Reviews

Control Analysis, the bravest game of Remedy

Control
Written by Kamran Haider

Remedy seeks to reinvent itself by abandoning its most classic film formulas. Control is your freest game, where exploration and combat go hand in hand with the supernatural, while we explore the secrets of this mysterious agency. Control Analysis

When we look at that genre that we used to call Metroidvania, we identify a series of patterns that make it unique. In the field of the two dimensions, it is easily identifiable. You just have to think about that amalgam of interconnected maps divided into squares. In the field of 3D, however, the thing is more difficult to analyze. It would be easy to think that the elements of a Metroidvania are backtracking, that ability to retrace your steps to explore other areas or to explore areas of difficult access thanks to the acquisition of new skills. But by this rule of three, games like the latest Tomb Raider and God of WarCould they are Metroidvania? I think that in this genre there is a common denominator, a much more defined element, and it is being immersed in a real maze by mapping. A scenario that writhes and refuses to let you move forward easily. And Control complies with all of the above. The Immemorial House is a hostile environment for its many dangers and enemies, but also for its disconcerting halls and levels. To defeat the Hiss, not only will these supernatural entities have to be destroyed, but the environment must be controlled.

It is not an easy task. The complete Control map is divided into a series of plants corresponding to the different functions of the Agency. Each department that we find is connected by a series of corridors specifically designed to make you feel as lost as if you enter a gray and monochrome government building or a gigantic hospital. Your greatest allies will be your sense of direction and the various posters that indicate the important areas of each plant.

True to his style, Remedy seeks above all to combine the essence of his shooters with something else.

Of course, it would not be a Metroidvania without the possibility of consulting a map., but Control is really messy. Draw a sketch of each level, although it does not go into details or differ in different heights. It is not recreated in 3D, so it is difficult to correctly detect some areas. And today, with the game over and almost all the side missions complete, I don’t know if this is due to a design decision. That is, Remedy may have wanted to be confusing on purpose with his map style. I wouldn’t be surprised at all. One of the symptoms of this genre is to end up consulting the map too much, instead of looking at the signs and clues offered by the video game itself. Remedy has forced me to have to orient myself by my own means. To this is added a daring navigation system that indicates the area where your target is located, but never exactly marks it with an indicator. A choice that many other studies usually only implement as an option to disable in the menu. Control does not want that. He wants you to really master the map and the only way to do it is by taking him out of your comfort zone.

A weapon, multiple forms

The exploration is a fundamental component of Control and as you have been able to perceive in this analysis, not in a contemplative way. Orientation in the Agency is a fundamental component that adheres to mechanics and is part of the very essence of the game. The other great asset in combat. Something that we will do a lot and everything with a single weapon in hand: the service weapon, capable of becoming many: gun, shotgun, machine gun, sniper, grenade launcher … We can only take two forms at a time, so we will have to go to the menu if we want to vary its formula. Depending on the situation or the style of play, close combat or the safety of long distances may be more useful. But Remedy, as we saw with quantum Break, seeks above all to combine the essence of its shooters with something else: the special powers.

In the case of Jesse Faden, these skills are gained with certain objects of power that you will find in your passage through the agency. Thanks to them we can use telekinesis with which to throw all kinds of objects to the adversaries, cover ourselves with debris as a protective shield, control the minds of our rivals to help us in the fray, dodge quickly or ultimately, even fly. What would a good Metroidvania be without the definitive ability to cross the bat-shaped levels in Castlevania or thanks to the Screw Attack in Metroid? In ControlIn addition, it will help us to face the fighting with a new perspective to skip the covers of the enemies or even fall with all our force on them.weapon

The fighting is intense. The different enemies test everything we have learned and look again for that obsession of Remedy to keep us moving at all times. Although there is the possibility of crouching in toppings, as you get Jesse’s powers, you will learn to fight without stopping, since the enemies will also attack from the heights and some explosives that fire really does damage.

However, I cannot help having the feeling that with the importance of combat in Control, both tools and enemies and the progression of weapons were not enough to keep it at a high level throughout the game. I have noticed a certain sense of boredom and fatigue in the most advanced moments of the adventure that made the fighting end up being somewhat monotonous and repetitive. There are different enemies, but there comes a time when the game is more concerned with shuffling and ordering them in waves than in being something more creative and offering new types with different mechanics. Fall into the easy resource of combining a powerful enemy with the one you fought alone with an entourage that follows. And sometimes, the hordes do not stop coming. At some point, I have finished with a few waves to continue with the final boss, move on to the next stage and meet again with more enemies, with little rest.

