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Feature Article

Remedy's Control Taps Into The Dark Side Of Science Fiction

Where are we now?

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If I showed you a cube you probably wouldn't think twice about it. But if I told you that cube contained a mysterious object, I'm willing to bet your imagination would kick into overdrive. Our natural inclination to try to explain the inexpiable is part of what makes us human, and it's a major part of why I'm excited for Remedy Entertainment's new game, Control. Based on what we saw at E3, it's set in a world that plays by strange rules, where hauntingly beautiful distortions wreak havoc on the fabric of reality. I have don't have a firm grasp of what's going on, but I can't help but be drawn into the mystery of it all.

Remedy's reputation as a developer of great action games with compelling stories has never quite faded; even Quantum Break, despite some complications, had many redeeming qualities that its biggest detractors (like me) couldn't ignore. Chief among them was the combat system, which gave you control over time itself, allowing you to slickly thwart swarms of enemies in unusual and flashy ways. These same qualities are echoed in Control's announcement trailer, but what you won't find in that video is the mind-bending series of events I saw during a private gameplay demo at E3.

I'm looking forward to games like Cyberpunk and Death Stranding as much as most people, but Control has quickly become my most anticipated game at the show. Circling back to combat, Control gives off similar vibes to Quantum Break, but a key difference lies in the sort of powers at your fingertips. The two abilities we saw allowed the main character, Jesse Faden, to grab objects strewn around the environment and hurl them at enemies, or bring them close to create a temporary shield. Performing these moves results in chaos as other objects get caught in the crossfire, making each encounter look messy (in a good way.) An eye-catching flurry of special effects helps complete the chaotic spectacle. These are just two of many powers Jesse will acquire throughout her harrowing journey.

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Jesse also wields a gun known as the Director's Pistol, and as you could see in the trailer, it's composed of many small components that can break apart, and we realized in the demo that this was a hint at the gun's ability to change its shape and function. The Director's Pistol, like King Arthur's Excalibur, was described as a weapon that can only be properly wielded by someone worthy of its power. Remedy's devs on location at E3 2018 wouldn't say much more about what it's capable of in the long run; surprises for later, no doubt.

Enemies in Control are--based on what we've seen so far--varying levels of corrupted federal agents, though what exactly has corrupted them in the first place remains one of the game's great mysteries. Some look like typical gun-toting sentries, but the more tainted beings resemble human-like ghouls--pale skinned and erratic, they are far more unpredictable and help sell the strange atmosphere Control's going for. Though all things considered, Control is plenty weird as it is.

Most of the gameplay demo was focused on exploring The Oldest House, which is really just another name for the brutalist headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Control. As Jesse moves from one room to the next, unexpected scenes sharply contrast the harsh angular structure of the building. Whatever has corrupted the agents has also screwed with the compound itself. You will stumble into ruined corridors where missing walls give way to a vortex of clouds and geometric shapes that pulsate and shift, for example. It doesn't make sense, and that's the point. Remedy wants you to forget about logic and embrace the dreamlike construction of the bureau. Jesse's powers extend beyond combat. In our demo, which took place roughly halfway through the game, she could also levitate, and it was astonishing to watch the player soar into the aforementioned clouds, through the surrounding black cubes, and emerge in a new section of the building.

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Jesse has to earn the ability to levitate by acquiring a particular Object of Power, items that are spread throughout the massive and crazy building. These can be found or earned by taking on sidequests. The one example of a sidequest opportunity we saw was disturbing, and it felt awful to see the player move Jesse along for the sake of keeping the demo rolling. She had come across a man behind glass staring at a refrigerator, and when he noticed Jesse, he cried out for help because the only way to prevent the fridge from "deviating," and presumably doing something awful to him, was to look at it. If he fell asleep or looked away, that would presumably mean the end of him. The threat of deviation was obtuse, but the man's fear and stress was clear despite the fact that he was being threatened by an inanimate object.

