In this day and age, where it’s relatively easy for something well-liked by audiences and critics alike to go viral, very rarely does anything go unnoticed or fly under the radar anymore.
From new video game titles, movies, and products, among others, anything that’s considered above average is often hyped up as the best thing since sliced bread, or so to speak, much to the chagrin of many. But, even so, it does happen. For whatever reason, something that was recently released and well-received doesn’t gain as much traction as it should have.
Control, a brand-new action-adventure game developed by Remedy Entertainment and published by 505 games, serves as proof of that.
Buried among the hype for the last few blockbuster titles to be released before the current generation of consoles sees its successor, Control didn’t get the attention that rightfully deserved. Although it probably didn’t help that its publishers, Remedy Entertainment, are known for divisive video game titles with an obscure mechanic or two such as Quantum Break, Alan Wake, and Max Payne.
Control is no different from Remedy Entertainment’s previous games. It might even be their weirdest release ever. Yet, interestingly enough, Control might also be Remedy Entertainment’s best game ever.
What Exactly Is Control All About?
In Control, players will find themselves playing a red-haired protagonist named Jesse Faden, who has recently been appointed as the Federal Bureau of Control’s new Director.
Not to be confused with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Federal Bureau of Control (FBC) is a fictional and secret government organization that’s of the United States responsible for investigating and containing anything related to paranormal phenomena and everything else that seems to violate what is perceived by most people as reality.
As Jesse Faden, it is the player’s job to explore the “Oldest House” and find out everything there is to know about Hiss, a deadly new threat, all the while trying to locate Jesse’s missing brother.
Feel Like the Ultimate Psychic Superhero
What I’ve noticed usually is the biggest problem faced by video game developers who utilize superpowers in their titles is that it’s difficult to find just the right type of moves to add to the protagonist that are both fun and necessary to use.
You throw in a couple of moves here and there, and often, the player gravitates towards those that are “overpowered”, which can bog down gameplay at times and make it feel boring.
Somehow, Control finds a solid mix that’s both satisfying and fun to use without taking away from the challenge. For most of the 10-hour single-player campaign, you’ll literally feel like a psychic superhero, even though that might not be the game’s intention.
Playing as Jesse, you can use your telekineses at your own will. Wave your hand? That chunk of concrete is as good as dust as it snaps to the side with a satisfying crunch, enough to make you wince at times and think just how painful it must be for your foes to come face-to-face with you on your worst day. Also, because of the completely destructible environment, your thirst for wanton destruction will be satisfied with any chance that you can get.
Late in-game, you’ll feel even more like a god among men, what with levitation and hovering, among others, becoming par for the norm. Just like every other psychic that you’ve arguably seen in various media, Jesse is also capable of commanding a shield that protects her from outside forces, including from enemies attempting to use their own telekinetic powers to try and put you in a world of hurt.
Despite feeling all-powerful, Control forces you, the player, to constantly be on the move. You can’t just put yourself out in the open and expect to survive. Your foes, just like you, are capable in their own right. This makes strategically planning how to navigate the battlefield imperative survival. Go all out on the offensive, and you’ll find yourself dying before you know it. The same goes if you’re too defensive, as your enemies will be more than glad to throw all sorts of punishment at you.
This cleverly designed combat system makes it necessary for players to learn how to adapt and use certain powers at opportunity times, which adds a layer of challenge to Control that makes it all the more compelling.
Is Control A Perfect Game?
Combat makes up a huge part of Control’s gameplay, which is why it’s incredibly important to mention how Remedy Entertainment gets an A+ for what they’ve managed to accomplish.
That isn’t to say that Control lacks any flaws though.
For starters, Control takes a wee bit of time getting players into the thick of things. The slow and gradual build-up can and will turn off its fair share of players, and so will its confusing plot that, honestly, will make it hard for players to care about what exactly is happening and why things the way that they are. This isn’t to say that Control lacks any sort of direction plot-wise, but making players care about the story should be the priority of any single-player campaign, and Control misses out on that point by a lot.
Also, as an open-world, action-adventure title, Control can come in quite restrictive, especially early on. A good example of this is a mold-covered wall that you encounter early in the story that later on opens up with literally no explanation as to why it was closed off in the first place. Chronic adventurers will definitely find it frustrating as to why they can’t go to certain places in the game.
Thankfully, these are all minor gripes.
Despite failing to provide explanation for closing off certain parts of the game, Control does at least manage to evoke the same kind of freedom of exploration that it arguably set out to accomplish, making it satisfying for even the most straightforward of players to have to go back to the earlier parts of the game to scour older areas that were logically inaccessible early on.
A Low-Key Contender for GOTY 2019
Notice that we haven’t really touched upon the graphics part of Control? Well, it’s mostly because we wanted the game to speak for itself. But, if you insist, we’d describe the game as beautiful and leave it at that.
If you’re playing on a desktop PC or a laptop that supports DirectX 12 ray tracing, Control is a must-buy right now if only for the eye candy alone; never mind the fact that it’s an exhilarating third-person action-adventure game that’s arguably its developers best outing yet.
For the average gamer, however, we’re not quite sold on it being a must-have just yet.
On one hand, there’s really nothing quite like Control on the market. It’s a hodgepodge of multiple genres from film and gaming that, thanks to Remedy Entertainment’s taste for the peculiar and unknown, works and manages to deliver a mind-bending story that will have you thinking about what exactly happened well after you’ve finished the game.
On the other hand, that’s exactly the problem, “what the hell did I just play?”, is a common question that most players will probably ask themselves will playing through Control.
It’s this divisive reception that will definitely work against Control if it ever were to find itself up for nomination as one of the best video game titles released this year. However, if you’re up for something different, you could do a lot worse than at least try out Control.
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