Publisher: 505 Games
Developer: Remedy Entertainment
Release Date: 08/27/2019
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I love Remedy’s games and always have. From the first Max Payne all the way to Quantum Break there have been ups and downs, but Alan Wake still remains my favorite game from them. Control takes place in the same universe as Alan Wake and even explains what kind of happened down there, as you play as Director Jesse who has a crazy gun that can transform and you fight off weird enemies called The Hiss and your goal…well…I can’t tell you what the end goal is as this is Remedy’s most incohesive story yet with many plot holes and even after the credits rolled I still couldn’t make sense of the story at all.
Let’s start with the exploration. Control takes place solely inside the Federal Bureau of Control and is a generic boring and ugly building that is basically a labyrinthine maze that requires a ton of backtracking and is a pain to navigate. There are several floors in this building and spread throughout are Control Points which you use to level up Jesse and fast travel. Even though fast travel is nice trying to find new areas from those points is a serious pain. Throughout the game, you can find files to read and solve simple puzzles that use your telekinetic powers. Jesse can throw objects as weapons and break off pieces of the buildings as well and hurl them. This is a key combat mechanic as you will swap between this and your weapon when either is recharging.
Combat in Control is pretty boring and frustrating. In fact, I would have rather had no combat in this game and it would have been more enjoyable. Shooting enemies that float in the air, have shields, larger health bars, and some bosses are all fun, but not in Control. The game throws an insane amount of enemies at you at every turn and there are no cover systems so you must run around like a bafoon trying to avoid explosive enemies, bullets, and projectiles. You don’t get to levitate until the last fourth of the game and I never even got the dodge move or shield as completing side missions is an absolute chore and I didn’t care enough to see the level-up system all the way through.
Many times I died because you can’t heal unless an enemy has dropped health and if you picked it all up you’re screwed. This is essentially a broken mechanic and I hated every minute of it. Not once did I enjoy the combat because instead of fun and unique bosses you get tossed into arenas and gauntlets and waves of enemies to chew through and it seriously hinders progression. Not to mention they respawn in certain areas when you’re trying to cut through somewhere. The gun itself isn’t fun to shoot as it requires recharging and there’s no ammo or reloading. There are various forms such as a sniper pistol, machine pistol, grenade launcher, shotgun pistol, etc. but I only stuck with a couple of forms throughout the whole game. You can add perks to Jesse and each weapon that can increase health, decrease recharging, energy costs, etc. and these are vital to surviving.
As you explore the game you will notice Remedy’s signature trippiness as levels twist and turn and transform and there’s a supernatural aspect to the game of course, but it’s all for naught. Nothing in the game is ever explained like why can I pull a string three times and get warped to the Oceanview Motel and have to solve the same stupid puzzles inside. Ring the front desk bell, go into a room remember the placement of objects, ring the bell again, and move the objects to the next room. It’s stupid and makes no sense. Why is Jesse communicating with this Hadron entity and who is her brother anyways? What purpose does the Director have in all of this and why does a slide projector harness so much power? Yeah, makes about as much sense as it sounds and nothing is ever explained. It’s hard to push through the boring and frustrating combat only to get another confusing cut scene that seems like a random piece from a storyline.
Control looks pretty good, but Nvidia’s DLSS anti-aliasing is awful here and the game is a blurry mess even with MSAA enabled. The engine is decently optimized as I got a steady 60FPS through most of the game with RTX on and it rarely dropped below 45FPS. However, the art style is dull and stale with concrete hallways and corridors. It doesn’t have a unique identity and that’s sad as Remedy is good at this.
Overall, Control is a disappointing follow-up to Remedy’s legacy. With Quantum Break being as disappointing as it was, was Alan Wake their last great game? Control isn’t the game we all wanted, and I honestly won’t remember this game a week from now, and that’s sad as there’s lost potential here with Remedy’s signature touches that just don’t quite connect. The combat is boring and frustrating and very repetitive, lots of backtracking, and a confusing mess of a building to explore just doesn’t strike me as fun. If the story was at least solid it would be worth it, but it makes no sense, and when the credits roll you just shrug and wonder why you wasted your time.