Menu

Control Review – Darling, I’m In AWE of You

Control, developed by Remedy Entertainment and published by 505 games, is a war between left brain and right brain. At times, it seemed the biggest conflict in the game was its technical prowess vs. certain creative vulnerabilities. Control constantly makes you ask “Why?” and “How?” at the wrong times and say, “Whoa, that’s awesome!” at the right times.

After playing the game, it’s so easy to see how this could’ve been the game to end all games this year. There are still plenty of games to come this year, but this one could’ve cemented its legacy quickly before we saw any of the others. Unfortunately, it’s too easy to see where and when the team phoned it in a bit. There are widespread issues where you just can’t help but wonder if the developers really thought things through properly. These issues span from respawn and checkpoint inconsistencies, which are sometimes coupled with irritating load times, to character development, rough animations, AI, etc.

 

Respawn and Checkpoint Disaster

 

I purposely stuck “respawn and checkpoint inconsistencies” at the top because while the other issues probably contribute much more to the game’s incompleteness, this one will simply ruin your enjoyment. In a game where combat is extremely important to the game’s success and likability, you’d think the respawn system and checkpoints would make more sense. As you travel through the Federal Bureau of Control as Jesse Faden to stop The Hiss, a supernatural entity trying to take over the agency, you find Control Points. These are used for fast travel between points, crafting personal and weapon mods, and upgrading Jesse. They also act as respawn points whenever you die.

Control Point

Unfortunately, for combat-challenged individuals like myself, checkpoints are scarce in this game, so when you respawn at these, the fight you died in resets and you have to do it all again, no matter how far you got. While this in and of itself is common and has no bearing on the game’s overall quality, the fact that once you die you have to sit through 60 seconds of a loading screen, respawn at a point a certain distance away, and run another 60 seconds until you finally get back to the fight just in time to die again is a glaring error by Remedy. This goes without mentioning that often you’ll have to go through other meaningless enemies that spawn in certain areas in order to get back to where you were. Why they decided to go with this system as opposed to a traditional checkpoint system is beyond me. It makes the simple act of respawning and trying to play the game tedious and frustrating.

You additionally have to deal with some nonsensical checkpoints here and there. Most of the time, there are no checkpoints, only mission updates that generally take some time to get to. However, the game will then choose to change it up and give you a single checkpoint in between major parts of large fights, but when it does this, it chooses to divide checkpoints by objective instead of difficulty. What I mean is while the first “half” of the fight is rather easy and actually only took five or ten minutes to complete. The second “half” is significantly more difficult and requires maybe 20 or 25 minutes to complete, and that’s if you survive the whole way through. There are other times when the game will respawn you immediately and not penalize you for falling to your death, but then it’ll send you back to the start of the fight if you die at the hands of an enemy. There is just very little consistency in this respect.

 

Combat

 

Despite checkpoints and respawns, combat is extremely fast-paced and satisfying. Very few games can match Control here. Jesse has tons of ways to approach combat. The Service Weapon gives you so many options by itself being five guns in one. It’s such a unique and interesting take on weapon and ammo management. The gun has a charge as opposed to ammo and recharges itself automatically when not being fired. However, much like weapons in Mass Effect, when the charge is completely spent, you must wait for it to be fully charged before using it again. There’s another interesting spin with the ammo not resetting as you change from one gun form to another. Your weapon shots become so much more important this way, especially when deciding which form to use against which enemies in specific situations.

Control Combat

Couple this with some telekinetic powers and you got yourself one hell of a fight. The abilities to levitate, launch objects towards enemies, and evade attacks make for diverse combat. For example, Launch can be used for massive shield damage or one-shot kills on some enemies; Levitate comes in handy for leveling the playing field against aerial enemies. Experimentation isn’t just encouraged, it’s required!

What’s even more impressive is how smooth and flawless it all is. I’m happy to say that I personally didn’t run into a single bug or glitch the entire game. All of this makes Control one of the most technically impressive games of the year. Exuberant amounts of time and effort shine through the combat, making the game flashy, satisfying, exhilarating, and nail-biting. There’s nothing like full immersion when facing mobs of enemies. For a while, you forget you’re playing a game.

The enemies are all drastically different, so there’s even more fun to be had while figuring out what works and what doesn’t against the many enemy types. You walk into an area and don’t know whether to expect a rocket to the face or a giant rock to the… well, face again. Unfortunately, it’s sad to see such a promising game resort to the Spider-Man version of AI. Remedy tried tremendously to hide their slow and unimpressive AI behind dozens of enemies of all different types and abilities. You want me to be frank? It sucks. Clashing with enemies is still fun, but this discredit’s the talented team working on the game. Quantity over quality is rarely a good idea with AI, and unfortunately, it appears far too often in today’s games.

 

Story and Characters

 

The narrative actually takes shelter under a similar roof. There’s so much to the plot, but did anybody give the script a look before deciding to create it? It’s a wonder that any of the characters exist at all. They’re all extremely underdeveloped. There isn’t a single NPC with any ounce of intrigue besides Dr. Darling, but the end to his story here is rather drab and disappointing. Ahti also has some fascinating traits, but they don’t really go anywhere. Jesse herself has multiple motivations which will always give another layer to a character, but her character goes through some pretty sudden changes that aren’t particularly profound or enlightening. As we discover the true story behind the FBC throughout the game, Jesse just seems along for the ride. Every once in a while, she reminds us that she’s looking for her brother, Dylan, but you can’t help but just feel totally disconnected from her throughout the game. Courtney Hope’s portrayal of her is rather flat and uninspired with little drama or stakes. At the end of the day, the complex story behind what happened and how feels fascinating but inconsequential to the game itself. The story gives a minimalist context for the combat, but that’s about it.

