Review | Control
"Remedy took control. No questions asked, buy and play the game, there is just everything good in here that you can think about their finest days and innovative gameplay."
by Foggy, 02-09-2019,
Not often I found myself gloating like a little child. Control gave me everything I needed when it comes to surprises. Even though Quantum Break was not a great title in a sense of their finest work like „Max Payne“ and „Alan Wake“, Control arrived and they are back!
What we have in front of ourselves is a new action thriller horror third person paranormal candy, fully wrapped up and placed in Federal Bureau of Control (FBC) building. We follow story and events of young Jesse Faden, a sister and a new Director on board, starting totally confusing, yet perfectly describable for what this really is about. FBC is under supernatural phenomena as a result of Altered World Events, place where other dimensions exist and are shaped out of human collective unconscious. FBC investigates these events and artifacts that are left behind. Objects of Power are another type of artifacts that can grant special abilities to their host when they “bound”. It is a pretty solid story, even more than that. It takes you by the hand and tells you a story, a story about something familiar, yet fresh; messing with your mind in the process.
When you enter empty building big as this, you know that something fishy awaits.
Jesse is not an ordinary persona. When you take your first steps you will notice she often talks with her inner voice. Mysterious. As you wonder down the empty hallways of FBC, only person you will meet is a Janitor. He will point you towards director’s office where horror begins. Director is dead, gun on the floor. Jesse takes the gun and you are in your first dimension that is bound by this gun – first object of power you will cleanse. She is strong, she overcomes all this psycho drama and takes control of the gun. That will be your main weapon and start as a new board director of FBC. Look at it as a director of all the nasty stuff that happens in bureau. You venture further and deeper in, observing floating bodies in the air, soon to reach the first cleanse point and some living beings.
Safe points will be your best friend. Not only it teleports you around, but also you can upgrade all there is.
Cleansing points in this game shifts the building a bit. Some walls are pulled in making new ways and giving you new opportunities. That start will introduce few FBC members and elaborate the story further, giving you missions to fulfil and some optional options to talk about if you would like to learn more about stuff happening around. Voice acting is at high level, while facial expressions lack certain something, I often asked myself why Jesse’s beard vibrates so much when she talks, hell, even when she listens. Then again, I would wet my pants if I was stuck in this kind of phenomena. NPCs are mediocre but fun, they contribute to the story and often give side missions to pursue. As far as the storytelling goes, its maybe not breath-taking experience, but certainly holds its own and every second is interesting and mysterious. Just think about a scene where a guy stares into fridge because if he looks away, fridge will eat him. Having in mind that fridge is object of power, that happens. Game Is full of weird situations and hidden secrets, there is just so many of those and makes you feel rewarded when you come across some. For example, you can find mute room and a tape recorder which will explain about some experiments conducted there – as soon as you enter that room, music starts to play out of walls, and you will just stand there and enjoy. It’s the small things that makes difference.
A typical monday. You come to work, some collegues float in the air...Classic.
Speaking of small handy things; game can offer audio settings for your headphones or speakers. I played the whole game on headphones and I was really satisfied with how good the sound was. Everything blends perfectly, gun sounds are excellent, music in the game is so good, I will comment on that a bit later, we have that spooky atmospheric music all the time which will send chills down your spine. The whole game presents itself perfectly – it’s a horror, a thriller, an action chiller. There is even a cartoon variation called “Threshold Kids”. You can watch few episodes on TV screens if you find them, they are just the spookiest thing I’ve seen lately, bizarre short cartoon clips about the game theme and story. Loved it. As the collectibles go, you can find so much stuff that will extend the story in a good way. Your option is to read and listed to all those, or simply to ignore. I loved all of these. Throughout the game you can watch many videos staring a doctor which maybe best presents the events from beginning to an end. They are hilarious and so much fun.
Short video clips are a must to watch. I loved these and those spooky cartoons.
FBC is a maze. It’s a dungeon filled with people possessed by Hiss as they call it. Hiss gets into your mind and suddenly you are not human anymore. You are a possessed marionette, often with a gun or supernatural abilities. Jesse has that gun, and Jesse likes to use it. Whole game evolves around couple of floors and areas that are locked behind doors; or unreachable at the certain point of the game. Don’t think about it as repetitive game where you need to backtrack every now and then, actually it’s a fun experience and if you follow main story only, you will not feel repetitiveness not even a little bit. Even when you want to explore every door and corner, game rewards you will new areas that opens only by following certain side quest, or simply by opening doors beyond lock of certain level. You collect cards with clearance levels which can open locked doors. Gaining new abilities opens new ways that are previously blocked for you. All that is what makes this title stand out. It felt like a breath of fresh air even we saw these in many games before. But design is just ridiculously well developed and presented. Many assets are similar on every floor, maybe that industrial exterior can feel a bit dull, but that is the only bad thing. Not even a bad thing, just the way it was intended to be. I miss the nature styled themes, always prefer them instead of anything else. Also, I miss more puzzles in the game, that would make the game even more fun.