The level of tension throughout the demo was matched only by the wonder I felt as I watched a predictable setting twist and reform before my eyes. My imagination ran wild, as did questions resulting from the dreamlike series of events that played out before me. Control is a game meant to inspire wild theories from fans about the cause of the world's corruption and how Jesse fits into the bigger picture. I walked out of the room completely impressed by what I'd seen. It was such a stark contrast to the controlled sheen of Quantum Break, such an untethered display of creative madness, that I can only look forward to diving in headlong when Control releases for PS4, PC, and Xbox One next year.

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Peter Brown

Peter is Managing Editor at GameSpot, and when he's not covering the latest games, he's desperately trying to recapture his youth by playing the classics that made him happy as a kid.
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lionheartssj1

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I haven't been able to try Alan Wake or Quantum Break yet, though I've been meaning to. This looks pretty interesting as well.

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Anodyn3

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@lionheartssj1: Alan Wake is incredible. They completely nailed the feeling of being stalked & chased at night in a forest. It’s truly terrifying. And the battle mechanics of using light to “burn” the darkness-shield from enemies before being able to damage them is so well done, it never gets old. The guns (pistol, shotgun, rifle, flare gun) feel badass to use. The story & setting are very Steven King, Twin Peaks-ish & thus, amazing. In my opinion, it’s a all-time top-5 X360 game

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siarhei

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The way she picks up objects and throws them...

Force Unleashed, anyone?

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gamingdevil800

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@siarhei: She kinda looks like Jyn Erso from the back.

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Anodyn3

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Remedy games never disappoint as far as i’m concerned. ‘Quantum Break’ was the $#!% so this is a Day 1 get for me

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RedWave247

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@anodyn3: I REALLY wanted to like Quantum Break, but the TV episode length cutscenes in between each chapter killed it for me. I didn't have the patience to watch them.

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Thelostscribe

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@anodyn3: Agreed, Quantum Break was fantastic, can't wait to play it on Xbox One X, heard it looks like a totally different game.

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Tman08

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I'm still scratching my head why there hasn't been a sequel to Alan Wake.......

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RedWave247

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@tman08: I THINK there's a rights issue that's stopping it. I could be wrong. I know the game was pulled from stores because the music rights expired.

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DARREN636

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@tman08: because it was a massive missed opportunity that promised so much but ultimately stabbed in the heart with drivel ?

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p1p3dream

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@tman08: a real shame too... Alan wake is what put Remedy on the map for me. Quantum break was incredibly detailed and good looking , but lacked some of the odd ball creative flair that made their previous games so enjoyable.

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Barighm

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@tman08: It didn't sell that well and MS doesn't seem interested in doing exclusives unless they're potential megahits.

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Thelostscribe

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@Barighm: It sold well eventually and from what I understand, Remedy owns Alan Wake. On the other hand, Quantum Break I believe is owned by Microsoft.

Either way, most companies want their games to break even, Alan Wake eventually sold 1 or 2 million copies, but it took a year or so. Quantum Break didn't even move a million units from what I understand, which is pretty criminal to me. Remedy are fantastic developers, but they take a long time to develop their games and I'm sure that comes at a premium cost.

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gamingdevil800

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I'm one of the unfortunate souls who tried to play Quantum Break on PC (I partially blame the window's store for those issues though) Hopefully this game is a big step up for remedy.

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PrinceEV

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Edited By PrinceEV

Another game from Remedy another 3rd person shooter. just wondering why they never try other genres. this is seriously getting boring and this game totally looks like a sequel to their previous mediocre title Quantum Break :(

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NeverMore0

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The trailer really didn't tell me much so I'm glad to hear that what you guys saw looked cool. I'll be keeping an eye on this one.

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Cikatriz_ESP

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Looks great, and since I didn’t play Quantum Break I still have absolute faith in Remedy. Still, I’m surprised you’re anticipating this more than games like Cyberpunk and Ghost of Tsushima. I’m anxious to see what you saw.

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deactivated-5bda06edf37ee

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I really love it when developers use physics as a gameplay element, not just a decoration. It makes the gameplay feel really dynamic and emergent (and also immersive). Classic example; gravity gun from Half Life 2 was one of the core reasons why the game was so great.

I'm really, really looking forward to this.

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