Control starts off in innocent fashion. The main protagonist, Jesse, walks into a building for her job interview. No one’s around. Once you start exploring, it’s really not long until things start to get, to put it simply, weird.
You can tell early on that you’ll be in for quite a psychological thriller. It’s like this game was directed by Stanley Kubrick. One moment everything seems normal, and the next everything looks like it goes to hell!
First thing I need to talk about the game’s style and aesthetics. When I saw gameplay footage before the game’s release, and also when I started playing it, it all looked a bit average. I mean, an ordinary looking building with bland industrial areas, there wasn’t much in the way of eye candy.
But when things take a turn psychologically, that’s when things take a turn visually. The lighting plays a big part, where the bright red lights give it a real horror vibe, and suddenly things don’t look so bland anymore. When you’re learning a new ability, or gaining a new Object of Power, you’re taken to these mysterious looking areas, with bright white backdrop and almost alien architecture which is reminiscent of Destiny.
You’ll also notice human bodies just floating in mid-air, just to freak you out some more. It’s great how the devs have taken an ordinary setting, and made it interesting, both visually and atmospherically.
This is some of the most fun combat you’ll experience this year. Everything from the feel of the controls, to the gun sound effects, everything is done with such polish.
One thing you’ll notice is the destructible environments. There’s nothing better than having a full-blown gun fight, only to see the area totally destroyed from the battle that took place. It makes you feel like you’ve survived an epic struggle.
You have a variety of weapon types that suit different situations, such as the Scatter or Spin guns, which resemble the shotgun and machine gun respectively. These weapons can be upgraded and modded, just to add some kind of development to the gameplay.
Throughout the game, Jesse gains various special abilities that help both in and out of combat. But in combat, it’s an absolute blast! You can grab so many objects scattered around and launch them at enemies. You can levitate around to get better angles (but at the same time, expose yourself). There’s even more out there, and it really just elevates the gameplay so much!
Outside of combat, you’ll need to use your powers for some problem solving. They were never difficult and didn’t occur as often as I would have liked, but it was good to see some non-combat use for them. Plus your abilities can be upgraded, just like your weapons, so you can focus on the ones you like best.
But even if there were no abilities, the game would still be fun, but their inclusion helps this game really stand out from the pack.
Lately with so many games I’ve played, side missions have been nothing more than filler. To me, side missions should be short stories, or miniature quests. They should each be memorable or distinct, at least that’s how I prefer them. I also believe they should never feel like chores.
Control does side missions brilliantly! I felt each time I started one, I was excited to see what lay ahead. Control has a habit of remaining weird, mysterious, and unpredictable, and that’s exactly what the side missions were like!
Some ended in boss fights (hard ones too), but I always felt like I achieved something important when I completed them, and the rewards I earned were more of a bonus than anything.
There’s not a huge amount of them, but I would always prefer a small amount of memorable/fun side missions, than hundreds of boring fillers.
Story and Storytelling
From the very start, you know you’re going to be experiencing a mind-bending, and most likely confusing, storyline. It really doesn’t take long before things start to get weird and it doesn’t stop at all.
On the downside, things get a bit too abstract and you’ll struggle to understand what’s going on. This is amplified by the fact that the game uses a lot off unusual terminology that you’ll need to get your head around to at least try to understand what’s going on.
But on the upside, everything I’ve mentioned also makes the story compelling because the game does a great job of keeping you guessing. Like I said of the side missions, the main missions are also unpredictable and you don’t know what’s going to happen next.
You’ll also find additional collectibles around that give you extra pieces of lore. While I don’t mind more story being told through text like this, the sheer amount of collectibles was ridiculous! There’s around 250 collectibles and the majority of them are text based, and in a game that’s relatively small, you find them in almost every room you enter.
I just didn’t like constantly stopping and starting, especially when I just wanted to get on with it, only to ANOTHER collectible to read. I know it’s all optional, but because it’s an interesting story, I wanted to learn more about it. It just disrupted the gameplay too often for my liking, and to be honest, I was still confused by a lot of the story anyway and had to resort to looking online for clarification after I finished it all.
Now I’ve been mostly positive about this game so far, but it’s not perfect, and there were a couple of things that held it back from true greatness.
I already talked about the excessive amounts of collectibles just before. It’s fine to have a lot of extra lore, but surely there was a more efficient way to go about it.
My other main issue was how useless the map was. Maybe use it as a rough guide, but not to go exactly where you need to go. A lot of areas are multi-story, and the map just shows everything in one clump. If you’re trying to get from one room to another, the map be more misleading than anything, and I did get frustrated quite a few times trying to get around.
When you think of maps from other games, like Resident Evil 2, they’re laid out so clearly it helps makes exploration more fun because you’re not wasting time looking at blank walls where the map says there should a doorway.
But I will admit my criticisms are fairly minor and didn’t detract too much from the fun overall.
You looking for a paranormal, sci-fi action game? This is the game for you! I can guarantee you haven’t played anything quite like this before.
It has a unique style and atmosphere, one that immediately draws you in. The combat is some of the most fun you’ll have this year. Both the gunplay and special abilities are polished and each battle is a thrill.
The story is full of mystery and will keep you invested, even if it can be a bit confusing at times, especially with the in-game terminology. The side missions are just as much of a standout as the main story, with each one containing an interesting and unique storyline, and I always looked forward to each one.
Exploration was one of the weaker elements of the game, as it did get a little frustrating at times getting to where you needed to go.
While it’s a relatively short game, I still recommend this to anyone, as it’s one of the better games this year.