With the many third-person shooter adventures out there in the market, only a handful truly stand out from the rest. Then there’s Remedy, a company that crafts bizarre, off-beat games that stick with you long after the credits have rolled. In the past, this has been true for the classic Max Payne series, Alan Wake (my personal favorite) and even the troubled live-action hybrid Quantum Break. When I first played Alan Wake, I was sure that this was the absolute pinnacle of Remedy’s blend of pop-culture, film aesthetics, and video-game design: I am happy to say I am very, VERY wrong.

Control is Remedy at its best.

 

A [REDACTED] Story

(For the purpose of the review, I want to remain as vague as possible since some of the finer points are, well, quite spoiler worthy.)

It only gets weirder from here.

In Control you play as Jesse Faden, a woman on the search for her brother who went missing after an event that separated the two. After years of following leads, Faden’s search has brought her to the headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Control (FBC); a shadow organization that deals with the paranormal world. Within moments of entering the building, Faden begins to discover the bizarre and otherworldly nature of the FBC headquarters which sets the tone for the rest of the duration of the game.

Sit, have a chat, and understand the world of Control.

Along the way, Faden encounters a fantastic cast of well-acted, strange characters who fit the world of Control like a glove. To some, the events transpiring seem like another day at the office which is a stark contrast to Faden’s initial shock of what transpiring. Some of the dialogue, however, can be a bit wonky or the timing just feels a tad bit off, but it never really breaks the pacing. Control’s cast is only strengthened by the captivating world that Remedy has created. When the game was first revealed, I did not expect the world-building to be so thorough. The world of Control is its greatest strength. Faden’s personal story, however, is drowned out by the intrigue surrounding her.

Get Your Head In The Game

Remedy is a master of world-building, but they’re also masters of a good shootout. Control has a thrilling game-play loop that combines exploration, combat and fantastical psychic powers. As you explore the world, you come across objects that grant your character amazing psychic powers. The powers range from telekinesis, a cool dodge and a few more that are better left as a surprise. Of the god knows how many games that employ super-powers, Control might be one of the best. The world crumbles apart when you start using the amazing psychic powers, a testament to the games particle physics.

A host of exciting psychic powers at your disposal.

Psychic powers are great and all, but nothing beats a nice paranormal hand cannon that can take many forms. Control features a unique weapon called the service weapon, that can take multiple forms. They usually mimic the functions of a sub-machine gun, shotgun or a sniper rifle, etc. These gun forms can be changed at any time, with fast-access to two at a time. The various gun forms feel fantastic, and a joy to use. Some forms, however, are more useful than the other but that is up to the player through various modification.

The aftermath of a brutal firefight.

It’s a good thing that Faden has all these powers and gun forms, you’ll need it. The world of Control has been invaded by an other-dimensional entity known as the Hiss, and they’re not nice. The Hiss take over humans as hosts and employ them against their will to fight the FBC. Hiss enemies start off as generic office workers taken over, all the way to strange constructs and horrifying monstrosities. The varied enemies make combat scenarios exciting, especially when paired with the incredible combat in the game. Some of its marred with some poor A.I. and various random bugs that hamper the experience, but it’s never been game-breaking.

The Oldest House

In 1964, a group of FBC agents discovered a massive object of power known as The Oldest House; a tall, brutalist skyscraper in Manhattan. The Oldest House was then converted into the FBC’s headquarters, as well as the setting of Control. One of the biggest surprises I had when I first began Control, was the fact that it wasn’t a standard third-person adventure game. In fact, it is a fantastic example of a Metroidvania game which stitches together complex level designs and areas filled with secrets and intrigue. The world of Control is as interesting as the events transpiring within it; I absolutely love traversing the world and soaking in the painstaking detail and design philosophy that Remedy has crafted in this game.

Control’s in-game map to make sure you don’t get lost.

Control’s level design is nothing short of fantastic, with complex and visually interesting zones that are ripe with places begging to be explored. The verticality and scale of some of the areas, mixed with the tight corridors of others combine together to create a wide canvas brimming with exciting combat opportunities. The experience of traversing The Oldest House reminded me of another fantastic world, Talos I from 2017’s criminally underrated game Prey. Both games featured a hauntingly interesting world to explore, with beauty and sound design to match.

Paranormal Beauty

Is Control one of the most beautiful games to release? Yes, absolutely. I say this with full confidence, even without owning a monstrous RTX 2080 TI. Control’s beauty is both technical, as well as its astounding art-design and design philosophy. Every location and frame looks like a work of art. The interior design is a brutalist’s wet-dream, with sharp lines and rigid geometry that dot the imposing halls of The Oldest House. The entire presentation of Control is a mixture of cold architecture mixed with an almost Kubrickian visual style that makes Control a feat of visual design. It then pains me to say that the game does not feature a camera mode, but Remedy has assured us that the feature will be coming post-launch.

Till the camera mode arrives, I hope you enjoy these breathtaking visuals as much as I did:

On top of looking gorgeous, the game also sounds amazing. Every bit of action in Control sounds crisp and real. Gunfire echoes in hallways and otherworldly chants haunt your very soul as you venture through the world. Remedy has done a great job capturing the feeling of being in a paranormal world both through their sound design, as well as their soundtrack.

The Truth Is Out There

Control is a surprising game; something I was not expecting to play. Remedy always crafts interesting experiences, but I never thought the game would captivate me on such a level. It is one of the few rare games where I want to turn over every stone, read every e-mail and discover more about this world. Despite some technical bugs, moments of poor performance on PC and some strange dialogue, Remedy has crafted an unforgettable experience that cannot be missed. Mid-way through a busy year of games, Control is an easy contender for the years best.

 

 

Control Review
The Good
  • Interesting, complex world begging to be explored
  • A feat of visual design and presentation
  • Exciting and tense moment to moment gameplay
The Bad
  • Some minor bugs
  • Shaky technical performance in some areas
  • Faden's personal drama could use more punch
9Overall Score
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About The Author

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Robin Ghosh (a.k.a. SpectreRobin) is a Sr. Staff Writer at GAW. He is a published writer, photographer, videographer and budding filmmaker and is currently the content director of TABOOZAPP. Having recently finished his masters in media production at Ryerson University, he is gearing up to take his career to the next level (ha, gaming pun). Robin is in love with role-playing games, sim-shooters like Deus Ex and Prey and has a soft spot for survival games like DayZ. He will play anything with a good story and a compelling world to explore. That being said no matter what year it is, he will probably at some point have a craving to play Skyrim again for the 3rd time..4th? Who knows, he really....really likes Skyrim.