Control shows Remedy are back with a new I.P. after the success of both Alan Wake and American Nightmare, followed by Quantum Break, in recent years.
This time round they have brought us another story-rich single-player experience, which is exclusive to the EPIC Store on PC but also available on both Xbox One and PS4 (Alan Wake & Quantum Break initially being Xbox only titles when released).
The story sees main character Jesse arriving at the Federal Bureau of Control looking for her brother Dylan. When you start, you will be working your way through what can best be described as a typical government building, but it appears to be abandoned and locked down. You eventually find the Director, but he’s shot himself in the head. Jesse has a voice guiding her giving information, but this isn’t just narrative, it’s something attached to her which you cannot see. Of course, at this point, Jesse picks up the gun and you end up going through a brief tutorial in an astral plane on how to use said item.
From this point on, when you meet NPCs, you are now known as the new Director of the FBC and it is your job, initially, to restore some order by capturing points which become fast travel and upgrade stations and disable the lock-down.
The gameplay on Control essentially is a fully immersive third-person action game with light RPG elements, and it does have Metroid overtones when it comes to exploration (as in Metroidvania). As you search about the complex, you will find Objects of Power which give Jesse new abilities. First one to be found is a floppy disc (8″ floppy disc – to be precise – which were used in late ’70s), and this object gives you the ability to throw other objects. When I say throw, I don’t mean in the usual sense of pick something up and throw it, since with Control, you have supernatural abilities so you will grab something and throw it without even touching it. This is great during combat, as it staggers or knocks over enemies and takes a huge chunk of their health, so it only one or two shots to finish them off with your firearm. There is also a shield, and an evade ability which you find by exploring areas that have yellow question marks in them.
You only get one weapon in the game but the further you get into the game, the weapon can take different forms, the initial one being a single shot pistol. Next up, however, once you have enough components to upgrade it, you unlock a machine pistol, and then you can switch easily between type on-the-fly. It is pretty cool way of incorporating more firepower without the need of numerous different weapons. There are also a few other forms you will unlock as you progress.
Whilst moving round the complex, you go from area to area, taking out the numerous humanoid enemies and, occasionally, tentacled creatures which come from – for want of better words – rifts, that are usually blocking where you need to go. I must admit, the enemies tend to be the same and become really strong really quickly. After a few hours play, and doing a few upgrades to health including adding mods to both gun and character, they can still take you out with one or two shots. At times, they will literally appear behind you mid-fight. Hence, with no on-screen map with enemy blips, you will occasionally die, wondering from where you have been shot.
On top of running about the complex, and taking out the various enemies, there are puzzles to be solved. This can be as simple as throwing a power brick into a connector, or on an occasion trapping a blob-type creature in a small area to give you access to another area. These sorts of puzzles are quite self-explanatory in terms of what you need to do. However, there are some that require more thought, such as the punch cards where you have to cross-reference white boards and put them in the correct machine.
The map for this type of game is quite poor: a 3D rotating map would have been a lot better and user-friendly. Instead, you have a top-down 2D map with places of interest, and objectives having a yellow marker. It is pretty hard trying to work out how to get where you need to be, as you cannot zoom into the map or rotate it, and if something is down a set of stairs, it can be a bit irksome to navigate.
The story itself is great, though, with Jesse opening up as to why she is there and starts working with the people she meets in the building. As well as the main mission, there are numerous side missions to complete for various characters, which will see you heading off into areas, on the way to a main objective. The Janitor – as an example – asks you to clear the rubbish in the furnace room. You literally just throw the toxic barrels in the furnace which is nothing special, but there is a recording in there that says the furnace was speaking, and it was never built in the building in the first place!
There are plenty of collectibles such as documents and tapes (both video and audio) which help piece together what has gone on. Once you get the hotline object of power (an old red phone with the ring dial removed), you’re able to re-watch videos and audio you discover on your travels.
Control is certainly a strange game at times, making you wonder just what is going on and what to be doing next. The doctor you are trying to find looks like he is in the late ’70s, adding even more intrigue. The equipment worn by the NPCs – so they don’t get possessed by the Hiss – looks like something from a B Movie from the ’50s. It is genuinely bizarre and unnerving at times.
If you want something different, you cannot go wrong with Control as it is great deal lot different to other third-person action games currently out there. Granted, it does become a bit samey at times after you have cleared out yet another similar mob of enemies, but the story keeps you going and hooked.
- Developer: Remedy
- Publisher: 505 Games
- Players: Single player only
Retro at heart and lover of all things ’80s, especially the computers, the music and the awesome movies and TV shows! Crazy huge retro gaming collection spanning the ’80s and ’90s with hundreds of tapes, discs and carts for various machines on top of a 600+ strong Steam library that is ever-growing. No I am not a serial hoarder, just a dedicated retro gamer!