Control Review

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Posted September 23, 2019 by Kyle Simcox in Video Games

Control places you in the role of Jesse Faden, a young women in search of her brother who was taken by the Federal Bureau of Control when she was young. With the help of a mysterious entity, Jesse finds the what is known as “the Oldest House”, the headquarters of the FBC and ends up becoming the Director of the whole thing when she stumbles across the previous directors corpse and takes up his sentient pistol the FBC simply calls the “Service Weapon”. What follows is a wild ride through weird as Jesse takes on an alien entity known as the “Hiss” who possess the bodies of those without special protection as they try to break out of the FBC and invade the rest of Earth. Control’s story is wild and weird and any fan of Alan Wake will probably feel right at home.

Just like any Remedy game, Control offers you that same fun, familiar third person gameplay you’re used to. Jesse finds herself in an unfamiliar and unsettling situation so she picks up a firearm and starts blasting away with little explanation. Along her journey she picks up bad ass new abilities like telekinesis and flight. While the powers are pretty basic, they feel wonderful to use and the Service Weapon is a cool weapon that can change forms on the fly. You can earn skill points to improve Jesse’s abilities and collect materials to craft new weapon forms. For instance, Jesse’s grab ability can be upgraded to catch rockets or even pick up and throw enemies. You can really combine Jesse’s arsenal in really chaotic ways. Nailing a shielded enemy with an explosive canister and then finishing him off a hail of hot sentient lead from the Service Weapon’s “Spin” form feels awesome. That being said, nothing feels better than grabbing an item, watching an enemy walk in front of it as it’s coming to you and then getting killed by it as it collides with the back of their head. That’s just hilarious.

One thing that separates Control from Remedy’s previous titles though is it’s Metroidvania approach to exploration. The Federal Bureau of Control is huge and filled with a ton of secrets, collectibles and side quests to do that’ll have you discovering just what exactly the FBC was doing in their massive shifting labyrinth. Navigating the FBC is a bit confusing and the in-game map doesn’t do much to help outside of giving you your general location with a room. As you explore though, you’ll find plenty of Control Points that Jesse can cleanse and use to craft items, allocate skill points and most importantly, fast travel to other cleansed Control Points and that really helps traversing the game a lot more enjoyable. The downside to the Control Points however is that they act as your checkpoints so if you die, have fun going back to your last control point and then walking all the way back to where you died.

For being a game that takes place in a government building, Control’s environments look great and shifting walls of the FBC are really cool. There’s a really nice use of the color red to indicate where the Hiss are en mass. My favorite little detail is the way the Hiss bleed when hit. The Hiss are an invisible resonance based extra-dimensional being and when you hit an enemy possessed by them, the Hiss leak out into the air momentarily creating a psychedelic looking fog that slowly dissipates as the smoke clears. Character models are probably the graphics weakest point as some characters like Jesse(modeled after the actress Courtney Hope) look great while others look like a bowl of mashed potatoes. Performance is a problem for Control as well however. I played on the PS4 Pro and ran into odd framerate stutters, even when the action on screen was minimal. Some times, simply turning the camera in an empty corridor would lead to a drop and exiting the pause screen still has issues even after Remedy’s post launch patch.

The Audio is on point as the gunfire mixed with the sound of Jesse’s abilities mix together really well. Voice acting is also top notch but Jesse does a lot of monologuing so there’s occasionally a problem with too much exposition. In regards to the Hiss however, their presence can always be felt as you roam the halls of the Oldest House and the sound of the Hiss chanting ring throughout the building even when you’re not in heavily infested areas. It’s never too creepy like you’d expect from the horror genre for example but it does create an incredibly weird atmosphere and you can never be quite sure when the Hiss are going to attack.

One minor complaint I do want to make before we finish is the lack of a weapon wheel for the Service Weapon really feels like a missed opportunity. It’s a gun that shifts forms at will so only being able to equip two forms feels like an odd choice. Overall though, I really enjoy Control and I am simply not a fan of Remedy’s previous works. Despite it’s performance issues, it still manages to be a fun game with a wild and weird setting. Fighting the Hiss within the ever shifting halls of the Oldest House always feels fun and frantic. If Remedy can fix the performance issues then Control can definitely be one of their strongest titles.

WeTheNerdy gives Control 8 Hiss out of 10.

Pros:
Great mix of gunplay and superpowers.
Superbly weird and fun setting.
Fun world to explore.
Plenty of quests, collectibles and hidden secrets.

Cons:
Performance issues.
Some lazy character models.


About the Author

Kyle Simcox