Alan Wake was a game-changer when it launched almost a decade ago, and Remedy hasn’t skipped a beat with Quantum Break launching in 2016 and now a new take on the thriller adventure genre, Control. Remedy has become synonymous with creating games that offer a breath of fresh air to the saturated action-adventure genre, with special attention to details such as environments and lighting, not to mention very memorable stories. Control is Remedy’s latest offering; a mind-blowing adventure filled with twists and turns that will make you want to stop playing but also see what’s around the next corner.
You begin Control entering what appears to be an abandoned Federal Bureau of Control (FBC) headquarters as the new director Jesse Faden. Jesse soon learns that the building has been taken over by a supernatural power that she aptly gives the basic nickname of the Hiss due to the sound the enemies make. After locating the previous FBC director and acquiring their service weapon, you begin to learn that the building is not all that it seems. Your service weapon is a supernatural pistol that automatically recharges its ammo, but Jesse soon learns that she needs to use other supernatural powers to overcome the elements she faces as she delves deeper into the fathoms of the FBC.
As you progress through the game, you will unlock more intricate powers which allow you to defeat tougher enemies. They all drain Jesse’s energy though, so balancing your use of these powers particularly early on is a must. Melee gives you a strong force push, useful not just for hitting your enemy but also stunning them and creating distance. A telekinesis power called Launch allows you to pick up most objects and quickly lock on to an enemy to throw it at them. Evade allows Jesse to move a few meters rapidly to either escape an attack or reach a previously unreachable location, then later in the game Jesse acquires Levitate and Seize, giving her the power to both fly and mind-control enemies.
Once you gain all of these powers you become fairly unstoppable, but of course that’s when the game gets difficult with enemies that will match your powers. Control has a steady learning curve, though it’s not as difficult as the likes of the Dark Souls franchise. It’s consistent with the difficulty of Remedy’s previous games Quantum Break and Alan Wake, and you can expect some decent boss battles staggered throughout the game.
As the story quickly develops into a search for Jesse’s brother, your exploration through the FBC headquarters becomes more complex. There are multiple floors and areas to explore, and it is definitely not your average office building. Reclaiming areas from the Hiss will remove their effects on the environments making them appear more normal, and allowing for fast travel on the floor that you’re currently on. You still need to use the building’s lift to go to different areas however, and this causes a fair bit of back tracking and bouncing around the map which is different to Remedy’s previous games. As mentioned, once you gain skills like Levitate and Evade, you are able to reach previously unobtainable locations which unlock even more of the map, so you may find that you head to the same location several times during one playthrough.
Combat can be challenging at times, though we did notice sometimes the enemies stay in one spot and you can pick them off from around corners where they aren’t able to attack you. If this were to change in a later patch then the game could become even more challenging but considering there’s no proper cover system other than crouching, we doubt they’ll make any changes to the overall combat system. As with most games, you must upgrade Jesse’s skills and abilities as you progress through the game and level up. The order in which you upgrade her health, energy or other perks is up to you and the game has surprisingly in-depth skill trees that we were not prepared for.
There are plenty of collectibles throughout the game including a plethora of reading material which adds to the story, artwork, music, and other bonus items. Players will also find mods for weapons and abilities, however these usually drop from killing enemies as opposed to finding them in the world, meaning players that tackle all missions are likely to come across all of the different modifications available for Jesse’s arsenal. You’re going to want to search every nook and cranny to find all the extra collectibles though, and some require some basic puzzle solving or thinking outside the box to reach as you search the various unique environments of the FBC.
The voice acting is all on point with actor Courtney Hope voicing Jesse Faden after she voiced Beth Wilder in Quantum Break. This time around however, Courtney Hope’s likeness has been used to create the character model for Jesse Faden, giving it an even more realistic feel. There are some other familiar names in the cast such as Matthew Porretta (the voice of Alan Wake), and James McCaffrey (the voice of Max Payne). It’s a voice acting cast filled with star power that lends to the great music and atmosphere of Control that helps to make the game another Remedy Games memorable experience.
Remedy is well known for their detailed environments, so we were expecting attention to detail in Control and weren’t disappointed. The level of interactivity is as you would expect, particularly when you start force-lifting items and throwing them around. While a lot of the office style rooms tended to blend in with one another, there are surprises around every corner in Control, particularly as you explore some of the further reaches of the FBC. We did notice some objects weren’t responsive to bullets though, for example some monitors we could shoot straight through and it would remove a poster off the wall behind it but leave the monitor intact. There were other situations where you could shoot through glass but it wouldn’t shatter the second layer of glass behind it even on the second shot which was surprising given the level of detail of the environments that Remedy has gone to.
Character models look great on Remedy’s Northlight Engine, though sometimes Jesse gets a creepy stare going on. We ran the game on DirectX 12 with all settings maxed out in 1440p and the framerate stayed very steady which was great to see considering there’s often a lot to animate at the same time with inanimate objects getting thrown around and the Hiss flying and running at you from all angles. Unfortunately we weren’t able to try out Control with ray tracing on, though based on the gameplay videos already available, we’re confident that those with RTX setups will be happy with what they see.
Once again, Remedy Games provides a solid psychological action adventure thriller with a creepy story and even more creepy environment to play through. While the main story takes about 15 hours to complete, there are side missions, collectibles and some end-game content with more coming at a later date giving fans plenty of reasons to keep coming back to Control. If you liked Alan Wake and Quantum Break then you’ll love Control, and those wanting to try something out of the ordinary will be in for a treat and a real memorable gaming experience.
Rocket Chainsaw reviewed Control on Windows PC using an EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 FTW Gaming graphics card and a Samsung C32HG70 32” 1440p QLED Curved Gaming Monitor on maximum settings and experienced no framerate drops and no other issues. Control is also available on Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
- The FBC is bigger than you would think - Surprisingly in-depth skill trees - Fun supernatural powers
- More like Quantum Break than Alan Wake - Some minor physics flaws