It’s become common knowledge around the office that I really enjoy anything relating to the supernatural. I mean, you just have to look at what I use to wear in my old clubbing days to see that I’m a little strange like that.
Fortunately for me, 505 Games has recently published a wonderful little gem that many of us in the office were excited to get our hands on, and it just so happened that I wasn’t currently reviewing anything. Known for powerful stories that aggressively push the player along a defined path, Remedy Entertainment have changed things up with the release of Control; a third person supernatural action game that gives players complete control over how the game progresses and exactly what they wish to unlock.
Playing as Jesse Faden, a young woman seeking answers to her mysterious past, you’ll enter the Oldest House, the headquarters of the secretive Federal Bureau of Control as it is infiltrated by a mysterious and otherworldly force aptly named “The Hiss.” Thrust into the position of Director due to a series of unfortunate events, you’ll be forced to put your newly acquired Service Weapon to good use as you unlock the secrets to your past and master the incredible gifts you received from that fateful event.
The graphics of Control are absolutely incredible and featuring some of the best lighting I have ever experienced in a game thanks to Remedy’s Northlight engine. Control is the first game to feature ray-traced translucent reflections, incorporating the entire scene as opposed to what is only shown on screen.
What this means is that those tiny little details in reflections are much more realistic and move with you as you pan the camera around. It also means that while you might see the reflection of a box or your character in a window, you are able to see through them easily and see what might be lurking on the other side. Combined with beautifully rendered characters and world details, this leads to a feeling of realism, and there were certainly times that I forgot I was playing a game when it came to these small details. I just wish I was using an Xbox that was capable of displaying ultra-high definition content, as I am almost certain I would have mistaken the scenery for real world locations.
The sound effects are equally as good. Going from eerie silence to haunting voices as you progress through the levels; your footsteps the only source of normality the game has to offer. Music is kept to a minimum, with rare instances of a radio dotted around the building which I found helped reduce my own personal stress when I did find one, instead of having an effect on the game or my character. You are generally listening to a symphony of sound effects and hissing voices that perfectly represent a focal point for supernatural powers, while the sharpness of the real world sound effects combined with a cast of extremely talented voice actors helps ground you back to reality.
Gameplay is incredibly smooth with Jesse responding to my controller commands seemingly before I have done anything. Movement did get a little tricky sometime as she seems to enjoying running more than walking, but this is really a non-issue as it just requires you to be a little more purposeful with your controller as opposed to quickly changing directions as you might do in a high speed first person shooter.
I did find on some occasions that I would encounter some apparent glitching while attempting to move Jesse around the map, but I am putting this down to having an OG Xbox One and still using the controller the console came with. Combat is also very strait forward, as with most shooter type games. You start off with basic abilities like running, jumping and shooting, and as you progress through the main story, you’ll eventually unlock the ability to go wandering all throughout the Old House and explore sections where you can unlock even more abilities for Jesse. Abilities such as being able to lift debris and small items into the air surrounding you creating a small shield for yourself when you need it most, or launching that same rubble at someone who is bearing down on you. While you won’t need to unlock every ability on offer to complete the game, they will all certainly help you in the long run, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll enjoy exploring every nook and cranny this strange building has on offer.
As you unlock more locations within the building, reality warps and things begin to get weirder. Dimensions shift and mesh within one-another, seemingly alien technology twists and changes until it resembles something more familiar, leaving behind strange energies that can be harnessed by the player as the seek the truth.
It is in these strange locations that you will unlock more forms for your evolving service weapon, and in these areas that you will learn the secrets to your powers. Modifications also seem to appear more frequently in these areas, and these will allow you to add little perks to Jesse to help you play the way you want. Out of all your abilities though, my favorite has got to be Jesse’s Side arm.
Initially taking the form of “Grip,” a simple semi-automatic pistol, your weapon will grow and evolve with you. As you press through the research sector, your trusty pistol will start to evolve and change its configuration. Unlocking shatter for example drastically changes the appearance of the gun but gives it a shotgun-like spread of bullets heavily damaging multiple enemies in close proximity, while near useless at range. I could go on, but with 5 different forms your Service Weapon can take, I feel its best you find them out for yourself.
Overall, I have to say I really enjoyed the game. These days, it isn’t very often you find a single player game, as more and more developers seem to be jumping on the Esports bandwagon. Remedy Entertainment and 505 Games have remained true to their roots, while delving into new territory by producing a story driven game that is a lot less linear than what is normally on offer.
A beautifully crafted world, combined with chilling scenarios and a haunting array of sound effects lead to a game that is just as enjoyable while playing for the tenth time as it was the first. Just like Jesse and her service weapon, the game world will evolve with you, opening up a whole host of possibilities and game play options for you to enjoy.
- A Beautifully rendered world with gorgeous lighting effects
- Haunting audio
- Play the game your way
- The controls can be a bit touchy if you’re not being precise