Step in to Old House
I finally got around to playing Control. It was on my list of games to play before we here at Dash Cancel put up our Game of The Year. I will admittedly say I didn’t have my hopes up for this title, as Remedy seems to try really hard, but fall short of that magic we all know from their early days. I came out on the other side pleasantly happy. This could be a nice turn around to tell by the virtual campfires of how Remedy found what it had lost. Well, outside of the rights to Max Payne that is. But let’s try to move on from old Max, while we look to Jesse Faden. Who happens to be looking for her brother.
When walking into the Federal Bureau of Control(FBC), Jesse feels like something is off about the place. But some force is leading her there. When you are handed control of Jesse, it feels like an old friend has come to visit, for better and worse. As Jesse’s inner monologue is telling her every thought, you instantly know this is indeed a Remedy title. Which will be a third person action game with awkward mechanics and a few puzzles, while a crazy story unfolds. And at first, I did kind of find myself a bit bored.
As I said, Jesse seems to think that coming to this FBC building in New York will help her find out answers about her brother. Without going into spoiler territory, Jesse is the only survivor of an incident that happened in the town of Ordinary, which she seems to think was a big cover up, which lead to her brother getting taken. Or maybe she is just crazy. Remedy plays on that angle a bit, which works really well when you are somehow thrust into the role of Director for the FBC. Yeah, this is already getting weird. And it doesn’t stop. You learn you are now in the Oldest House, which harbors more secrets than anyone could understand in a lifetime. And shifts around on its own. So when Jesse picks up the Director’s gun, the game really begins. This is where I felt a bit disinterested. Near the beginning, it just feels like an above average third person shooter. The Old House has been invaded by some entity possessing people. Jesse calls it the Hiss. So at first it’s just some standard running and gunning inside a weird office building.
The graphics are pretty good, with some really cool lighting that shows off when the Hiss are near. A really static red glows, illuminating everything until you cleanse the area via control points. There is a bit of a chug when going in an out of the menus, which can be annoying when in the middle of a fight, but other than that, no major problems in that department. The facial features are nice, showing Jesse’s emotion when she is talking, or even thinking to herself. You really get the notion she is messed up in all sorts of ways. But then it seems that Jesse isn’t alone here. She keeps having a discussion, and you learn that something is sort of sharing her body too. Something that has been with her since the incident from her town of Ordinary, over seventeen years ago.
Inside the Old House are different Objects of Power. This could literally be anything. An old radio, a lamp, fridge, etc. They have been housed here for examination and containment, as they generally lead to bad things happening. Jesse can interact with them and gain powers. This is where Control gets interesting. You get a very Twilight Zone sort of feel as you meet the people who works for the FBC. And they all just accept you as Director. And they all need your help. So now you got side quests on top of the main quest. Which is always a good thing in this sort of open world(house) game. This is where Quantum Break failed for me, the lack of really doing anything outside of going to the next “episode”. I get Remedy was trying something new here with Quantum Break, combining the game with live action episodes that play out based on your choices, but I never cared about the cast, or the game really. It felt just, well, like a chore. And Alan Wake, which I enjoyed, still didn’t live up to that open world horror game it was originally supposed to be. But I get it. Things happen, and you have a game to finish making. But, the things all of these games have in common? A serious lack of enemy types. All of these really cool scenarios, well spoken dialogue, and you’re just taking out the same wave of enemies. Well, Control does fall into this problem, although not as bad.
One cool part is leveling Jesse. At each control point, you can spend ability points to increase your health, unlock new powers, etc. So I opted to level up how much damage is done when I use my powers to throw an object at an enemy early on. The more side quests you do, the more powers and ability points you obtain. Those side quests to me were the best part. Remember me saying this game falls into the same old enemy types? You traverse the Old House sort of Metroid style, only being able to go to certain places early on, then on to more areas with new abilities. Once you gain the power to float, I really enjoyed myself. Just floating around, flinging objects at the Hiss, and using whatever gun types I have unlocked. Generally with each new power, a new enemy type is introduced, which keeps combat a bit fresh. But ultimately, it’s the same thing over and over. Except for those side quests. The bosses in the side quests were not only really unique, they were a harder challenge than anything in the main story. I feel if you don’t play those, you are really missing out. As there is no difficulty levels, Control is either easy or hard. I did die more than most action games that are similar, but nothing was impossible, so it felt about right. Except for a certain fungus side quest. That boss killed me at least five times.