Control is a game developed by Remedy that, for the longest time, I blamed for the fact that I never got the proper Alan Wake sequel that I wanted for so long. It always seemed they were going to announce the sequel as they teased a game full of mystery and intrigue, with people possessed by a supernatural force… But then – once we had more details – it became apparent that the sequel I so desired was not meant to be, and thus, Control was born.
You know what? I am perfectly happy with this, and running around the Federal Bureau of Control as Jesse instead of Bright Falls as my boy Alan was a compromise I was willing to make.
I did not like Control to begin with; I found the gunplay to feel a little bit basic and boring, and I couldn’t gel with the game on a narrative level either. However as I continued to play I found that I was unable to put the game down, and think about anything else once I stopped. The game is filled with such a level of mystery and intrigue that once it had its hooks in me it just wouldn’t let go.
I am not going to describe much of the story to you because knowing very little about the game is what was best for me; as I say, the entire premise is based on mystery and intrigue… So there’s not a chance I am going to spoil the experience for you. I will however describe the basics from the first hour or so.
You take control of Jesse, the newly appointed Director of the Federal Bureau of Control – The Bureau itself it found inside “The Oldest House”, a somewhat magical house that the government uses to discover and research the paranormal. As Jesse arrives it’s found that something called “The Hiss” has gotten loose within the Bureau and is possessing everyone inside – Except for people who are equipped to handle it, and Jesse herself.
Then, as you expect, Jesse tries to find out the why’s and discover more about herself and the voice inside her head (of course there’s a voice in her head). This is about as much as I am comfortable explaining to you without ruining anything of the game, but I will say that it has been years since a games story has had me so invested that I even read through all the various documents I picked up as I went through the game.
Oh and… You know how I said I felt the gunplay was a little bit flat? Completely forget that. As I unlocked more powers and upgrades from the games skill tree system or the various “objects of power”, I felt that the game was deeper than I ever gave it any credit for. I WILL ALWAYS give a game an additional bit of credit when it lets me pick up the scenery and chuck it at enemies with a satisfying THUNK.
Control uses a basic “Skill Tree” system to allow Jesse to level up her powers and unlock access to new weapon mods as we progress. It’s nothing special in the way of this, but it gets the job done. Unlocking new powers however is done using the games objects of power that I mentioned above, which are tied directly into the narrative and give Jesse a reason to explore that bit deeper into the Bureau.
Control is not a game that is going to please everyone. Gameplay wise, it’s far from perfect, but I have found the games narrative was so so so good that I honestly do not care about the gameplay in the slightest; it’s a similar thing that I had with Vampyr recently, in that I was there for the story, not the gameplay. Saying this though, whilst basic, I did find the powers to be super fun to use.
Visually, Control is absolutely stunning. It blends together a mix of CG and Real World actors in order to tell its story, and whilst this has always been a really jarring experience in other titles, it’s done in a such a way that it works perfectly in Control. Enemy design is used to add to the mystery so well that I found myself trying to get as close to many of the enemies in the initial instance just to see the subtleties of the design featured on the faces of my foes.
Control has me so deeply invested now that once I got past the initial slow start I was unable to put it down. All I want to do is progress further through the Bureau and find out all the mysteries that lie in wait for me…
I appreciate that Control isn’t going to please everybody, but for this reviewer, the game sits comfortably as a 9/10 based purely on the story. Control achieves everything it sets out to do, and that’s why I am happy to overlook some of the games tiny issues and rate this game so highly, based on experience.