CONTROL
It wasn’t a lake. It was the Oldest House.   


REVIEW
By JAY TEE
02/09/19

Your skills will be tested as the varied combat demands a lot of the player. Movement and shooting are excellent.

The voice actors are fantastic across the board, while an absolutely bonkers script and strong soundtrack make for a killer combo.

You’ll want to uncover every hidden area or clue to the overarching mystery. You will care about exploring the world.

Graphically stunning throughout, even if the framerate can hiccup at times, even on more powerful hardware.

THE LAST WORD

Control blends supernatural storytelling with sublime action mechanics to create one of the best games of this generation.

THE FINAL SCORE

5/5

REVIEW POLICY

We use a simple “out of 5” rating criteria for all reviews.

5 out of 5 is FANTASTIC.

To put it simply, something with this rating comes highly recommended, and is pretty much close to perfect.

*Reviewed on Xbox One X, with a copy provided by 505 Games.*


The IT’S A TARP! badge is awarded when a game offers a real challenge.

The PICK N’ MIX badge is awarded for a game that has a wide variety of things to do, and / or continually presents new mechanics / ideas.


The BREAK THE TARGETS badge is for a game that has excellent side quests and/or optional missions and activities.

The KILLSTEAK badge is for a game where wins / kills are really satisfying.

The SET PHASERS TO STUN badge is for a game with a playable sequence that will leave you in awe.  

The OOBLEH! badge is for a game that has a dodgy or inconsistent framerate.

The CAPTAIN KEYES badge is for a game that has well written characters that leave a lasting impression.


IS IT FUN?

*Yes. And it keeps getting better.*

Earning new abilities organically through the story and level design is a feature I always seek in any narrative based game. The fact that Control is capable of subverting your expectations so regularly, whilst still offering light RPG customisation, is a testament to Remedy’s confidence in their new IP. Everything is designed to empower you, but crucially without dampening the threat level. Infact, Control can be punishing at times, even on standard difficulty, but you always feel like you can make it, even if some chaotic improvisation is required. There’s optional dialogue, secret rooms, and a whole manner of quests off the beaten path that will keep you coming back for more. The Oldest House is forever throwing new ideas your way, and from a pure engagement perspective, Control pays off your willingness to invest in spades.

Control is mesmerising in its innate weirdness; a true love letter to Twin Peaks and Remedy’s own cult classic Alan Wake. It is so fiercely confident in its premise, characters, and world building that you can’t help but gawp at the ambition. The camera work and visuals are both top notch, and although the story goes out of its way to baffle at times, you can be confident in the knowledge that something interesting is almost certainly lurking around the next destructible filing cabinet. There’s a mainline path, side distractions, a ton of collectibles… Deus Ex style memo’s and e-mails are even present and accounted for! Remedy have outdone themselves here. Most importantly, the core loop of exploration and combat is hugely satisfying, with a pleasing mixture of enemy types complimenting your ever evolving abilities.  

MEMORABLE MOMENTS?

*Loads. And often when you least expect it.*

Falling through the floor into a trippy new environment that grants you a fresh power. Messing around with the physics engine and marvelling at the destruction. An unsettling cutscene or story beat that puts you on edge. Control is filled with water cooler moments that we won’t spoil here (of course), but needless to say, the pacing and set pieces are masterfully assembled. This is full blown Remedy; the tight shooting mechanics of Max Payne, with the (borderline bonkers) narrative ambition of Alan Wake. A delicious hybrid of “oh wow, I can’t believe I killed a possessed soldier with a desk chair”, to “triangles have never looked so enticing”. I have been spamming the Xbox One X capture button every time I pulled off an unscripted moment of chaos, and it’s to Control’s credit that reviewing these moments back is just as impactful as playing through them in the moment.

The FBC are the good guys. OR ARE THEY?! This is needless teasing. They’re on your side. OR…

ANNOYING STUFF?

*Minimal, but performance can be spotty at times.*  

For a game that is so artistically bold, it’s a shame that the framerate doesn’t always keep up. I have to say, this doesn’t happen when you’d expect (large environments or intense combat), but rather in moments of calm as you’re transitioning to a new area, or following an auto save / menu interaction. It can be quite jarring, especially when everything else about Control is so polished. I’m also not a fan of the map, which lacks clarity at times, but these are really minor nitpicks and absolutely did not spoil my experience whatsoever. In fact, these observations are hardly tied to fundamental mechanics, and could just as easily be patched out in future updates. A day 1 patch was deployed to address some of the framerate issues (since we received our copy before launch), so progress is already being made on this front.

NEXT STEPS?

*Keep building on this superb foundation.*

We already know that two substantial pieces of narrative DLC are in the pipeline. There’s a lot of potential for Remedy to expand the scope of the world, perhaps to other locations? I really do believe this is the start of something special. They have been trusted with the keys to this castle, and clearly made the game they wanted to make. Publisher 505 Games’ hands off approach appears to have paid off tremendously. Looking ahead, if sales match the calibre of review scores, we could be looking at sequels, more downloadable expansions, perhaps even new modes? A horde style mode with these combat mechanics could be a fantastic distraction between more substantial updates. Bottom line: there’s a lot they could do with this IP, and it deserves all of the praise it has been receiving.

THE BASICS - Third person shooter, with lots of paranormal activity and robust physics.     

PLATFORMS - PS4, XB1, and PC

MAX PLAYERS - Offline - 1, Online - 0

CO-OP? MULTIPLAYER? - None.

DOWNLOADABLE CONTENT - There are some alternate costumes, and two upcoming premium story expansions.  

TARPS? - At the bottom of all our reviews, you’ll see a series of absurd looking images (with equally stupid, in joke laden names). These are the TARP badges, which represent our ‘Totally Accurate Rating Platform’. They allow us to identify specific things, recognise positive or negative aspects of a games design, and generally indulge our consistent silliness with some visual tomfoolery.

The combination of light, physics based puzzle solving and satisfying gun play is a killer combo.

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