Control Dialogue

 

Atmosphere

 

It’s fortunate that this doesn’t take away from the atmosphere. Lighting was another stellar aspect of this game that often leaves you grasping at words trying to find the right ones. Flashing images, bright red rooms, dark corridors, and a vast emptiness all give you a sense of dread and curiosity. It makes you want to explore the facility despite it, again, being devastatingly somber, creepy, and empty. The background is told through what you find around the facility in the way of documents and recordings. While this is the worst way of expressing lore in a video game, Control thankfully doesn’t hinge on it for the story. Most revelations and plot advancements are told in Jesse’s head, and, what’s better, the effects are on full display in the world. You want the story? Look around you. Do some searching and digging. Everything worth knowing is right in front of your eyes, and it’s all destructible during combat. It’s all quite beautiful and creative.

I so desperately want to leave it at that last sentence, but there’s so much still missing. I wish this game was worked on for two more years and given to us in full force. All of the aforementioned downfalls are bad enough, but the game is also plagued with terrible mouth animations, no fascinating dialogue choices, no cover system where you could really use one, and a frustrating lack of proper setting outside of the FBC.

There’s no telling what this game could’ve been with some more time and thought, but what it is is a sophisticated and exciting game filled with a rush of adrenaline despite missing opportunities with its characters and moment-to-moment quality.

This review of Control is based on the PC version. A review code was provided by the publisher.

 

Control, developed by Remedy Entertainment and published by 505 games, is a war between left brain and right brain. At times, it seemed the biggest conflict in the game was its technical prowess vs. certain creative vulnerabilities. Control constantly makes you ask "Why?" and "How?" at the wrong times and say, "Whoa, that's awesome!" at the right times. After playing the game, it's so easy to see how this could've been the game to end all games this year. There are still plenty of games to come this year, but this one could've cemented its legacy quickly before we saw…

0

User Rating: No Ratings Yet !
  • 7/10
    Score - 7/10
7.0/10

Summary

A sophisticated and exciting game filled with a rush of adrenaline despite missing opportunities with its characters and moment-to-moment quality.

One comment

  1. Alduizard says:

    Agreed with your points. Darling was my fav character, but its also probably bcz all other characters were very one dimensional. The checkpoints in this game are frustrating as hell as you rightly pointed out.

1 Pings/Trackbacks for "Control Review – Darling, I’m In AWE of You"
  1. […] themselves in sparse white text that pulsates across the screen (a rather common type of formatting this year), but otherwise, mechanics are entirely elaborated on through a series of efficient interfaces. For […]

Leave a Reply

Newsletter

Halo: Reach Coming to PC on December 3

Halo fans can rejoice, as Halo: Reach will be releasing on PC on December 3 as the first part of the PC release of the Master Chief Collection. This news…

November 14, 2019, 67
Mass Effect 3 Cover Art

Top 10 Games of 2012 – The Year of Kicking Ass and Chewing Bubble Gum

For those of you who don’t know, no, there was no Duke Nukem game that released in 2012, but most of these titles did all of the kicking ass and chewing…

November 12, 2019, 154

Romancing SaGa 3 Remaster Released Everywhere

Romancing SaGa 3 was released exactly 24 years ago, on 11/11/1995. To celebrate this arbitrary anniversary, publisher Square Enix has released a remaster of the classic RPG for Nintendo Switch,…

November 11, 2019, 82
PlayStation 4 controller

PlayStation Opening a New Development Studio in Malaysia

2020 is going to be a big year for PlayStation, so we should start seeing significant expansion from the company. Following the promotion of Guerrilla Games’ founder Hermen Hulst as…

November 8, 2019, 125

Guerrilla Games’ Hermen Hulst Becomes Head of SIE Worldwide Studios

PlayStation has found its replacement for Shawn Layden. Hermen Hulst, the managing director at Guerrilla Games, was announced to be the new head of Sony Interactive Entertainment Worldwide Studios. The…

November 7, 2019, 674
Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

Top 10 Games of 2011 – The Year of Nostalgia

Next up in our look back at the previous decade is 2011, a year full of games that are generally associated with their nostalgic qualities and atmospheres. One of the…

November 6, 2019, 249
Terry and Mario in Smash

Terry Bogard Joins the Smash Bros. Ultimate Roster Today

Fans of Fatal Fury and Super Smash Bros. don’t need to wait any longer. In today’s Smash Bros. Ultimate presentation, hosted by Mr Sakurai, it was announced that Terry Bogard…

November 6, 2019, 150
Doom Eternal Helmet

Rumor: DOOM Slayer Next Smash Bros. Ultimate Fighter

UPDATE: While the leaks mentioned in this article have not been 100% disproven, the predicted Mii Fighter costumes and the supposed new “Online mode” were not mentioned with the release of…

November 5, 2019, 412
Terry Bogard Smash Direct

Terry Bogard Is Getting a Mighty 45 Minute Livestream for Smash Bros.

Back in September, we learned that Fatal Fury’s Terry Bogard would be the next DLC fighter to join the roster of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The wait to see him…

November 5, 2019, 196

The Textorcist Available on Mac App Store

Back at this year’s PAX East, I got to play The Textorcist, Morbidware’s gothic fusion of bullet hell and typing game. You can read more in the linked article, but to…

November 4, 2019, 141