Beaufy of creating different consciousness.
Side content is not bad, though it can be a bit dull. Some quests are of a fetch nature, while some develop good story and present in game NPCs and getting to know them. What I did not like are the random missions that pops out. Mostly those are “go there and remove the corruption” kind of missions. They do reward with some items you can use to upgrade, just that they get boring very soon. Other type are challenges that you can take (3 at the same time) are similar with reward system. They require you to kill enemies with certain type of gun, in certain areas, certain enemies etc. Also nothing spectacular, as soon as I grinded those for trophies, I stopped bothering.
When you love the game, nothing is hard to achieve. Convenient as well.
You can hold 2 types of your gun at the same time. It is you only weapon as a weapon, and you can develop couple of different forms, like a machine type of gun, shotgun, rocket launcher or pierce. They can be imbued with enhancements from enemy drops or loot boxes (no microtransactions, no worries). Some of upgrades are handy, for example I used faster reload time and almost double damage when HP is under half. You can also increase your HP and Energy with personal enhancements. Similar stuff. Not bad, not great mechanics. They had to have something, so they granted us this. Missions and discovering hidden areas reward you with ability points which you use on checkpoints (teleport clearance points) to level up Jesse skills and statuses. All basic stuff that could have been more complex and better.
Now, tell me what is above and what is bellow. Capcom, if you are listening, give boys some advice.
I wanted to save the best for the end. Game excels in combat the most. Oh man, if all games were fun as this one is, I would never even bother sleeping. Remedy revolutionized gunfights in Mad Max and although Quantum Break was a let-down, Control takes control. Really, they learned from the past and incorporated all the best mechanics here. You control so much more than your gun, which btw doesn’t use bullets, it kind of reloads on its own after certain time period. There is whole another style you can use. The power of force. Everything that you see can be picked up with your mind power and thrown back at enemies. Enemy with a bazooka? No problem. Enemy with a grenade? No problem. Take that when its flying towards you and throw it back at their face. You can even hold fridge or destroy big chunk of wall, making massive damage. And it’s good against armored enemies, as you cannot damage them with a gun when they have shield. Nothing a little piece of wall can’t handle. You cannot just pick up massive objects, first you need to improve your skills. And holding those require more time as that objects are heavy. At the same time always combine your gun with paranormal skills – when your gun is cooling down, you are using other abilities and so on. There is a shield type of skill where you guard against frontal attacks, you can levitate and slam down on enemies. I just don’t have the words to describe the beauty of combat in this game. Instead of just talking about it, there is one damn fine video I recorded for this purpose. If you don’t like spoilers, do not watch it. It shows one late game part of dungeon which you cannot progress until you find janitor which shows you the way by giving you his Walkman. Playing that shows the way through the maze. So, in the video, you can see what that is about, and you will see all skills that you can learn through the game and development of Jesse. This is the thing that made me love them game even more.
This is not a game where everything points to your destination. There is a map with objective markers though. Still, you will need to learn map and teleport points a bit to know where to teleport and enter where you need to go. I love that, finally a game which is not holding you by the hand. While we are on the map topic, they really need to improve map design. RE2 Remake had such a good map, in here its just a plain sketch without any depth. You have no idea is something in upper floors or in basement. On top of it, they need to patch the map. Often when you open it it will just show labels without border. Closing and opening for a couple of time fixed the issue.
A good method do scare enemies. Hurts, but works.
This is the perfect place to talk about negatives in the game. I’ve played on PS4 Pro, thinking it will be stable. I was very wrong. The biggest flaw is definitely its technical performance. Every time you press Pause or enter game menu, frame drops are going wild. Everything slows down and it needs couple of seconds to stabilize, which is annoying as you will often enter your menu. Another issue is when you run towards groups of enemies, it just shudders and frames drop. They really need to fix that. PC and apparently Xbox versions are much better in term of performance. It seems like it’s a good time for new generation of consoles. Graphically game is nice, if only it weren’t for these technical problems. I was even blocked during one mission where cleanse point never appeared. Had to quit the game and re-try the last part of mission. I don’t even have to mention how many times I jumped and some object got stuck inside of me. It ruins the experience a bit, so this combined with decent but not great storytelling and character is the only reason I find this game to be below 90 score.
Not an easy fight, let me tell you that.
Control is a great game. Some will find these technical issues to be a turn off, personally I’ve found so much to love that all those were just thorn which easily got out. Boss fights are great, not easy, some side mission bosses are hard, weird camera and movement can be one big reason for that, but in general you can’t just run and kill everything, some tactic is advisable. I love how they presented everything and combat that is so much fun is not something you see and enjoy in every game. Remedy is back, grab your piece and enjoy this unique experience. 20 hours of things to enjoy, up to 30h if you do everything and read all there is. Who knows, maybe we are in for some good DLC, ending can mean that. Either way, I enjoyed the game so much and would recommend to anyone who likes this kind of games. Take control, says the janitor. Wise man.
Post-it much? Alrighty then.