‘This is going to be weirder than usual’
The first line from protagonist Jesse Faden, in the gameplay reveal trailer for Control, sums up my playthrough and experience of the game rather nicely.
I didn’t quite know what to expect when going into my 20-minute playthrough demo of Remedy’s new psychic title.
The developer behind Max Payne, Quantum Break and a personal favourite Alan Wake has never been one to reveal too much about a game’s storyline, especially in the case of the latter.
It is also not one to shy away from the unknown.
Here’s what we know
Control focuses on the Federal Bureau of Control (FBC), a top-secret faction of government that studies everything supernatural and ghostly.
You play as Jesse Faden, the red-head heroine recently promoted director of the Bureau.
Set inside the New York FBC headquarters, known as ‘The Oldest House’, you figure out that something isn’t quite right very early on (the floating bodies and zombie-like baddies give it away) and Jesse must take control of powerful superhuman abilities in order to stop an enemy known only as ‘the Hiss’.
That’s all we get
Apart from that, we don’t know too much about the events that took place prior to Jesse arriving at the FBC headquarters or who this mysterious enemy is.
We were promised that everything would be revealed as you progress through the storyline – here are my most burning questions:
- Why is ‘The Oldest House’ frozen in time
- What was the Bureau researching prior to everything going wrong?
- What or who is the Hiss?
- Why the hell is Jesse so chill with her superpowers?
The game itself looks great artistically – with the vibrant colours of the plant life juxtaposing with the bare concrete walls that are commonplace in the Bureau’s New York headquarters.
Real-life video footage was playing on the walls in one area of the map – adding a nice blend between reality and gameplay.
Control isn’t the sort of game to give you that many hints when you find yourself in a rut.
Instead, it encourages exploration with success in solving trickier puzzles relying on trial and error.
If you choose to explore you may uncover new abilities that will make your life 10 times easier further into the game.
The ability to float, throw and smash stuff up was one of the highlights of Control in my playthrough, as it made for some interesting new takes on fights and puzzle sequences.
With dozens of rooms to explore, I decided that the best way to uncover secret reserves of ammo and upgrades for Jesse’s firearm and abilities was to destroy everything in sight.
Jesse’s service arm was particularly helpful when it came to destroying not only the Bureau’s varied array of furniture and pot plants but also when dealing with some of Control’s more challenging enemies.
The best thing for me about the game was the prospect of upgrading Jesse’s service weapon and abilities as the story progressed.
The supernatural firearm that is integral to all engagements in the game can change form on the go – allowing you to adapt depending on the situation.
The Spin modification, for example, allows you to charge up your weapon and fire a massive blast through enemies and objects alike.
Progression through the game will allow you to level up not only your sidearm but your abilities as well, granting you the power to do anything from throwing objects to taking control of the Hiss’ troop’s minds.
The enemies themselves aren’t the mindless dolts we have come to expect from certain game genres but work in coordination with each other to bring you down.
Magical floating orbs will grant buffs when nearby so it’s a good idea to target these first with your seize ability and take the buffs for yourself.
The build I played through was still very much a work-in-progress, with the user interface, HUD and some of the frame-rates being on the messy side.
However, from what I managed to play the story has intrigued me and the prospect of new abilities to add to the already engaging combat will bring me back to the game when it launches.
With the full game being released later this year I will be eagerly keeping an eye on updates coming from Remedy in the coming months.