Control’s magnificent visual design, the unique weirdness of its world, and solid combat make it a game of the year candidate that doesn’t get diminished by the shortness of the story and the sudden ending.
Control tells about Jesse Faden, a woman with a mysterious past, as she is called to the New York headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Control – a secret facility that examines supernatural events. The game is set in the headquarters, which has been invaded by a sinister mysterious power, and Jesse seems to be the only one capable of fighting back.
Firstly, the game is gorgeous. The visual design, graphics, character and enemy models, and particle effects are one of the best I’ve ever seen. The voice-acting is superb and the facial expressions make you feel like you are watching a movie. Control’s architecture is brutalist, meaning wide-open spaces, strong use of concrete and colors, and sharp structures. You can see the influence of the real-life brutalist bureaus and the works of cinematic masters like Kubrick and Lynch. Moreover, those already beautifully and detailedly crafted spaces are filled with ominous red light, distorted enemies, and oily effects when you blast them; all this combined makes the game’s look a special kind of eye-candy. The sound design supports greatly Control’s malevolent graphics with portentous cultist-like sermons pouring from the mouths of possessed humans and intense drumbeat in combat scenes.
Blast an enemy to the face, jump off an edge and levitate, grab an incoming rocket in mid-air with your telekinetic powers and throw it back to another enemy and rip out chunks of concrete while landing to protect you from bullets. This is a regular combat sequence in Control. The combat is fast-paced, crisp, and satisfying. Service weapon, the gun you use, is a transforming relic that’ll let you choose between different forms such as revolver and shotgun. It’s a great mechanics whose best part is its unlimited ammo. The weapon has cool down which forces players to mix it with telekinetic powers in fights. Sadly, there aren’t many different powers but the few are exceptionally fun.
The narrative elements of the game are double-edged. Whereas the world-building and lore are one of the weirdest and most fascinating I’ve seen in any game, the main story itself is short, a bit cliché, and light in substance. It’s not outright bad, just too brief and superficial. Far more interesting are different, throughout the world scattered, readable files that have a good amount of lore and references to other games, movies, urban legends, and real-life events. I’m usually not fond of reading in games, but in Control I wanted to devour every single line.
Control is one of the best games of the year and I strongly recommend it. If you like interesting and weird worlds, solid gameplay or good stories, you should definitely pick the game. Control’s best part is the visual design, worst is the shortness of the story. It combines the best features from the previous Remedy’s titles: Max Payne, Alan Wake, and Quantum Break.
Pictures are in-game captures by Erika Tschinkel @erika_tschinkel
Publisher: 505 Games
Developer: Remedy Entertainment
Platforms: PC, Playstation 4, Xbox ONE
Release date: August 27th, 2019
Genres: third-person shooter, action-adventure
PEGI: This game has received a PEGI 16 because it features moderate violence, sustained depictions of violence towards human characters and use of strong language. Not suitable for persons under 16 of age.