Control – Review

So right off the bat let me just say that I’m going to write up another post on the graphics of this game. Mostly because I just love the technology behind it and it’s the reason I played this game on my PC, and part of the reason why I bought an NVIDIA Turing graphics card with RT cores.

The phone is ringing

After the initial reveal of this game, I went pretty silent on the media coverage because I knew it was a game I wanted to play. The premise seemed cool, I like the developer, and I didn’t want to be spoiled on anything. Coming into the game cold, I had certain preconceptions about how it would work, and that led to a slight disappointment in one area. I thought the building of Control was going to transform in really cool ways as you played, which it doesn’t at all. This is fine I guess, but I feel like the initial media that was released portrayed a building that kept altering it’s shape as if it was alive, this building isn’t really that. The building, which is called the Oldest House, is where the Federal Bureau of Control (FBC) resides in New York City, and it has a set structure and layout. This helps in being able to navigate it’s many floors, corridors and departments. It just means that those cool bits from the trailers where the walls shift around and change shape only happen in certain areas, which when cleared, just transform back into how the room is supposed to look. That’s all, just a way to block off progress until you beat all the bad guys and then you’re free to move around.

Strange characters abound

Some Story

You play as Jesse Faden, the new director of the FBC as she learns about the building, the FBC, and the mysteries surrounding all the crazy shit happening. There are just weird things happening all over the place here, even though you just learned about Control, people see you as their boss because you hold an Object of Power in your hand, the previous boss’ service weapon. As you walk around the deserted halls and open areas of the building, members of the organization are just floating in mid air, while creepy voices whisper around you. In other parts of the building, objects with immense power are just wreaking havoc in some pretty incredible ways. Even with all that happening, the main story beat involves you looking for your missing brother and trying to find out what happened to him.

Doing back flips at work

The story and premise are really interesting and kept me going throughout the journey. I would have liked more clarity in what was/is actually happening in the story, but leaving a little of it out opens it up to the DLC and supposed sequel(s).

The game itself is a metroidvania. You have this large environment that is gated off to you. To get past these gates you need a new item or power. As you progress through the story, more of these keys are available to you, so you get to explore more of the world. It’s a great frame for the narrative of the game. You get to know the building just as Jesse does, by traveling through its halls, reading the signs pointing you to a new department. Everything is logically laid out, for the most part, and it makes you feel like a new person in this company.

Old tech is so cringe

Audio Logs…

Oh! Okay, let’s talk about audio logs and collectibles since they are there to tell a large chunk of the overall story in Control. I don’t think they are done well at all. As you go around the building, you pick up case files and recording from different people that work at the FBC, it helps fill out the story and tells you about the different things that happen in each department there. That’s all good, in a way, but it also just sucked for me. You start off strong, you read each document right when you pick it up, like a good little director trying to sleuth her way through this puzzle. You get a bit of info and then play the game for a short bit, then you pick up another crumb and repeat. There are just too many of them!

Visual audio logs!

Pause for a quick breakdown (courtesy of IGN wiki).

201 documents
23 audio logs
and others that don’t take up much of your time

The main story of the game is something like 10 hours, more or less. So if you see it like that, you’re basically collecting 20 documents an hour. There are a lot of them and to have to stop and read them becomes a nuisance, for me at least. It’s awesome that it’s all there, I’m down for someone making a YouTube video going over all the juicy story bits that are in them, but it just became way too much. I would have loved for a Bioshock style, where it’s audiologs of various staff members with distinct voices and personalities talking about work they were doing for the bureau. They could also just have Jesse read the files as she’s wandering through the building, perhaps adding her own insight into what she’s reading. That would work better to maintain the flow of the game.

Nod to the past

Combat

I enjoyed the combat in the game, fighting the enemy called the Hiss. Jesse is a fun and powerful character to have control over, pun intended. She could throw objects using her powers, or even pick up enemies and chuck them across the room as you watch the environment go to shit around you as tables blow through windows and desks. The destruction system really adds to the impact of combat. Your gun, while not as powerful, is fun to upgrade and shoot at enemies. To really get a handle on the enemies you need to mix up your gun and your power abilities because they are both limited and need time to recharge. That means it becomes a seesaw of going back and forth and finding the right balance. Enemy encounters can really fuck you up if you don’t have your head in the fight and just run into a room. You will die quickly if you’re not backing up, using walls as cover and managing the amount of enemies with a shot at you. The game isn’t that difficult, if you’re smart about it it wont give you much of a challenge outside a few of the optional bosses, which you should probably save until endgame when you have things leveled up anyways.

Did a little damage, destructible environments

Tidbits

One of the best little stories in this game had to do with a refrigerator. Let’s just say that someone has to watch it at all times or shit will go down. And since the building has been going through some turmoil, like a quarantine and most of the staff incapacitated or dead. Just perhaps the guard rotation didn’t go down on time. That poor guy, sitting there in front of the fridge, unable to look away…

Such a good side story

PC Gaming

The loading times for this game are pretty great actually, I played on my PC with the game installed to an NVME drive. The loading times between floors was about 5 seconds and going from one place on a floor to a place on the same floor was almost instantaneous. This made roaming around at the end of the game and completing side quests and doing a little extra exploring a lot more enjoyable. Not sure I would have liked it as much if I had to wait a minute to just check a place out. I can’t wait for the next-generation of consoles, should be nice.

Welcome, to the real world

End Game

After finishing the game, I did end up doing a few side missions but stopped before completing everything. I did do the optional bosses and a few other story quests that I felt were enjoyable. I guess it’s a good thing that the Epic store doesn’t have trophies tied to their games just yet. If this was on PS4 I’m pretty sure I would have stuck around even longer to get the platinum. I did get the game for “free” with the purchase of my graphics card, so I think I’ll support the developers when the time comes and pick up the DLC since I liked it so much and want to see where the story goes.

Back to the daily grind

Final Score – 8.9

I really appreciate the story and creativity of this game. I’d also applaud the developers for making a game with a unique and compelling narrative, it seems so rare today. The concept of objects of power and how they interact with the world, the Oldest House itself, and the way it all joins together is really interesting and makes you want to learn more. Can’t wait to jump into this world again at some point.

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