Control is an action-adventure game developed by Remedy Entertainment and published by 505 Games. I played on the Xbox one X, and the Xbox one S. The game tells the complicated story of the Federal Bureau of Control or the FBC, a hidden secretive government organization that handles paranormal phenomena and otherworldly events. The FBC keeps these events and objects hidden from the masses of people. The FBC’s New York headquarters, known as the Oldest House has been overrun with a strange force called the Hiss that threatens all life, outside and within the Federal Bureau of Control. You play as Jesse Faden, a stranger with a mysterious past. Jesse has the help of Polaris, a strange presence inside her own head. After searching for a very long time for her brother, Jesse finally finds the Oldest House. She enters, and everything she knows about her life will change over the next ten or so hours of playtime.
Control is bizarre, in a good way, even in a great way. When first starting the game, players can expect to have no clue as to what is going on. This being said, this review will try to hide spoilers as best as possible, but if you really want the fresh, crazy experience, I suggest picking up the game right now and giving it a try. You are the director, upon entering Jesse soon learns that she is next in line for a directorial position in the FBC. This being said, as a director you will feel that you have little to no control, and the agents of the FBC keep doing what they want, whether you like it or not. As director Jesse gains control of a powerful artifact known as the service weapon. The service weapon is a strange shape-shifting gun that can morph into many different types of firearms. The service weapon starts off as a pistol, capable of taking out weak hiss targets, then as the hiss evolve, so does your weapon. Eventually unlocking powers such as automatic fire or a charging blast, not to mention the other few weapon types, making a total of 5 gun types in Control. Jesse can also find modifications for her weapons and her own body that increase her potential power. There is also a very basic leveling up system in place. Skill points are awarded for completing missions and finding secrets, so there are only a set amount of them.
This game does deserve lots of praise, but it is also pretty simple. All of the powers are acquired through basic side missions or recieved at certain story moments. There are only a handful of powers and they are all pretty predictable, like shield, throw, that kind of simplicity. The only power that truly impressed me was the flight power, this was easily the most exciting. Flying felt really good, it also unlocks new areas of the game and a whole new fighting style. Every power is obtained by binding Jesse with an object of power, which is basically a paranormal object. Being a sort of chosen one, Jesse can overpower the objects and use their powers as her own. The powers combined with the gunplay make for simple yet exciting combat. However, if complexity is something you desire for combat, this is not a game for you.
This game really only used combat as an obstacle in the way of the story. The combat is there, but you won’t really remember most of it. The game is semi-open, and you can explore everything before and after you finish the game. The optional bosses stand out as being really fun and make it worth playing through all the side quests in Control. Control only has ten main missions, they can take about an hour each with some exceptions. The game could benefit from a better map system because I had to look up shortcuts and areas that I had completely forgotten. You could argue that the simple map and lack of specific directions adds to the mysterious element of the game. I would agree sometimes, but even that mystery should have it’s limits when it makes it more boring to play.
The game looks good, the graphics are pretty decent. The graphics did tend to break immersion when talking to people and watching the facial animations. They still work, but it looks really strange. The times where you are the floating camera following Jesse look good though, and the faces are only a minor disappointment. The sound design is really good and helps players feel immersed in an office building, which may or may not be a good thing.The acting is really good, especially Dr. Darling, who acts as a helpful tutorial along the journey. The game utilizes real videos of doctors filmed on real sets playing with the crazy objects and powers in Control. Courtney Hope, who plays Jesse Faden, does a great job sounding just as confused as we all are. Technically the game is perfectly good, the furniture can break and the destruction physics are fantastic. The graphics, sound, and voice acting are all very nice.
Towards the end of the game I had a big problem with frame rate and rooms not loading in. Two different times I walked into a room that wasn’t loaded and I ended up falling right through the ground and it counted as a death. Combined with the long loading screens throughout the game this problem can add lots of frustration. The frame rate only seemed to go down in fights, but luckily I never died strictly because of frame rate. These problems can make certain parts of the game annoying and add too much idle time.
The story of the game and overall setting are top notch. I highly recommend playing this game if any of this sounds appealing to you. The story is awesome and is one of a kind. I have never really played a game quite like this one so it is very hard for me to compare it to others. The closest thing I can think of is Quantum Break (2016) which was developed by the same people, Remedy Entertainment. This game is great, but unfortunately it is not long enough or detailed enough to really be a 10/10. This game is a simple classic, and it is a great ten or so hours. The game is a great time and fun, but once you put it down and finish it, you don’t really have a desire to play more. Regardless, play it and try to gain Control.