Remedy Entertainment’s Control is out now for Xbox One, PS4 and PC – we played their new supernatural action thriller on a Playstation 4 Pro, with the post-release patch that improved the game’s performance.
Control marks the first time in over ten years that Remedy is releasing a game without the backing of Microsoft. As a result, it’s also the first time since Max Payne 2 that we’re seeing a Remedy game on a Playstation platform – many thanks to 505 Games for that! Still, a question we had was if the move away from Microsoft was going to impact Control’s ambition and scope. The short answer: it didn’t, and Control fits right in with games like Alan Wake and Quantum Break. It’s familiar to gamers who enjoyed those games, while retaining plenty of a unique flavor at the same time.
Besides the stylish and cinematic presentation of their games, Remedy usually also adds a bit of mystery to their narrative – and Control is certainly mysterious. This was true when Remedy hosted pre-launch a (hands on) gameplay demo for us last year, stayed true up until the release and even while playing it. Unanswered questions, and getting the appropriate answers, are important dynamics in what drives Control forward – even though not all answers will be provided in the end.
The game has you as Jesse Faden, the protagonist and the director of what is called the “Federal bureau of Control”. It’s a role by Courtney Hope, who also appeared in Quantum Break. As per the norm in a Remedy game, Control features a range of voice and motion capture actors, including those who originally voiced the likes of Max Payne and Alan Wake – nice little throwbacks for Remedy fans. It adds up to what is another quality presentation that blends interactive fiction with traditional acting, and showcases that the developers certainly haven’t lost their touch.
In terms of the narrative, you start off inside the “Oldest House”, a hidden and mysterious location in the heart of New York. It’s under attack from something supernatural called the “Hiss”, which can possess other bureau agents in the building and turn them against you. Luckily, you’re armed with the “Service Weapon” (which deserved a cooler name, to be honest), and Control starts out like a traditional third person shooter not too unlike what we’ve seen from Remedy before.
As the story progresses, you unlock more and more abilities and Control sets itself apart from earlier Remedy games more and more. As you gain access to powers like the ability to levitate in mid-air and telekinesis (using objects to defend yourself or hurl them at enemies), you start to feel more like a powerful mutant from the X-Men universe rather than just a mortal with a gun. There is plenty of optional content in the game as well, allowing you to power up your characters but also giving you access to some pretty cool puzzles and combat scenarios. While Control can be played in a somewhat linear fashion, I’d advise you to take your time and explore a bit – the side missions are more than worth it and not just simple fetch quests.
Unlocking more abilities and weapon upgrades also adds a healthy dose of variety to the mix, and makes the combat not only exhilarating but also fresh-feeling once you start getting near the halfway mark – and the momentum is kept high until the credits roll. Getting stronger also means you’ll be causing more and more destruction in the surrounding area, and with Remedy’s skills at presenting this in a gorgeous visual fashion it’s quite the sight to see as well.
Control’s mysterious premise encourages you to go off the beaten path, since you can unlock access to notes and video clips that are there to read and watch. This also establishes Control as less of a traditional linear game as long as you play it this way, though the side effect is that there’s a bit of backtracking involved as you open areas that weren’t previously accessible. Mind you, this applies to the main storyline as well, there’s just more of it when you engage with the optional content.
Upon release, Control was criticized for some performance issues with the game on consoles. These were especially noteworthy on the PS4, but after the release of the 1.03 patch (and subsequent 1.04 and 1.05 patches) we found that everything ran incredibly smooth on our Playstation 4 Pro. Of course we can’t speak for the performance on a standard PS4, but it’s safe to say that giant strides were made in a short amount of time to guarantee good frame rates throughout the entire game.
Control is another brilliant Remedy title, and one that will receive new content as well in the months to come. Let’s hope it answers some of the questions that are left open in the game, because not getting to that clear apotheosis I was hoping for was pretty much the only downside to my experience with the game. A must-get, especially for those who’ve enjoyed Remedy’s previous games.