Xbox it wasn’t particularly brilliant. Framerate dropped like a stone as the action heated up, and the draw distance is crap beyond belief. I thought we left those days behind in the PS1 era. I mean how hard can it be to render in some low res boxes which are on the other side a warehouse instead when I get closer the game decided to draw them in – just for the sake of immersion, it’s not difficult.
There is some extra content on the way as well, which could further expand upon this which could be worthwhile but the game for me hasn’t done enough to come back by the time those are released. The art style is pretty neat and I do like the more psychological game design choices like seeing the world distorted by the Hiss. Or more embarrassingly getting stuck on a maze that makes you loop around which I did for 15 mins, until I figured out I needed to find someone to help me get through it.
In short: Control is a decent fun game with an interesting plot and enjoyable gameplay. I liked it more than Quantum Break which did two thrusts and just fell asleep afterwards. Although it has problems like its Checkpoints and gameplay which can get rather unbalanced when you’ve fully upgraded Telekinesis and chucking forklift at every passing motherfucker. And technically put together that would make British Layland look competent and reliable. Personally wouldn’t recommend it now but once that extra content is out there then I would get on it – mainly for the forklifts.
Control is a decent fun game with an interesting plot and enjoyable gameplay. It has problems like its Checkpoints and gameplay which can get rather unbalanced when you’ve fully upgraded Telekinesis and chucking forklift at every passing motherfucker. Technically not very good at all which a framerate that chugs and a piss-poor draw distance.
- Engaging plot
- Throwing forklifts at people
- Psychedelic art style
- Flimsy plot elements like live-action videos
- Unbalanced gameplay
- Technically not good