Review: Control (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • PC

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • 1080p Monitor

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required
  • Move None
Title: Control

Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (26.90 GB)
Release Date: August 27, 2019
Publisher: Remedy Entertainment
Developer: 505 Games
Original MSRP: $59.99 (USD)
ESRB Rating: M
A code for the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy
Audio Review available on Podcast Episode 639

Gameplay:
If you were to mix Twin Peaks and The X-Files together and top it off with just a bit of Hideo Kojima craziness, you’d have Control.

Control is the latest game from Remedy Entertainment and while Control feels like the previously mentioned elements, it has Remedy’s DNA throughout its core. Remedy is known for experimenting and creating amazing worlds, from the fantastic atmosphere of Alan Wake to the ambitious (though uneven) Quantum Break. Remedy has consistently made interesting games and concepts that often feature FMV.

Control feels like a culmination of everything they learned from their past work and is satisfying from beginning to end.

Control follows the story of Jesse Faden, a person drawn to the Federal Bureau of Control to find answers about her past and telekinesis powers. Soon after her arrival, she is given the role of Director after the previous one was found dead.

Equipped with a transforming gun known as the Service Weapon, Jesse is tasked with saving the Bureau and their headquarters from a possible alien or demonic force known as the Hiss.

The Hiss possess people and objects, and it has chosen the Bureau of Control possibly because the headquarters has secrets and is known as the Old House.

The Oldest House from the outside looks like a mundane office building, but in reality, it’s a powerful and magical house that is capable of transforming and shifting. Exploration is important to the experience and is encouraged with a MetroidVania like system, having you explore an ever-changing map and using your powers and security clearance to open up new areas.

The House is such a cool concept that is executed so well that it feels like a character of its own. Finding the secrets of the Bureau and The Oldest House is a driving force in the game, at least for me. There are redacted documents to find characters to talk to, and, because it’s a Remedy game, lots of FMV videos and aspects melded into the world. It’s really fantastic and my favorite aspect of the whole experience.

At the core of the gameplay though, it’s a third-person shooter, where you take advantage of the transforming Service weapon and Jesse’s telekinesis abilities.

The Service weapon is easy to use; as you progress it receives more forms which you can modify with power-ups by discovering new parts and collectibles. At first, the Service Weapon is a pistol with infinite ammo that is only limited by a cool down which you can eventually upgrade. Later on, it will receive the abilities of a shotgun and more types of modifications that can be switched between with the hit of a button. The shooting is solid, but the combat is elevated by the telekinesis powers and make the combat fun.

Luckily, Jesse is a badass with telekinesis powers. Her powers remind me of Force Unleashed because they might as well be the Force. You can pick up objects and throw them at enemies or use objects to block their fire. You use your powers to fast dash attacks and float/fly. It’s so much fun plowing through enemies once you unlock her full arsenal and it’s a fantastic power trip.

The game isn’t a cakewalk though; you have puzzles to solve and navigating The Old House can be a challenge, sometimes even a chore. I did find myself on a few occasions backtracking and going in circles trying to figure out where I need to go, and a poor checkpointing system adds to the annoyance. It’s not a total wash because the world and atmosphere build is a strong foundation.

Visuals:
When I mentioned the Oldest House being a character, it’s the visuals that really define it. Watching rooms transform in real-time is a trick I never grew bored of and the way the game uses lighting to emphasize the transformation or pull your attention to a specific area. It feels like a psychedelic trip anytime the Hiss shows up or the game plays with superimposing FMV over the environment. I feel the Twin Peaks and Kojima inspiration all over the game when it comes to the visual presentation.

Character models look fantastic and close-ups sometimes confused me on whether the game switched to FMV on me. Not all the character models leave that impression, as I found some models of the side characters to lack the same level of detail or look slightly off. For example, I noticed with a couple that their lip-sync was slightly off or the animation was a little stiff. It’s definitely noticeable because the main characters look so good, therefore anything not quite on their level comes across jarring.

Audio:
The performances from the voice cast is wonderful, from Jesse’s strong leading performance to the bizarre janitor who is just audible enough to kind of understand. There aren’t any weak performances.

I especially love how weird the game gets with some of its FMV, from weird instructional videos to FMV being superimposed into the world. The acting and sound design around the performances make atmosphere engrossing.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is one player only with no online component.

Conclusion:
From beginning to end Control had, well control over me. The bizarre aspects of the story combined with the great presentation had me hooked.

The gameplay never let me down when it came to being fun and, while I have never been a fan of MetroidVania games, this one worked for me because the world was interesting and mysterious.

It’s not a perfect experience, I found some bugs here and there and while the gameplay is fun, it’s not doing anything we haven’t seen before. It’s everything else that makes Control a must-play, the mystery, the world and aesthetic is top-notch.

Score:

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Michael Cwick

Michael Cwick

Just a nerd from the Windy City. I’m actually really bad at describing myself because I get all self-critical and self-conscious. Follow me on Twitter, @The1stMJC, to see my borderline insane rants on tv shows and other non important subjects. If I’m not tweeting I’m probably just watching Buffy or Firefly for the millionth time.

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