Catching Up On: Control

2019 was a year of some truly stellar video game releases, so much so that I wasn’t able to play everything that I had hoped to play. In my spare time this year, I’ve been playing through some titles that I missed out on, such as The Outer Worlds and A Plague Tale: Innocence. The next title on my list was Remedy’s supernatural epic – Control. After finishing the game, I really wished I had played it sooner.

Control follows Jesse Faden, a young woman who arrives at the Federal Bureau of Control in search of her brother Dylan, who the Bureau abducted after an incident in their hometown when they were younger. Guided by a supernatural entity that she calls ‘Polaris’, Jessie soon finds that the Bureau has been overrun by an unknown presence that is corrupting those within and possessing their bodies. She calls it ‘The Hiss’ – a name that is soon picked up and adopted by the surviving employees of the Bureau.

Control’s narrative is weird, to say the least, but it’s also incredibly interesting and you’ll find yourself wanting to see the next big moment right from the get-go. It takes your attention instantly, with some mind-bending writing and a strong assortment of characters. The story somewhat loses its edge towards the end of the game, but the mystery was enough to keep me engaged.

The Hiss are a mysterious entity, but a dangerous one. As it corrupts people that it gets a hold of, it can morph their appearance and abilities resulting in a range of enemies that Jessie will have to face in her search for her brother. Like many other games, she obviously has a number of weapons and abilities at her disposal – a shape shifting gun that can adapt to short, medium and long-range combat scenarios, plus supernatural powers like telekinesis, mind control and more.

The sheer amount of variety between enemy types and abilities, as well as the ease in swapping between weapons, makes combat in Control a thrill to play. Combat is quick, chaotic and at times it can even be quite tense. Remedy clearly put thought into Jessie’s arsenal, with each weapon mode an ability feeling like it serves a purpose.

Players can improve Jessie’s weapons and abilities as you work your way through the game. Mods are littered around the game, which can benefit your health, as well as adjusting the weapon’s accuracy, spread and more. There are ability points too, which can improve their effectiveness or even add new moves for Jessie to utilise. 

The combat (and just the game in general) looks amazing, especially during more intense scenarios and much of this can be attributed to the amazing effects in the game. This isn’t strictly talking about its graphics, which are simply amazing, but the game’s particle effects really make the game shine. It’s an area that Remedy has excelled in over the years. I still remember similar effects when I was fighting off the taken in Alan Wake, so it’s great to see their skills have only improved in this department.

It didn’t come as a surprise, but the frantic action, amazing visuals and impressive effects come at a cost. I played the game on an Xbox One S and the performance was dreadful. Frequent frame drops and long loading screens plague Control. I even experienced a crash or two during my playthrough. It’s really disappointing to see, given just how awesome this game is. Following my completion of the game, I’ve searched around to find that the issues are common, even on the Xbox One X and the PS4 Pro.

With that in mind, while I absolutely recommend you play Control, don’t play it on current consoles. If you can, grab it on PC or wait for its release on Xbox Series X and Playstation 5.

Control

Summary

Control is an amazing game, and easily one of my favourites of last year’s releases. An engaging story and thrilling gameplay make Control a joy to play, despite its poor performance.

Overall
9/10
9/10

Pros

  • Weird and wonderful narrative
  • Awesome combat design
  • Top-notch visual and particle effects

Cons

  • Significant performance issues
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