If you haven’t heard of brand new video game Control, you’re about to. Reviews for Remedy Entertainment’s new action-adventure game hit this week, and general consensus is that it could be one of the best games of the year.
Control follows a woman named Jesse who applies for a job at the Federal Bureau of Control — a secretive government agency dedicated to dealing with the paranormal. Though she arrives under the guise of unemployment, Jesse is really there to look for her brother Dylan who she believes was kidnapped by the FBC when they were children.
Through a series of unfortunate events and a frankly terrible hiring process, Jesse soon finds herself the FBC’s new director. And because that isn’t enough to deal, a supernatural entity called “the Hiss” starts attacking the Bureau’s headquarters. Fortunately, Jesse has some paranormal power herself, helping her fight through her Hiss-controlled colleagues.
It sounds like there’s a lot going on in Control‘s world, but reviewers agree it’s a world definitely worth exploring.
Strong attention has been paid to Control‘s world-building, with captivated reviewers considering the uncanny setting the highlight of the game.
In his review, Andrew Webster at The Verge writes that the setting mixes “the banal and the bizarre”, creating a strange and unsettling atmosphere that nonetheless felt real. This blend of fantastical and bureaucratic results in details such as “memos from field agents about expense reports being lost to temporal shifts” — the kind of touches that can make an environment breathe.
Kirk McKeand at VG24/7 and Kotaku‘s Ethan Gach were also captivated by Control‘s creepy, fascinating world. Kotaku even found exploring the scattered papers and audio logs littered about the FBC a delight rather than the busywork filler such activities can be, with both Peter Brown at Gamespot and IGN‘s Jonathon Dornbush agreeing. Polygon‘s Dave Tach noted it could still sometimes feel like homework, but even he was intrigued by the FBC.
Control is excellent. The surreal side of Remedy’s previous games writ large. Exactly the kind of bold, weird work I wanna see more AAA budgets spent on.
— Mike Bithell (@mikeBithell) August 25, 2019
Control‘s gameplay is nothing to wave away either. Jesse unlocks supernatural powers as the game progresses, letting players customise their playstyle and eventually zoom around the place. Across the board, reviewers praised combat as innovative, powerful and satisfying.
James Davenport at PC Gamer claims that Control boasts “Remedy’s best combat system yet”, finding Jesse’s paranormal powers mesh well with the gunplay. The Verge likens Jesse to a superhero and found using Jesse’s powers satisfying. Kotaku was impressed by Control‘s creative action sequences and never got tired of hurling objects around with telekinesis. IGN too made special mention of Jesse’s telekinesis, finding the rhythm of fights engaging and fun.
However, The Verge felt Control relied too much on combat, which could get tedious and stifle exploration of the game’s fascinating world. IGN also pointed out that the enemies lacked some variety, and no longer posed a challenge by the end of the game, while Polygon was frustrated by an inconsistent health bar and fragile protagonist.
Further, both Kotaku and PC Gamer considered the randomised modification system for Jesse’s weapons felt like unneeded filler in comparison to the rest of the game.
Even so, these seem like more minor considerations in light of the praise that Control‘s combat has garnered from all corners.
Opinions vary more on Control‘s writing. PC Gamer and Gamespot found Control‘s plot somewhat inaccessible and obscure at first, but considered that this was what it was aiming for. Like most interactions with paranormal phenomena, one merely has to accept what is happening, and that they may not come out of it understanding what they’ve witnessed.
Even so, there were a few weak characters and plots, including Jesse herself according to PC Gamer.
IGN disagreed with this assessment, calling Control‘s writing “sharp” and finding the eclectic cast of characters charming. He did, however, consider Jesse’s plot the weakest: “like an afterthought” compared to the rest of the game, and found some of her inner monologue hokey.
VG24/7 found the writing “consistently brilliant” and was satisfied with the game’s ending, while Sam Loveridge at Gamesradar thought it was abrupt and felt unfinished.
Quick thoughts about Control after ~3 hours
– I am obsessively scouring every collectible/audio file
– the FLOW of combat is fun, but the shooting feels very imprecise and not too great
– this world/level design is all kinds of batshit crazy and awesome
– I want to play more
— Mike Mahardy (@mmahardy) August 27, 2019
Several reviewers also had issues running Control on their consoles. Kotaku found that the game tested the limits of their PlayStation 4’s capabilities during some of the larger action sequences, though it never crashed nor impacted enjoyment of the game. IGN, VG24/7 and Gamespot also noted performance and framerate issues on console, IGN having played it on a PlayStation 4 Pro.
Despite these problems, reviewers agree that Control is a game worth playing. Regardless of your opinion on the writing, Control‘s incredible, mysterious setting is reportedly a delight to explore. And who doesn’t love throwing things about with their mind?
Control is out now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.
CONTROL review scores
Eurogamer ‘Recommended’ badge
Press Start 9.5
Easy Allies 9
Game Informer 9
PC Gamer 88
Push Square 7
MC 81 (19 critics)https://t.co/HTus3hhRGo
— Nibel (@Nibellion) August 26, 2019