Review: CONTROL Game

Control is a game that wasn't big on my radar. After having played the game extensively, I am glad that the game was present as a small point on the radar. A true masterpiece by Remedy, known for Quantum Break, Alan Wake and Max Payne.

It is extremely difficult to describe exactly what Control is about. After playing through the story and almost all the side-quests and boss fights, it's still a messy event, but only in a positive way. You take on the role of Jesse in search of the Bureau of Control. For years you searched, but you could not find it. Suddenly you find it, as if it had to be. The Bureau of Control is a physical building, but it is in a super-physical law. You soon notice that the building you are in is not the most ordinary complex.

You walk down a corridor and meet Ahti, the janitor. You start talking to him and he thinks you are the new assistant janitor. Ahti has a special accent and not everything he says makes sense. He will direct you to the director's office. You continue your way through the hallway and come to a familiar spot. You were here just now, but now there is suddenly an elevator. It just wasn't there yet. At this point you are already finding out that not everything is straight forward in this office. You make your way to the director's office and find him dead on the floor. You pick up his pistol, the service weapon, and suddenly you are the new director. Now it's really starting to get weird.

The Hiss

The agency has been hit by a strange "something" they call the Hiss. It takes over employees and makes them hostile. In some cases it changes the body in such a way that you encounter different kinds of enemies during the game. Standard agents, but also snipers and rocket launchers. It doesn't take long before you encounter strange shapes such as flying persons in chairs or exploding enemies. Once they were all people who worked for the agency. Now they have been taken over by the Hiss that nobody knows anything specific about yet.

Where does the Hiss come from? The agency works under strict secrecy and from the outside everything looks 'normal' enough. Once everything starts to warp you know there is more to it and that is the fact that there are several portals to a place called the 'Astral Plane'. This dimension is linked to the desk and houses several mysterious objects that the agency is or has researched. It is also where Objects of Power are located. These objects give you special powers. Furthermore, there are Altered Items that all react differently and carry certain conditions. You will have to disable some of these objects to make the desk a safer place.

Control

Something you definitely don't have while playing is the control. Not at all in the beginning. You can compare the game a bit with a Metroidvania or Resident Evil game. Despite being the director you start with Clearance Level 1. In total there are 6. As you play through the story you get new levels to discover new areas. In addition, there are certain areas that you have to unlock during the game in other ways. You can navigate the maze in which you find yourself a little faster thanks to the so-called Control Points. You can fast-travel between these points, but don't make navigating any easier. It is and always will be a big maze with many question marks.

Certain places in the office can only be reached by entering a threshold. These are again alternate dimensions that sometimes seem very much to the normal world. A frequently recurring threshold is the motel. In this motel you will always have to solve a puzzle to find a key in one of the motel rooms. Once found you will be able to open the door where you can open the real world passage to another part of the office.

Gameplay

Control plays like an action game and a great one too. The game is not easy, so you quickly have to adapt to the environment and the enemies you have to deal with. You have a service weapon that can take different forms. You start with a handgun mode, but later you get a shotgun mode, SMG mode and more. You can upgrade all these forms depending on each other and provide them with such mods. For example, these mods provide more damage, more headshot damage, less recoil and so on. In certain situations, you may want to switch modes and mods to make your collision a little smoother.
During the game you will always unlock new powers which you can also upgrade separately from each other. For each main or side mission you will receive power points to distribute. Soon you will unlock the power that allows you to pick up objects, make them hover and fire at your enemy. This is a very powerful attack and it is also a pleasure to hurl an object at your enemies. For example, you can upgrade this power with extra damage, but also launch bodies and larger objects such as forklifts.

Enemies don't just let you attack but do everything they can to get back at you and the AI isn't exactly stupid. They try to dodge your attacks and are generally very aggressive. There is no difficulty in the game so you always play the way the developers envisioned. When you get hit you lose health points, but there are no medkits. The only way you can fill up your life bar is murder. Enemies drop a matter when they are dead. This matter will replenish your life bar. There are mods that allow matter to recover more health, or allow you to have more health.

Graphically very strong

To complete the whole picture, the game looks very good graphically. Graphically one of the strongest games of this generation in my opinion and this is mainly due to the art direction, but also mainly because of the world around you and how it reacts to your actions. Almost everything around you is physical. This means that the world around you is affected by, for example, your attacks.
You can pick up chairs, desks, tables and all kinds of stuff to launch. Everything that stands in your way will be demolished or blown over and even walls, elevations and railings will break down. If there are no objects nearby to fire, Jesse will pull a piece of concrete out of the wall or floor and the damage will continue to show as long as you are in the area. The extent to which everything works together is so beautifully done. A trend that we certainly want to see grow further.

Unfortunately, this also comes with the downside and this is the performance. In moments where many enemies come together and you cheerfully start demolishing everything around you, you will notice that the frames drop just as fast as the number of chairs around you. At times this can last quite a while, making certain encounters unintentionally a lot more difficult because everything does not go so smoothly.

Verdict

Control is one of the strangest, most interesting, but above all most beautiful games of this generation. A real masterpiece from Remedy if you ask me and we hope to see more from Jesse and the Bureau of Control in the future. The game leaves more questions at the end than it answers, but the experience was unprecedented! The story is linear, but there are plenty of side missions. It only gets really challenging when you look beyond your nose and find out that there are serious threats lurking in the Bureau. It is one of the most beautiful elaborations of a metroidvania level design with many unique and strange places with more than enough variety. The checkpoints can occasionally be a hindrance as these are also the checkpoints if you die.Every now and then you have to travel back a bit to try an encounter again. Fortunately, that is the only downside of the game in terms of design and the rest is just perfect. Control is a game that you must have played this generation. The characters, the story, the gameplay and how everything works is simply magnificent.


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