Control Review

Control makes me feel like a badass. Running through a scifi horror setting equipped
telekinesis powers and a gun that warps into various weapons, Control is good ol’ adventure
that’ll have you itching for the next upgrade. Control stars Jesse Faden, a woman equipped
with a paranormal entity since she was a child. They share a close relationship where they
telepathically speak to each other to analyze situations. With their help, Jesse stumbles upon the federal
bureau of control. Think of them as the CIA but for everything
supernatural in the world. Their headquarters looks like a cross between
a minimalist office building with the architecture of the future. It’s a beautiful set piece and where all
of Control takes place. This building of the future cloaks itself
from the public and contains what seems like an endless amount of space and secrets. Upon entering the building, Jesse discovers
that a hostile force known as the hiss, has taken over the building, keeping everyone
locked inside. It’s up to you now, the newly appointed
director of the bureau to defeat the Hiss and uncover what happened here. Along the way, Jesse will meet with other
members of the facility, briefing her on what happened. One of the most notable supporting characters
is Emily, a girl who’s just excited to work at the bearu and is easily intrigued by all
that goes bump in the night. Her bright and energetic demeanor was infectious
and kept my spirits high the deeper I went into the facility. While the story slowly reveals itself through
the internal monologues Jesse has and the conversations with other staff members, what
I found particularly interesting was the story telling done through exploring. Finding documents, tapes and videos featuring
live action actors, further elaborated on what happened here right before the invasion
of the Hiss. Throughout the 15-20 hour story, I felt like
this badass detective as I shot, launched and explored everything in sight. While I wasn’t too big on the story telling
for Quantum Break, Remedy has picked themselves back up and truly delivered on a story worth
investing in. Remedy has been known for creating these cinematic
third person shooter adventure games that cross gameplay with real life footage. It was a prominent component in Quantum Break
and while it failed there, it soars in Control. Being built on the same engine used in Quantum
Break, I wouldn’t blame you if you confused Control for a sequel. It isn’t but it does feel like an improvement
from what Remedy has done before. Taking place entirely inside of a building,
Control sounds like it’s confined but even in just a single world, this world is fascinating. From the beautiful architecture layouts of
the building to the out of this world warping done by the infection hiss. It looks like a cross between Ex Machina and
Inception. Inside these walls are the infected, members
of the bureau who have been infected to the point of being completely converted, warped
or just left lifeless. You’ll see them lifelessly floating in the
air or attacking you in waves as red hues overtake the white walls of the facility. It’s an irry sensation to see these images,
it gives this horror feeling without fulling limiting itself as a horror game. Combat in Control feels simple yet incredibly
fun to perform. Like the God of War leviathan throw, Jesse’s
telekinesis powers felt satisfying every time I had the chance to use them. Her combat arsenal is a cross between using
a gun and her power. Her gun, adopted from the previous director,
is able to morph into various types of guns as you make your way through the campaign. These weapons can also be modded to add some
buffs to your combat. Along with the gun, Jesse uses her psychic
powers to demolish the hiss. She’s able to push people away with a sonic
blast, launch objects at enemies and create a shield with anything nearby. All of these powers could also be upgraded
using ability points or mods that change up the stats on how they work. Jesse feels powerful, almost like a lost Chronicle
movie character. I loved it, most of the time. I got addicted to throwing objects at enemies
time and time again, sprinkling in the gun fire between throws. Over time though I did notice that with only
a pool of 5-6 enemy types, combat felt somewhat repetitive by the end of the game. When I wasn’t fighting off the hiss or helping
someone with a mission, I was exploring, using my psychic powers to solve puzzles and platform
my way through the constantly changing facility. Puzzles would usually have me looking for
switches or keys to activate hidden parts of the area. These would also introduce hints of platforming
right before a combat sequence. These sections were rather simple and straight
forward. Getting your way around the facility is kind
of a mess. Don’t get me wrong, I love finding new areas,
hidden away items that either told me more about the story or upgraded my powers, but
the mini map available is confusing to navigate. There’s multi levels that are hard to decipher,
the map can’t be zoomed in and you constantly have to pull up the map to get around, slowing
down the frame rate at times too. Luckily you can fast travel to certain areas
of the world but these are only points you’ve already been to, leaving you to struggle with
the map the next time you have a mission to a new area. Control is beautiful, the design of the architecture
is stunning with the cinematic filter over it all. The use of red hues in the mostly colorless
rooms look jaw dropping every time I went to clear an area with the hiss in it. Part of what made using the psychic powers
so addicting was the destructible environment. Throwing objects across the room and having
it destroy desks and other pieces of the office looks so cool. One of my favorite parts is just being able
to use launch and have it rip off part of the floor or wall nearby and see the destruction. It’s oddly satisfying. The use of real life footage mixed in with
the gameplay was jarring at first but overtime I found it to be cleverly used further elaborate
on the story. Where Control does sadly struggle in is in
performance. Whether you’re playing on PC or console,
Control suffers from these weird frame rate drop issue anytime you pause the game. Immediately upon hitting the resume option,
I always noticed a fps dip that halved the frame rate for a short time before quickly
picking up the pace. In general, though you can expect a native
4k resolution on Xbox One X and an upscaled 4k on PS4 Pro, both targeting 30 frames per
second. That’s then dropped down to 1080p on PS4
and 900p on Xbox One S. If you’re dead set on playing at 60fps, you’ll want to play
on a PC with a 20 series card. Control features an eerie soundtrack that
helps develop the creepy atmosphere. The use of bass heavy warp sounds and synthesizers
sound like something ripped out of the movie annihilation. Accompanying the subtle music is the brilliant
sound design that went into the combat. The crunch of brick and the distorted base
when your psychic powers are used, make the impact of every launch all the more satisfying. Actor performances were also impressive with
Courtney Hope as Jesse and Antonia Bernath as Emily, being my two stand out performances. Jesse’s internal monologues to herself seemed
relatable and believable while Emily’s conversations with her were always highlights in the campaign. Control weaves together in an interesting
story within one of the most fascinating settings I’ve experienced in gaming this year. Having these psychic powers to take on enemies
while firing an array of bullets is combat galore at its finest, even with the little
variations in enemies. The performance could be better on console
but not enough to ruin what is otherwise a fantastic adventure to go on.

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