Control review - welcoming us to the astral plane
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Control Review – Welcoming us to the Astral Plane

Control /kənˈtrəʊl/ noun; the power to influence or direct people’s behavior or the course of events.

Remedy are known for developing cinematic blockbusters that push the boundaries of cinematics, immersion and story-telling. Control is no different. At first glance, Control appears to be a sci-fi action-adventure game that integrates supernatural elements with high-paced gunplay, but as Control’s story begins to unfold you begin to appreciate Remedy’s talents of not only telling a story, but also their ability to developing a game that doesn’t rely on current trends or big-name IP. Remedy stick to their guns and deliver an experience that is worthy of the big screen.

Control revolves around a secretive agency based in New York called The Federal Bureau of Control – a secretive government organization dedicated to the capture, containment and research of paranatural objects and phenomena. The Bureau Headquarters is located within The Oldest House- an austere, brutalist building in the middle of Manhattan that despite its physical appearance, is a vast Place of Power that endlessly reflects, replicates and distorts all materials in its location.

Control review - welcoming us to the astral plane

Due to its shifting and unbalanced nature, The Bureau has established a number of Control Points within the building to maintain balance. Loose control of these Control Points and who knows what strange dimensions can seep in. The Oldest House has been infested by an otherworldly threat known as The Hiss. This Hiss have invaded deep into The Oldest House, controlling a number of key Control Points and consuming everyone in its path. You play as Jesse Faden, a strong, determined protagonist that is gifted with supernatural powers she gained from a mysterious event during her childhood. Jesse arrives at The Bureau desperate for answers of not only her past, but also the truth about her missing brother, Jason.

Control review - welcoming us to the astral plane

You arrive to an empty building, well not exactly empty… you’re welcomed by lifeless, levitating bodies that have been affected by The Hiss. Amongst the dark shadows you are drawn to a voice, the voice of a man named Zachariah Trench. As you approach his voice a gunshot is heard… he’s dead, apparent suicide.

At first glance the weapon appears to be an ordinary handgun, but you soon realize this weapon isn’t meant for this reality. Instead, the weapon is an Object of Power that is only meant for the Director. This Object of Power is a Service Weapon that only Directors can bind.

Control review - welcoming us to the astral plane
Has anyone ever wanted a floppy disk this much? Ever?

What does this mean? Are you the new Director? Did the Hiss kill Trench? Where is Jason? All you know is that you’re trapped in the Bureau’s HQ and you must regain Control.

The core components of Control revolve around Jesse’s paranormal abilities and the use of your Service Weapon. These abilities evolve throughout the game and range from the use of Telekinesis to Launch objects at enemies, to being able to Levitate to gain an aerial advantage over your enemies. A total of 6 abilities can be acquired throughout the game, each ability can be upgraded to increase its effect and cause more fun chaos.

Your Service Weapon can morph into various forms that can also be equipped with various Weapon Mods to customize your Service Weapon depending on your playstyle. Initially your Service Weapon is a single-fire supernatural pistol, the Grip. Soon enough your Service Weapon will evolve into a SMG-like weapon capable of high-fire rate or shotgun-like weapon with devastating stopping power. There’s a total of 5 unique morphing abilities for your Service Weapon that will benefit you throughout the game.

Control review - welcoming us to the astral plane
Sometimes you just have to admire beauty. Oh, and the bodies…

All these abilities and weapon morphs allow you customize the game to suit your own gamestyle. I found myself combining a mixture of fast-paced ‘run n gun’ style of Telekinesis and gunplay, weakening my enemies with my rapid-fire SMG Service Weapon and finishing them off by launching various objects in their direction.

Control review - welcoming us to the astral plane
Never knew a dump could look so beautiful

As I unlocked all of my abilities, I found myself adapting my playstyle to a more all-round playstyle as I would use my Seize ability on key enemies, drawing their allegiance to fight along my side. This allowed me to Levitate to advantageous positions, scouting out my enemies and surroundings and use this knowledge to my advantage – Launching dangerous objects at key enemies and then Slamming down from above for devastating burst damage.

This is where my Service Weapon would come into play as I could gun down enemies while my abilities recharged, sometime just enough to deploy my Shield to escape when in a dangerous position. I loved the somewhat chaotic carnage, high risk-high reward gameplay style that Control allowed me to implement. As soon as I focused too much on offense, I was dead. A friendly reminder that despite all of Jesse’s powerful abilities, you are not immortal and you will die.

Control review - welcoming us to the astral plane
Dammit, I forgot my sunglasses
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Written by Shaun Grimley

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