Control: AWE DLC Review

August 30, 2020

For many longtime Remedy fans, AWE is the story they’ve been waiting years to see. The first part of the ‘Remedy Connected Universe’, AWE officially crosses over two of the company’s biggest games beyond simple references and Easter eggs, as the worlds of Control and Alan Wake finally collide, finally offering the Alan Wake faithful some new content after a decade. However, while it does enough to wet the whistle of Wake worshipers, AWE is largely a stale retread of Control that doesn’t offer a lot beyond a tease for what’s to come.

Jesse Faden, the new paranaturally-powered director of the Federal Bureau of Control, finds herself exploring a new level of their headquarters, after she receives visions from Alan Wake, a writer. At the conclusion of Wake’s games, he was left trapped in the extradimensional ‘Dark Place’, where his fictional writings could influence reality, and now he appears to be influencing events within the FBC, where an old enemy from his past has been let loose in the Investigations sector, mutating from a mixture of the Dark Place and Control‘s Hiss. It’s Jesse’s job to find this monstrosity and put it down before it escapes containment.

While the game is billed as finally providing some further development on Wake’s situation, and a potentially epic crossover between himself and Faden, it’s not as substantial as fans may have hoped. There are a few isolated live action scenes that build some interesting mysteries, but do little to solve anything, instead offering a promise of resolution a few years down the track. Using Control as a vehicle to expand the story of Alan Wake is a potentially cool (and sneaky) idea, but unfortunately its execution does more to confuse the storylines of both games than it does to illuminate. Meanwhile, the actual mission at hand in AWE is fairly unengaging, despite a very creepy design for the monster, Hartman.

AWE ultimately boils down to following Hartman through a couple of loops around Investigations, where the FBC were examining two ‘Altered World Events’. These ‘AWEs’, while cute, aren’t especially fleshed out in a way that serves the larger story or provides much in the way of interesting scenery, outside of an out-of-place lunar lander. The entire Investigations division looks like it’s been made from recycled and reshuffled assets from the rest of Control, consisting of the same offices, corridors and turntables that players will already be very familiar with.  This may be a result of work being disrupted due to the pandemic, and if that’s the case then it is unfortunate, as compared to its DLC predecessor The Foundation, there just isn’t a lot in AWE that’s as out-there or arresting, visually.

The addition of Alan Wake‘s world brought the possibility of new mechanics thanks to his arch-nemesis, the ‘Dark Presence’, which infects humans and turns them into horror-movie-style crazed killers, and can only be driven back by light. However, the Dark Presence isn’t much of a threat in AWE outside of the boss battles with Hartman, where he sticks to dark areas and can only attack you if you venture into the light. Your objective in these simple puzzles is to turn the lights on to drive him out of the area, usually by throwing power cubes at sockets, and it’s an effective mechanic. Beyond that, you’ll find clumps of darkness sticking to walls and loot boxes like tar, which you’ll need to cleanse using Faden’s telekinesis to pick up and shine work lights. Unfortunately Remedy don’t take advantage of using the Dark Presence to create any further new enemies or threats that Faden can face, meaning that you’ll largely be facing the same Hiss patrols and ambushes you’ve seen a hundred times over in the base game.

Outside of the main story quest chasing Hartman, you can also interact further with the AWE’s in small, cute, side quests, and also take on a supernatural arcade machine to replay encounters with the Hiss. There’s also a wealth of new documents and audio recordings to find that flesh out the Investigations department, as well act as little teasers for future Alan Wake and Control storylines.

And that’s ultimately what AWE is, it’s a teaser for Remedy’s new ‘Connected Universe’ that will firmly connect Control with Alan Wake and who knows what else. Quantum BreakMax Payne? In a just world, Death Rally would sneak in there. It’s definitely a disappointment compared to the new powers and trippy areas we received in the first part of Control’s season pass – The Foundation – and the new meat it throws to Alan Wake fans does little to resolve the character’s lingering narrative threads, but to set up new ones. It’s still a solid 3-4 hours of new Control gameplay though, which is still great fun, but like the Hartman monster is beginning to feel a little stretched and recycled.


-Finally throws Alan Wake fans a bone after years out in the dark
-Some cute puzzles and Altered Item sequences
-A cool boss monster design in Hartman


-Doesn't significantly build on the Control experience in the way The Foundation did
-The Investigations department is quite dull, full of recycled areas and content
-Only glimpses given of a larger crossover, with the tease of one in the future

Overall Score: