Control Surprised Me

Control developed by Remedy Entertainment was one of the free games available to download for PS+ subscribers who owned a PS5. It was a game that I had watched and read about it when it first released in 2019, and I was super curious to play it. While I didn’t have high expectations of the game, it was fair to say I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. So let’s talk about it!

For disclosure – The version I played was the Ultimate Edition, which consisted of next gen upgrades and including two additional DLC content. Which I will discuss at the end.

Setting

The game starts off with Jesse Faden arriving at the Federal Bureau of Control, later finding out this particular branch to be called The Oldest House. The branch seems to initially be abandoned and apart from meeting this creepy Janitor called Ahti, no one else seems to be around. You eventually find out that the branch has gone into lockdown due to a Hiss breach, several of the members of staff were able to protect themselves with device being attached to their body. But due to a supply shortage, many staff members were either taken over by The Hiss or left in a vegetated state with no point of return.

Jesse came to The Oldest house on the advice of an entity living inside her head called The Polaris, it told her to go there as her long lost brother Dylan is being kept there. She eventually picks up a service weapon that was owned by the now deceased director, and gets immediately transported to the Astral Plain, an area between her dimension and many other dimensions. Due to being able to use the service weapon and traverse the Astral Plain, the board officially recruit her as The New Director. From there your journey to explore The Oldest House, find your lost brother Dylan and stop the Hiss Invasion begins.

Now I don’t want to go into more detail with the story, as we will be going into spoiler territory. What I will say is, the game felt like a mix of The Shining and Stranger Things with a bit of futuristic Sci-fi elements to it. The Oldest House being the setting like The Hotel in The Shining, full of dark secrets, mysteries and puzzles. Where the link between other Dimensions and invading species from those worlds, is a similar premise to Stranger Things. So with that being said, if you’re a fan of either of those two mediums I think you will enjoy the story a lot! I certainly did.

It was just missing the music to match the great presentation!

With single player action adventure games, I feel the story needs to be good. It needs to hook you in to its premise, there needs to be an interesting protagonist and the story needs to be written well. This was definitely one of the game’s strongest points, Jesse was an extremely likeable protagonist and was voice acted incredibly well by Courtney Hope. The story had an excellent blend of supernatural horror and action, as well as some generally chilling moments throughout your journey. When a game has you actively pursuing side quests in order to find out more of its world, you know that the story is good!

Exploration

Now I never played any Remedy Entertainment games before, so I wasn’t sure what I was getting into. Many have said it’s like old school Castlevania/Metroid games. Where you’re exploring one large area, but frequently needing to revisit locations after progressing more in the story as well as after unlocking certain abilities. I personally enjoyed most of the exploration of the game, because it does let you loose and explore as much as you like when you unlock each new area. The Oldest House is like one big Sandbox with many different levels. As you progress and find new sectors, you uncover more of the lore as well as progressing the plot. Certain sections after clearing out the Hiss, will let you cleanse the area of their presence which will then create a fast travel portal, others will appear when you’ve arrived at certain checkpoints. These fast travel portals were definitely needed, as you’re always going from one place to another.

There is a lot backtracking for sure, but the fast travel makes it a little less tedious

While the game encourages you to explore, it is very very easy to get lost. Now that might not have been such a bad thing, because you do have the fast travel portals. But it becomes an issue when you are trying to get to a certain point of interest. The map is easy to bring up, but actually navigating it can get a bit cumbersome. It can be very hard to distinguish what floor level you are on because there is no key or sub section to flick between different floors. The only thing you can do, is move between different sectors and trust me that is not enough! Now I might not be the best at using maps, but I do think this is an area that people will struggle with. With persistence you will eventually be able to figure out where you do need to go. I guess one good thing to come out of it, was that I naturally ended up exploring and finding more secrets by being lost so frequently!

Combat

I loved the combat in this game, it reminded me of the original Mass Effect Trilogy combat. Where you mixed abilities with gunplay.

Felt like I was playing the Adept class, if you know you know…

The Service Weapon, never runs out of bullets it just needs to be charged up while shooting. You can then apply a number of different mods to it, keeping two active. You can have it set as: an SMG, Sniper, Pistol, Shotgun and many more. I chose to have a combination of rifle and SMG. Switching between them both was easy, just by pressing one button. The abilities you unlock throughout your journey then just add more layers to the combat. Eventually you will be able to fly, use telekinesis, mind control your enemies and so much more. This is a third person shooter, but there is no cover system at all. This was what made the combat standout for me, yes you can hide between objects and other structures. But for the most part, if you want to win you need to keep moving. You need to balance the time it takes your gun and abilities to recharge and not taking too much damage. Without there being a proper way to block attacks, only dodging. The way you keep your health up is by picking up blue particles that fall on the floor after each enemy is defeated.

There is an abundance of different enemy types too, from ones that will shoot you off from a distance, to ones that will relentlessly charge at you with zero thought in them surviving from their own attack. There will be enemies that certain mods of the guns will not work well against, others that can easily dodge objects that you throw at them. You really will have to think smart on your feet and keep moving. There are no slow firefights here, and usually you are either fighting in large open spaces or tight corridors. Quite often you will have nowhere to hide, and I died several times as a result! There are also a number of different boss fights and sub bosses too. Some are more memorable than others, and I will admit the better ones you find will be from side quests so I encourage you not to skip out on them.

The Supernatural

As I mentioned earlier, you have the Astral Plain that you will frequently visit to further unlock abilities and find more answers. But within the Oldest House, there are many paranormal activities going on. There are items called Objects of Power and Altered Items. You will come across them quite frequently and it will take you to some mystic and crazy places. One for example will take you to a mirror world, I don’t want to spoil anything but you’re in for some fun when you find it!


There are a number of puzzles you will need to solve too, now my skills in solving puzzles are very low I must admit, so some took me a little longer to solve than they should have. But honestly the sense of accomplishment when you do, is so satisfying. What I really enjoyed is the character progression of Jesse. Initially she is a bit hesitant to keep uncovering all these mysteries, but driven by her goals and new found powers she takes them in her stride. You as the player, feel that confidence. All of a sudden I wasn’t fearful of where this object will take me or what is hiding in this abandoned sector. There is one section of the game, where you are navigating this maze. Believe me when I say, you will be in for a real treat, definitely one of the most unique and fun segments of any game I have played before, for sure.

Jesse has joined a list of an ever growing list of fantastic female protagonists

I have to take my hat off to Remedy Entertainment here, they really went in on the Supernatural and were really creative. The mystery and intrigue that they so eloquently set, really kept me moving forward and I couldn’t stop playing the game as a result. I was frequently sharing photos and videos to friends and family, in an effort to get them to try out the game.

A Few Complaints

Now I’m sure by now you have realised I absolutely loved this game, but that is not to say there are some issues with it that I need to address.

  • Enemy Respawning – This was probably my biggest issue, now usually after exploring an area and defeating its enemies you should be able to say its safe for you to return without having to fight enemies again. In Control however, that is not the case. Now I can accept them respawning after I have left the area completely or returning after a few hours. But not when I’m lost or returning almost immediately! It doesn’t help when its the same types of enemies either. It was during these moments the combat would feel tedious and it happened a few too many times for me.
  • No dedicated Path for following an Objective – Now If the map was easier to navigate, then maybe you can say we shouldn’t need some path to guide us to our objective. But due to its clunkiness it was evident that it was seriously needed. Now Like I said, I didn’t mind so much getting lost in the map. But I know some people would find it too tedious, and as a result not giving the game a fair try. There were times I did wish navigating the map to get to my objective was easier.
  • A lot of reading – I understand that to expand the lore, providing optional items to read is a good way of giving the player more without forcing exposition on them. But damn, there is a lot of reading to do! Some games will provide that extra reading within the menu system, but here they are almost entirely picked up from your exploration. It started to become a bit of a chore, as I was frequently going into the menu to read what I had picked up. No seriously, at the beginning especially you will not be going more than a couple minutes without picking up new reading material. There was a part of me that wanted to read, while another part that wanted me to keep pushing forward. At the same time, I didn’t want to have a huge backlog to go back and read. I would say the game probably needed an extra cut scenes or maybe a few more character interactions to get you through some important exposition.

Overall

Aside from those minor complaints, I thoroughly enjoyed my time playing Control. This is a great example of an excellent third person shooter with a great story and interesting setting. For anyone who enjoys story driven games I highly recommend this game, because you will thoroughly enjoy it. It’s not a short game, I think I spent atleast 20 hours on the game, and I still have a number of side quests to go back and complete. I personally would love to see a sequel to the game, there is potential for a universe to be explored via sequels and even spin offs. I didn’t even mention how good the game looked, but I hope the photos did a good job of illustrating that. So yeah, before I talk about the next gen features and bonus features of the Ultimate Edition. Let me just say, this is a brilliant game and definitely one of my favourites from the past console generation.

Ultimate Edition Features

I have to commend Sony for giving the Ultimate Edition as the free game, they could have just given the PS4 version as the free option and I would have been perfectly happy with it. So here is a rundown of what you gain with Ultimate Edition.

  • Performance/Graphics Mode – Like Spider-Man Miles Morales you have two different options for playing the game. I chose 4K at 60FPS, rather than 30FPS with ray tracing enabled. Let me tell you this, the 4K 60FPS mode is the far superior mode. The game still looks amazing to look at and it runs buttery smooth. On top of that, fast load times and no slow down at all. The 60FPS just suits the combat perfectly and that is why I recommend this mode.
  • Dualshock 5 features – You get haptic feedback when you’re running where the controller will mimic Jesse’s footsteps. But the really cool addition is the adaptive triggers! For example: Using the SMG mode, the triggers will rumble really quickly. When using something like the shot gun or pistol mode, there will be a little extra pressure required and a bit of resistance. Now this doesn’t really make the game even better to play. But that little extra immersion and feeling you get is a really nice touch. I hope to see more games do this!
  • The Foundation and AWE – I’ll be honest I never realised this was additional content, I thought they were part of the base game. Guess that just shows you how well they blended the two chapters together with the story. AWE in particular was my favourite, I went through this section mid way through my play through and its actually a crossover with Alan Wake. So if you’re a fan of that game you will certainly enjoy this one. The Foundation served more of an Epilogue and you explore a whole new section of The Oldest House, I found it okay but nothing too special in comparison to the rest of the game.


So that was my Review of Control. Have you played the game? Sound off below and share your thoughts, would love to discuss them with you!

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