X-Files meets Twin Peaks in a cauldron of strange with delights and surprises at every turn
US Street Price$22.99
–> Amazingly crafted game world |
–> An intriguing and engaging plot |
–> Tight open-world design |
–> Really fun gameplay loop |
–> Powers and abilities which are fun and finely tuned |
–> An atmospheric and technical showcase |
–> A showcase for Nvidia’s Raytracing technology
–> Relies too heavily on combat at times |
–> Interesting puzzle mechanics are only briefly touched upon
Control feels like a Freudian slip. It takes familiar gaming concepts and ideas but dresses them up in an intriguing, captivating world that’s rich in lore. In an industry where it has become increasingly routine to ease players into a game while holding their hands throughout, Control goes on the offensive from the outset.
It presents players with confrontation right from the start, posing a lot of questions but never giving any easy answers. It bears a passing resemblance with Remedy’s previous title – Quantum Break but Control handles its mysteries more obtusely and isn’t afraid to build-up to the answers, even if it means keeping the players at an arm’s length.
A trip within the fantastic
Without spoiling anything, from the opening minute when you step into the offices of the Federal Bureau of Control to the fantastical closing moments, your trip within ‘The Oldest House’ remains memorable.
It is a world where old ‘Floppy Disks’ containing old Russian nuclear codes become ‘objects of power’ and are capable of hurling objects at great speeds across a room. It’s a world where a Janitor fights his nemesis, The Clog, and light switch cords transport you to a world with a talking inverted pyramid and endless stretches of nothing but white.
Remedy remains committed to this well-crafted surreal experience throughout filling out the rest of the world with collectables like videos, notes of correspondence and audio logs of employees – normal field agents who work with the supernatural, some of whom find themselves floating lifelessly around the house, under threat from an otherworldly force known as ‘The Hiss’.
You play as Jesse Faden, a woman in search of something and clearly not ‘all there’. She finds herself appointed the new director of the Bureau of Control seemingly within minutes and everyone around her knows who she is. Jesse is also immune to ‘The Hiss’ and can cleanse points of control within the house to keep threats at bay.
You as a ‘Player’ are kept in the dark and as the pulpy, sci-fi twists start coming, Control keeps finding a way to surprise you again and again.
An open-world worth exploring
Unlike previous linear adventures like Alan Wake, Max Payne or Quantum Break, Control is Remedy’s first foray into a more non-linear experience. Its open-world is free to explore but structured where grabbing key items allows you to explore a bit further into areas previously locked behind a barrier.
As Jesse, you slowly unlock and obtain new powers and abilities becoming more powerful in the process. As you fight enemies, you accumulate points to spend on upgrading your abilities. Control also makes use of standard open-world tropes like side-missions and unique challenges but they never feel tiresome or boring thanks to the excellent, dynamic combat system. As Director, you also wield a ‘service weapon’ that starts out as a glorified pistol but has more unlockable forms that can be created once you have enough materials.
Jesse can also augment her weapon and abilities through unique weapon and personal mods that grant her a perk once activated. The control points you cleanse act as Fast-travel stations allowing you to travel freely within the house and also help you enhance your abilities.
Without ‘The Old House’, Control could have just as easily been another ‘open-world’ game but Remedy’s expert hand at crafting believable worlds makes it genuinely exciting to discover what’s around the next corner.
The enemies you fight also receive the same care and attention to detail, with unique enemy types that keep each encounter fresh and the player on their toes.
Jesse herself will become no less than a superhero by the time the game is ready to wind down, She can eventually gain the ability to fly and to quickly dash out of danger in a second. She can pick up and throw objects with ease and mind-control weaker enemies to do her bidding. She can bring up psychic barriers to protect herself and deflect enemy projectiles back at them.
A large part of the gameplay loop involves using these powers in conjunction with your service weapon to demolish your foes. You are also encouraged to keep moving and not stay in one place for too long unless you want a lead salad with that order of fries.
When you are fully powered up, Control becomes a blast to play, as you deviously dodge in and out of enemy range before sending down an assault. The powers themselves also feel super fun to use in combat, ripping an entire computer terminal to smash a foe’s head in never got old.
Outside of combat, there are some interesting puzzles to solve but its clear Remedy wanted this to be an action game first.
A unique showcase for Nvidia’s Raytracing tech
Nvidia’s RTX Raytracing technology has slowly been gaining momentum, as the company partners with more developers to bring them on-board with the tech. So far, Nvidia lacked a showcase title one that convinces people to accept the trade-off between the performance and quality while investing in an expensive new GPU.
With Control, Nvidia might have found that title. Remedy has always been known for its cutting technology and Nvidia’s RTX partnership only enhances the already strong visuals on offer. Remedy has implemented almost the entire Raytracing feature set to complement the visuals, there are Raytraced reflections, diffuse lighting, contact shadows and even Raytraced debris.
Control’s sterile workplaces with long corridors and reflective floors look incredible and things only improve once things start getting weirder. Remedy’s strong and atmospheric artistic flourishes work in tandem with Raytracing to deliver something unique, it looks good without it but with it, the experience is heightened considerably.
The combat sequences in particular benefit a ton from RTX hardware and taking part in the chaos as things blow up around you while accurate reflections and shadows dance around you is truly a sight to behold. You are going to need a beefy system to run all the bells and whistles at a playable framerate, our RTX 2080 Super never had any problems with performance but we found ourselves turning on DLSS and using the Medium preset for Raytracing on the good old RTX 2070.
Even at medium settings, Raytracing is something that is beautifully implemented in Control and enhances the strong artistic direction of the game.
Fire Walk with Control
Control is one of 2019’s best games and an important one for Remedy. It makes me want to fire up all Remedy games in my library for a second playthrough and is an expertly handled experience from start to finish. Trust me, even if you hate the Epic launcher, this is one game well worth investing your time into.
Control is available on the PS4 and Xbox One for Rs. 3499 and exclusively on the Epic Games Store for the PC for $22.99 (approx. Rs 1,649).