• Developer: Remedy Entertainment
  • Publisher: 505 Games
  • ReleasDate: August 27th, 2019
  • Price: $59.99

When Control was first revealed back at E3 2018, I knew this was exactly the kind of game that I was looking for. The initial trailer had all of the elements that spoke to me. Interesting environment and atmosphere coupled with fast, frenetic gameplay all wrapped around this sense of mystery that you simply do not get enough of in current big budget titles. I’m happy to report that having now finished the game, it delivers fully on it’s initial vision and has easily become one of strangest yet most fun experiences that you can have in 2019.

You play as Jesse Faden, a woman who has made her way into this secretive government building with one task in mind, to find out what happened to her lost brother. What happens after this setup is a string of bizarre and fantastical events that will have you scratching your head more often than not but still managing to captivate you in this world that developer Remedy has masterfully created.

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Gameplay in Control is pretty straightforward. This is a third-person action game in a Metroidvania style structured environment. You’ll explore and discover new abilities during your time spent in the FBC building. Certain areas require certain abilities to be able to access so it’s always fun to discover something new and it keeps the gameplay loop consistent.

Gunplay in Control is smooth and very responsive and it reminds me of playing a third-person Doom, if I can use that as an example. The emphasis is not on staying in cover but to always keep your momentum and stay mobile during your encounters. You can use your environment to not only protect yourself when needed but to literally use it as a weapon. Being able to lift an object with telekinesis and fling it at your enemies has never been more satisfying. Part of what makes it feel so good is the culmination of incredible animation, sound design and destructible environments. Everything in Control can be destroyed and it instills this wonderful sense of chaos in an otherwise mysterious and quiet place.

From a visual standpoint Control has this very unique artistic style to it. There are lots of dark tones that are accentuated not only with the architecture of the FBC but the blood reds that fill it when the Hiss arrive on the scene. The Hiss are the antagonists of Control. They are an entity that have invaded the FBC and have infected not only the agents of the Bureau but the building itself. I mention them under visuals because it is the Hiss that influence how the environments change visually and structurally. Infected areas of the FBC building will be flushed in red and are distorted in these abstract shapes and it only when you “cleanse” those areas that they return to their normal state. It deepens the connection between player and setting with the setting becoming a character in itself.

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One of the other wonderful aspects about Control is that there is a terrific amount of content here to sink your teeth into. Beside the main story arc there are multiple side activities including special timed ones. Completion of any of these will net you great rewards to help you craft better versions of your service weapon as well as upgrades to your own health and energy. Besides side activities there are also side missions that are more narrative driven and allow for more backstory to be explored amongst the many characters that you interact with. These are not your typical throwaway fetch quests but quests that actually culminate sometimes in a large boss battles all while exposing the player to a deeper context.

With all the good about Control there are a few complaints I have. I was not too crazy about the checkpoint system that was implemented. I found it at times very frustrating where you would explore at length in a new area but then get killed by an enemy only to respawn all the way back to the original control point you started at. Having to travel all the way back to where you were originally killed would certainly be a drag but I wouldn’t consider it a deal breaker. Another slight annoyance would be trying to explore at a certain pace to then have random waves of enemies spawn over and over. I get why it is there yet at the same time wish it was toned down a bit. On a technical side I did experienced quite a bit of framerate drops as well as occasional freezes which was a bummer but did not completely ruin the experience at the end of the day.

After the credits started rolling I sat back and felt this emotion I couldn’t really explain. The only thing I knew for sure was that Control was one of the most unique and strangest experiences I’ve had in recent memory. Its storytelling as well as its gameplay design have certainly left an imprint on my brain and I consider it to be one of the best games that you can play this year.

Control was played and reviewed on a PS4 Pro.

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