Control (Day One PS4 Edition)
Remedy Entertainment has long been on my MVP list with their stellar hit series Syphon Filter from the PS1 & PS2 generations. So, to say that I have always been a huge fan of their work is somewhat of an understatement. That being said, for many years the studio has pretty much been out of the public's eye and in the dark about what their current project being developed was. And in comes Jesse Faden, the badass chick & very likeable protagonist from Control. Is Control going to have as huge of an impact as the superior Syphon Filter classics did on me in the past? Probably not, however that in no way takes anything away from this incredibly detailed and brilliant experience found in the games only locale, the Oldest House. So, after playing Control, I can attest to my opinion of the game being worth the wait.
Remedy has went on the record many times when summarizing the game dubbing it new weird genre. Clearly wearing it's inspirations heavily on it's shoulders, the games bizarre & unsettling events that transpire throughout whilst Jesse Faden explores the Oldest House, or the Federal Bureau Of Controls main HQ, is a one of a kind experience. Jesse is suddenly and mysteriously thrust into the position of Director of the (Bureau of Control), and while their work is extremely unconventional & shady to say the least, the Bureau's core purpose is the managing/containment of the many Altered Items or strange/paranormal phenomena to the HQ or as everyone calls it, the Oldest House. While even Jesse is unsure about what led to her mysterious and sudden promotion to this position that she has no experience nor clue as to what that entails, she nevertheless finds that all her answers are indeed somewhere in the ever changing walls of the Oldest House & it's Hiss occupants. The Hiss is games version of paranormal aggressors, which can come in many varying types, sizes & forms. The Hiss has already took out the majority of the staff that used to fill the Oldest Houses halls, and it soons become clear that nothing will be as it seems in this incredible dimension. As Jesse Faden seeks answers to these questions regarding the Bureaus goal and personal questions related to her foggy past, the one thing that is clear to her is that to reach them, she must roam the deepest reaches of the Oldest House and find some of the living staff members & team together to take back the workplace from the Hiss. I will get into all this in more detail as I go, but the main thing that impresses everyone who plays this game is the intricate design of the building from which the whole game takes place. You may be discouraged to hear that the games only setting is one vast building, but fret not, the Oldest House is as far from a "normal" building as you can possibly imagine. Constantly changing and adapting to the movements of Jesse, the House itself becomes just as central a character as the Hiss itself. Spanning many different floors with all kinds of different research departments, there is no unit or floor that looks the same. It is a unique yet incredibly creative form of art and I can do nothing but simply applaud Remedy's specific vision on what the set pieces are to look like. The Oldest House is an identity all of it's own.
Ok, but getting back to other facets of the game, not only will Jesse adapt and grow in your time spent with her, she also becomes Hiss Public Enemy No 1 after she discovers that the role of Director of the Bureau entitles you to an arsenal of paranormal but highly effective guns that dispense her newfound focus energy, instead of real ammo. In other words, the guns on Control all have unlimited ammunition the moment you get them, and through letting your Energy bar (which is conveniently labeled right by the health bar as well) cool down, the bar will slowly refill allowing you to get back to shooting, dodging which consumes quite a bit of the bar, as well as the other supernatural & telekinetic/levitational skills that are later introduced to her. All the skills use the Energy to consume and will require Jesse to either manage it wisely and use it when necessary and not all the time, or to get out of harms way and remain inactive to recharge it. It is a very simple & enjoyable process, and while I haven't even touched on the most amazing part of this system, I will briefly touch on several aspects of this now. Not only can you fire (almost) unlimited amount of ammo to hold back the Hiss, if you use your skill points in towards the right perks when leveling up, you will soon also be able to telepathically lift the dead (or live) bodies of the Hiss and brutally lash them back at the Hiss. Not only that, but as you will be forced to realize upon experimenting with Controls combat systems, any object around Jesse can become a potential weapon for her to quickly conjure towards her before releasing it at the speed of sound towards the enemy. There is not many combat scenarios that I can remember in recent times that manage to give you that feeling of immense power & awesomeness on the scale that Control does. Upon even further expending your skill points towards these abilities, you soon become capable of lobbing extremely heavy and big objects in the vicinity such as a Forklift at your enemies, then watching in awe as the equipment explodes into a huge and beautiful ring of fire as it hits where your opponent USED to be. The combat is fast and fluid and requires players to constantly remain on the defensive, as Jesse is just as vulnerable to having bullets and objects hurled her way as the Hiss is. The sweet and satisfying combat is one of Controls definitive key elements and is also one of the best! While later in the game, there are several bosses who are gonna cause you quite a headache to deal with, because for some reason, the game will only let you respawn from certain "control points" of the building that Jesse has secured, and while that's all good and dandy, what is not good is the fact that the boss area where you keep dying at requires quite a bit of backtracking to reach because of the poor respawn/gameover mechanic. I will say though, that after leveling up higher and unlocking & improving upon your skillsets, that you most certainly will possess the tools required to accomplish the task that has you stumped. If you see that particular boss or enemy is giving you a really hard time, remember that you most likely will need to return later when you have improved your talents. I learned this the hard way.
The 2nd best feature of the game is one I have already touched upon, but it is the setting and enviroments that Jesse is set to explore. Remedy clearly put extreme care into making sure every room has it's own little story to tell. You won't find the same cheaply plastered backdrops many lazier studios have been incorporating into their worlds here. The Oldest House is as beautiful as it is mysterious, and upon walking around and gathering the many notes describing the events and research into the phenomenon that exists here both give you excellent insight to the strange & disturbing events transpiring around Jesse. There are tons of lore-filled collectible notes throughout the Oldest House, and as helpful & interesting as they were to discover, I found myself going to many off-the-main-beat areas just to scour and learn as much knowledge as I could. The world around you is gonna intrigue you just as much as it will disturb and at some parts, scare you. The fact that these locations are so different to one another & dripping with creativity attests to Remedy's amazing ability to create a world that can captivate players such as this. You never truly know what awaits you around the corner and this feeling of coming to terms with the "unknown" forces at work is a blend of just the right amount of creepy disturbing hesitations, yet unrivaled desire to learn as much as possible all into one experience. The best way to see the truly shocking & scary & sometimes (optional) enemies that the Hiss employs is to find the colorful and unique cast of staff workers that are in different locations of the Oldest House. The main story questline will have you seek these characters for aid and such, and each character is not only uniquely realized, but after returning & speaking to at different points throughout the course of the game, they each become fleshed out and feel like a coworker you may work with at your job. The cast all feel like real people with real problems and real personalities aside from the funny, yet creepy janitor named Ahti, who clearly possesses the most advanced understanding of what these alien beings known as the Hiss actually even after. There are several side missions that are not required to complete the game, but are highly recommended for the experiences that will come out of completion. They may be limited in numbers in the game, but each side quest feels extremely well planned out and not just slapped together like our favorite fetch quests we have become accustomed to from other games. The elements of bizarre & unexplainable things you will witness in Control may terrify you, confuse you, or become a tense situation on a moments notice, but no matter what, you wont be experiencing a boring or thoughtless experience.
While the controversial ending is a little disappointing, and the plot behind what's actually going on remains as murky as when you first enter the place, it is still an unforgettable experience that contains satisfying combat you can really sink your teeth into. Don't be mad at Control if you truly grasp as little after completing the game than when you started, that is the essence of the new weird genre that Control incorporates. It is all nonetheless WELL worth the price of admission!! Hat's off to the creative and unique chops Remedy shows off in this one of a kind spectacle!!