Is Control Any Good?

FBT fears a lack of control while TheMorty is in Control

With the news that Remedy are developing not one but two sequels to Control, FBT and TheMorty replay the original to argue if the first game is worth taking control of.

FBT - Remedy are the hipsters of gaming. They seem to deliberately subvert genres and expectations as too mainstream; Control should be amazing - a woman searching for her lost brother in a self-aware building under attack by an interdimensional being called ‘Hiss’ while investigating everyday objects imbued with trickster-like powers? Yet Control is so derivative it has to be some sort of comment on the generics of gaming. Bloody hipsters.

TheMorty - Gaming isn’t what it used to be in FBT’s golden era. Multiplayer doesn’t mean split screening or attaching two Atari’s together using a data cable. Now every game is made as an MMO with a campaign thrown in as an afterthought. Even games standalone single player narratives like Destiny or The Division force you into teaming up to complete missions. So, when gaming ‘Hipsters’ like Remedy stick to their roots and continue to avoid mainstream trends, well, they can just shut up and take my money.

FBT - It’s like being reminded of better games. We’ve got the wise janitor, multiple realities and universes, the guy who knows but won’t tell, an unexplained evil zombifying folks, random unexplained superpowers, a small open world, it feels like your Steam Games list on shuffle. It’s acting as if it’s mind-bending but really, it’s just patience breaking.

TM - Buying a Remedy game is no different to buying a novel. The style and structure of an auteur is often so unique that you can judge a book by its cover and know exactly what you’re getting into just from the name on the spine. So, if Max Payne and Alan Wake weren’t your cup of bourbon then what on Earth are you even doing reading this article?! Sam Lake doesn’t want to be ground-breaking or re-invent the genre. He doesn’t want to sandbox or help the company diversify its portfolio. He wants to tell a story that takes you along on one hell of a ride. Control is no different.

FBT - Jesse infiltrates the Bureau of Control, who investigate unnatural events. They’re based in the ‘Oldest House’ which can shift and alter but the house behaves itself the entire time we’re here, other than blocking routes because the narrative demanded it. Why isn’t it like Layers of Fear, altering to keep us off-balance, shifting mid-battle, letting us use changes or shifts to our advantage and jazz up the fights? We should be in fights like the hotel scene in Inception, but instead we just wander around a 1970s council office block.

TM - The ‘Oldest House’ has an eerie aura, sure it’s dark and drab but the lack of colour mixed with a menacing soundtrack gives you a worrying feeling that once you enter a room you might just turn around to find the entrance is no longer an exit. Don’t get me wrong – it’s no Evil Within or Alone in the Dark where you might struggle to sleep playing after the sun goes down, but it’s not supposed to be a survival game. Control equally balances action and drama so that you get a wonderfully tense build-up followed by an action-packed climax.

FBT - You’re having the same fights over and over and over. Every time you enter an area, the same group appears. You fight, move on, return later and look who’s back! Worse, they’re not fun to fight with. They’re like Doom Imps trudging toward you no matter how twisted looking they might be, and because health regenerates and the gun recharges there’s absolutely zero loss or gain to the encounters. Yeah, you pick up upgrades, like a mod that increases firepower by 1%. Woo. Jessie gains supernatural abilities but can only manage two attacks before recharging and they’re boring sub-Skyrim shouts for powers. Getting into a firefight with the same guys you just put down in similar hallways while waiting for Jessie, her gun and her powers to recharge is depressing. Die and you’re sent miles back to the nearest fast travel point, where everyone’s repopulated.

TM - The respawning enemies may be irritating for some, but to me they add a level of caution. It’s easy when you’re suped up to have a gung-ho attitude and dive headfirst into battle but reliving the battles again after a few deaths you learn to watch your step. Of course, the powers you have may sound boring in comparison to Max Payne’s uber-cool bullet time, but if you think about it - they’re basically Jedi powers. Force Push, Force Pull, Force Jump… add in the fact you have an array of guns, you’re basically a Storm Trooper with Jedi Powers in a pantsuit. What’s not cool about that?

TM - You define the pace of the game, like Resident Evil, there’s locked doors that require access to prevent you going down the rabbit hole of collectible hunting but the difference with Control is that on your second lap of the house, the building has changed its shape and it makes you feel like you’re playing a totally different landscape. Control is brilliant at removing the feeling of repetition – almost akin to the way Bioshock made a very small part of Rapture feel endless.

FBT - What really got me is almost every element - Jesse, the plot, the gun, the warped realities, the self-aware building, the mad objects - are great, but the game acts like it’s too cool for this. It doesn’t deserve to be this pleased with itself, I spent 20 minutes trying to chase a traffic light before I stopped and thought ‘I don’t give a shit’.

FBT - Control is like being a child in a supermarket who lost their mum; at first it’s scary, then fun, then you realise it’s boring, and you get a slap for wandering off. It’s not only derivative of every - single - game - you’ve - ever - played, set in an NCP Carpark, but it knocks off tv series as well. X-Files, The Prisoner, Eureka, Fringe, Warehouse 13; Control is basically Sy-Fy’s daytime schedule. They should have adapted Sharknado instead.

TM - Control isn’t Fortnite, you can’t just dip in and out. It isn’t a chaotic giggle nor a full-blooded romp. It’s a playable novel, with each twist and turn in the complex narrative leaving you with that ‘just one more page’ feeling. If you’re not a Sci-fi fan then perhaps, this isn’t for you. But that’s okay, you can always replay Oblivion for the 200th time. If you are, this isn’t just up your street, this is the old, abandoned, terrifying house right at the top of it. This isn’t a tribute to Alan Wake as Quantum Break often seemed (although Bright Falls might be in the House somewhere…), Control unleashes a brand of mystery, puzzle, action and narrative that transcends it’s genre in a way that no game to come before ever has.