Fans have been clamoring for a sequel to both Alan Wake and Quantum Break for a long time now. And with good reason. Alan Wake has become a cult classic and Quantum Break took a whole different approach to the story driven action genre, with live action cut scenes bridging the gap between acts. Remedy has made a name for itself doing these types of “cinematic action” games. Now that torch has been passed to Control, Remedy’s newest release. After watching the credits roll, I can confidently say that it wields that torch with conviction. And then throws gasoline on it.
You play as Jesse Faden, the newly appointed director of the Federal Bureau of Control. You start with a special gun that, throughout the game, can be upgraded to function as several different firearms. Shotgun, sniper rifle, sub machine gun or what amounts to a grenade launcher, it’s a very versatile weapon regardless of your preference. Throughout the game you will also receive different powers. Most are granted through the story but a couple are locked behind side missions. Using a combination of weaponry and powers is key to the action sequences of the game. By the end, you start to feel like a badass super soldier.
Here’s the caveat though. Remedy seems to have found the perfect balance of enemy difficulty and your ability. This is going to sound weird, but part of what makes this game so good is that it found the perfect number of abilities and controller layout. I never thought that was a thing until now. It makes the combat incredibly fluid and accessible. While still challenging, there wasn’t a single time where I wished it had an easy difficulty setting. And coming from me, that’s saying a lot. It also seems to find that perfect pacing when it comes to adding abilities. Every power and weapon has a purpose, yet the game allows you to tackle most situations as you want.
Speaking of pacing, the team really knocked it out the park. It maintains a creepy vibe without being scary. Since I’m a giant wuss, I really appreciated that. While not as long as many single player experiences, it keeps you interested the entire way through. Adding different twists and turns have been a hallmark in Remedy games, and Control is no different. There are plenty of side missions to keep you going. On top of that, there are random events that pop up for you to go earn more materials to upgrade your powers and weapon. Again, balancing. I never felt like I had to farm these events in order to achieve what I wanted. They definitely helped though and ultimately, you’ll get what you give. While the events are a bit repetitive, the side missions are all unique and may grant you different powers or ability points.
Up to this point, I’ve showered the game with praise, all well deserved. So where can the game use some help? I would have liked to have seen a bit more variation of enemies. There’s quite a few, to be fair. Most of them were your standard shooty, run of the mill bad guys (sometimes with shields). It’s a minor gripe. Also, if you’re not paying attention to the story, it’s easy to get lost as it can get a little confusing here and there. Additionally there were a few technical hiccups like audio issues on occasion and every time I un-paused the game, it would stutter for a few seconds. Graphically, it’s not going to blow you away. There is a film grain present the entire time. While it lends itself to the overall mood of the game, I didn’t care for it. Playing games on the Xbox One X, I’ve come expect that crisp presentation. You don’t really get that here. I understand the aesthetic choice though. Finally, there’s one character that played a vital part of the story and I couldn’t understand what he was saying 90% of the time due to a heavy accent. I had to turn on the subtitles when he talked. Again, all of these are very minor gripes but should be noted.
If you’re a fan of Remedy’s previous titles, this one is a no-brainer. Heck, even if you aren’t, this should be on your list. The game checks all the notes most people are looking for in a single player experience. Hopefully Control will fill that gap, at least partially, for players wanting sequels to their previous two games. However it more than stands on its own and is a worthy addition to Remedy’s repertoire.