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Control Review – Supernatural Supremacy

After completing Quantum Break a little over three years ago, I was left with a lot of curiosity over what Remedy Entertainment’s next game would be. With Sam Lake stating on multiple occasions that Alan Wake 2 would come when the time is right, I knew that this highly coveted sequel most likely wasn’t going to be their next project.

Enter Sony’s E3 2018 press conference where we got an official reveal trailer of Control, a supernatural third-person action-adventure game. After taking nearly 20 hours to complete my first playthrough, I now feel confident in saying that Control is another high caliber offering from Remedy Entertainment that will have you hooked from start to finish. Here are more of my thoughts on why this gripping title should absolutely be on your radar right now.

Control tells the story of newly appointed Federal Bureau of Control Director Jesse Faden voiced by Courtney Hope. Shortly after arriving at the mysterious headquarters with a personal agenda to address, Jesse finds the place under attack by a corrupt force called The Hiss and chooses to pick up a unique Service Weapon placed alongside the dead body of the previous Director Zachariah Trench. In choosing to wield this object of power, she is granted supernatural abilities and automatically appointed the new Director. Jesse’s new mission now is to restore order to the Bureau aka the Oldest House by defeating the Hiss and uncovering all of the secrets that lie within.

From a narrative standpoint, Control is very much perceived as a narrowly focused thrilling mystery title complete with Remedy’s signature style of explorative alternative dimensions. The talented writing team of Sam Lake, Anna Megill, Clay Murphy, and Brooke Maggs have created a story full of twists and turns guaranteed to keep players on the edge of their seats. Not only is Jesse’s backstory and personal motivations explored but several of the supportive cast members’ agendas will also be called into question as the truth is slowly revealed from one chapter to the next. This gripping story is something you need to experience firsthand in order to truly appreciate.

Abhi the Janitor is one of many mysterious characters that you’ll come across as the story unfolds.

The world of Control was built entirely from the ground up with the use of the Northlight storytelling engine. This same proprietary engine was previously used on Quantum Break and looks more polished and refined than ever before. The level of detail in character models, cutscenes, action-packed gameplay sequences, live-action video presentations and various environments across the entire universe are nothing short of breathtaking and designed primarily to keep your undivided attention throughout.

Control offers one of the most satisfying action-adventure gameplay experiences that I’ve had so far this summer. While the heart of the game revolves around exploring the secretive nature of the Bureau, Jesse’s evolution as a badass protagonist is equally exciting to watch too. By combining supernatural abilities with gunplay, Remedy has found a sweet spot that essentially gives players the freedom to choose how to takedown every adversary that they encounter whether it be Hiss controlled former Bureau agents or imposing creatures hidden beneath objects of power. Here are some brief descriptions of the abilities that you’ll acquire within the game by completing certain obstacles and missions.

  • Melee – Deliver a telekinetic blow.
  • Launch – Pick up objects and throw them at enemies.
  • Evade – Shift quickly to avoid incoming attacks.
  • Shield – Shield yourself with debris and nearby objects as protection.
  • Seize – Control enemies allegiance for a short time.
  • Levitate – Hover above enemies and gain a tactical advantage in combat.

In addition to everything described above, its worth mentioning that the Service Weapon can take on five different forms and be modded to your heart’s content based on materials that you acquire throughout your playthrough. The weapon regenerates ammunition automatically and health randomly drops from enemy bodies after you eliminate them.

Combat is both slick and addictively satisfying from start to finish.

After clearing enemies from certain locations, you’ll be able to access and cleanse control points. These are ideal places for not only upgrading your abilities but they can also allow you to fast travel to another sector of the building. Control is a game that requires you to backtrack to certain areas after gaining security clearance to another portion of the building. Therefore, it was a smart decision to include these accessible options to help players get around faster. Rounding out the final details of gameplay, there are several puzzles included throughout the story to answer lingering questions and switch up the experience. These puzzles require you to pay very close attention to your surroundings and provide nice temporary breaks from the action.

The musical score, sound effects, and top-notch voice acting throughout Control will keep you fully immersed from beginning to end. Composers Martin Stig Andersen and Petri Alanko have put together a beautifully crafted soundtrack that matches the high-quality visuals and gameplay quality that we have come to expect from Remedy developed games. Sound is another important building block to making a successful film, TV show or video game and it’s great to see that they have mastered this ability once again.

Exploring the many secrets hidden within the Bureau will keep you on the edge of your seat.

As I mentioned above, Control took me roughly 20 hours to complete and your own playthrough time may vary depending on how you decide to approach both the story and side missions. Remedy set out to make a Metroidvania inspired gameplay experience meaning that you’ll be able to unlock and level up new abilities by completing side missions and discovering new objects of power in previously unexplored areas of the Oldest House. The studio is also working on more content that will be released later this year and well into 2020. This strategic approach gives Control a solid replayability value for fans who enjoyed what the core game had to offer and want to acquire every collectible and trophy available while exploring every single part of the world.

With so many positives already stated about Control, there are at least two criticisms that I have about the game. First and foremost, it’s worth noting that I experienced some performance issues while playing on the base PS4 model. An impromptu crash and frame rate drops during some intense multiple enemy encounters were slightly annoying but didn’t completely hinder my overall experience. I do expect a patch update to be released which will eliminate most of these issues for console owners. If you do plan on getting this game on PC then chances are that won’t encounter any of these problems as this title feels like it was built to run on a high-end device.

Control is the type of game that looks spectacular on all platforms but will probably perform best on PC.

The other nitpicky complaint I have about the game lies within just how repetitive some of the enemy encounters can get as you progress deeper into the campaign. Even after cleansing a control point and exploring certain areas, newer enemies can continue to respawn in those same spots and in certain circumstances you’ll have to eliminate them all before moving on to your desired destination. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it reminds players of the ongoing threat of the Hiss but it definitely may also start to get tiresome for some after playing for extended periods of time.

Despite these criticisms, nothing changes the fact that I had an absolute blast with this game. Control is simply amazing and another successful milestone for Remedy Entertainment. If you enjoyed Quantum Break, then you owe it to yourself to play this game as soon as humanly possible. Feel free to check out some additional screenshots of the game included below.

This review was written based on a digital review copy of Control for the PlayStation 4 provided by 505 Games.

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