Remedy Entertainment aren’t necessarily a company that have dominated the industry like Rockstar or Naughty Dog, but they have amassed a reputation for the zany and the weird with their titles. Alan Wake marked the start of Remedy’s adventure into the peculiar and the supernatural and it received excellent reviews from critics. Quantum Break, with its equally weird plot concept, lived up to Remedy’s standards of oddity, but fell flat when it decided to stand as a hybrid of both a video game and TV show.
Control is Remedy’s third eccentric title where the player controls Jesse Faden, who for personal reasons, has managed to track down the Federal Bureau of Control (FBC for short) in New York, who specialize in all things zany, confusing, and “paranatural”. Upon Jesse setting foot in the building, mind-boggling nonsense ensues such as Jesse becoming the new director of the FBC, and then having to defend the FBC whilst it’s under attack from a supernatural entity called the Hiss.
The story is substantial; constantly posing more questions than answers as the game continues, but the confusion never feels frustrating. Instead, Remedy manipulates the player and their curiosity so immaculately that you feel induced to unravel the mystery that is the FBC and every riddle within it.
On the surface, the game taking place solely within the Federal Bureau Control leaves little to the player’s presumptuous imagination. The FBC initially appears as a standard, generic office. However, the odd and eccentric plot reflects the world the game exists in. The Federal Bureau Control is way more than a simple office. It constantly evolves and changes, and is far bigger and more complicated than it should ever be. On a technical level, this makes exploring the FBC refreshing and exciting. To situate a game of abnormality and curiosity in such an ordinary locale – with a twist – the player’s perception is manipulated and tampered with. It’s thrilling.
Not only does its locale feel special and unique, the gameplay is something of a surprise in today’s industry. Throughout her stay in the FBC, Jesse Faden becomes equipped with various telekinetic and supernatural powers that slowly improve upon and complicate combat, making the game feel like it has a steady and satisfying sense of progression. At the beginning, Jesse is equipped with only a pistol – the Service Weapon – but eventually you’ll be flinging standard office décor at your foes and it feels oh so satisfying every single time. The gameplay is fluid, where the player feels (pardon the pun) in control of every hostile encounter, and as soon as the player begins to lose control (heh) is when they start to struggle.
It’s hard to commend Control completely without addressing the plot within – but that would be spoilers. However, it’s also difficult to praise this game completely when it has its flaws. The biggest weakness Control has is its framerate. At erratic points whilst playing, (this joke never gets old) the game can lose control and is consumed by frequent stuttering and freezing due to framerate drops. The map is also awkward and very hard to digest – with the FBC already being a maze, navigating it gets much harder when the map doesn’t show you the layout of the building in a concise and comprehensible way. As a smaller, final and petty criticism, Jesse Faden’s character model looks slightly imperfect – though this may’ve been intentional – and it’s occasionally distracting.
Control is a diamond in the rough, in essence. Though it seems a bit rough around the edges, at its core this game is something unique and special – and that outweighs its problems. However, the problems are sadly too prominent (at least at the time of reviewing) for the game to be enjoyed to its absolute. That doesn’t mean that this game isn’t an absolute blast to play, though.