It’s not the only problem. Everything would be more acceptable if you could vary your tactics. But even if your service weapon has multiple shots, there are not many different ways to face combat, beyond combining the gun with telekinesis, while defending yourself with the shield and waiting for your energy to recharge. It is missing that many of the altered objects and power that we found in the adventure and in secondary missions gave more variety to this set, allowing the player to handle the combat with creativity. Thus, the huge amount of waves of adversaries that we have to deal with in some cases could be better assumed.

Do you have control?

Jesse Faden goes to the Federal Control Agency for personal motivation, finding his brother missing many years ago and in strange circumstances, eventually becoming the director of the Agency, for reasons that it is better not to disclose. I think it is easy to recognize Sam Lake’s pen behind the whole work since the way to tell it through a voiceover is very characteristic. But also for that inclination not to reveal the mysteries that were made clear in Alan Wake. Throughout our passage through the Immemorial House, we go into the mysteries and secrets it hides. What exactly are they investigating? What are the Hiss and where did they come from? What happened to our brother? What causes all the supernatural phenomena we see in our path?

The Thresholds offer us truly powerful moments and worthy of admiration

Control does an exercise in contention in the answers that, as I say, is very typical of Lake following that maxim of Stephen King of “the explanation is the antithesis of the lyric of fear.” But as much as we can understand the intentions, the truth is that the game does very little to keep the player’s interest in continuing to ask these questions. Sometimes, for being too sparing in words. In others, for hiding information in a series of collectible documents, hundreds of them, of which many do not have relevant information. And finally, because in the final stages of the adventuresome explanations are given too quickly and without many foundations.Jesse’s own character feels blurred, without delving into personal conflicts beyond his ultimate goal and without real transformation in the characters and in the story itself.

In the end, it is easy to keep imaginative of your proposal and discard the rest. And this is represented very well with their side missions, some of which have great development and branch out. The best are those that urge us to explore various phenomena and altered artifacts that are completely uncontrolled in the Agency. Imagine the following: a refrigerator that must be constantly monitored without looking away for a moment or, otherwise, may unleash chaos. Or a mirror that we can go through and that reverses reality. We never get to the bottom to understand the purpose of these objects, but to investigate each one of the phenomena, to solve the puzzles or situations that they propose to us, has been without a doubt one of the best Control premises. Sometimes even better than the main story itself, which simply serves as a guide to tour the Immemorial House in its entirety.

Unfortunately, not all side missions are like that. There are also completely irrelevant. From the classic task of eliminating objectives in different specific areas of the mapping to other random ones that, under a stopwatch, make us deviate from our objective to end a concrete threat. Beyond getting some improvements for weapons and for Jesse, as I say, they do not have much importance and the truth is that I would have liked to see more of the other category, since they are the ones that squeeze the game, blurring reality many times, or providing a comic tone that feels like a fable, or creating unique puzzles and mechanics.

Because it is this setting that makes Control an attractive game, as I say, much more than Jesse’s personal story. An atmosphere that is achieved not only with a bright visual design, but with something that may surprise the followers of Remedy’s work, the almost total absence of kinematics throughout the game Although there are some, its presence is testimonial, which has allowed the Finnish studio not only to reduce production costs, but to explore a diegetic game style, which uses the tools of the medium to introduce us into its history or, rather, in Your supernatural world. Jesse’s thoughts are accompanied by conversations with a handful of secondary characters that do not stand out especially, but at least serve to deepen some of the questions we asked earlier.physics

The physics of the impossible

this stunning visual design is probably the most significant aspect of Control. Remedy has really worked hard to get all the styles that could be intuited in his games and create a space for him to be the protagonist. Playing with the illogical of the rooms, with the symmetry of the complementary shapes and colors, the Agency becomes a space that merges the real with the dreamlike. This is particularly noticeable in the so-called Thresholds, places where logic has no place and reality merges with the impossible. They are truly powerful moments and worthy of admiration.

There is also beauty in combat. Shooting the weapon, dodging or throwing objects through the air make each room a brutal battlefield. When in a critique we talk about the impact that the destructive scenarios cause in the player, it is because there really is no comparison with those inert ones that offer other games. Virtually everything in Control is prone to damage. Any object or piece of furniture can break into pieces while we see how papers, smoke or feathers fly out of a cushion. But not only furniture. The railings fall, the columns break, the crystals shatter. When Jesse has nothing to grab and throw at his enemies, he starts a piece of soil or column and that piece is torn there. In short, the physical they are truly impressive and should be to influence the brutality of the fighting. They suffer, however, from that strange peculiarity, by which simply by touching a table, we see all kinds of heavy objects wobble.

Its visual design is probably the most significant aspect of Control.

Not only is it good technical news, because the truth is that at least in the Xbox One X console version we have played we have suffered setbacks that we did not expect. Some more serious than others. In general, the game behaves well, but we have detected many draws of frames in key circumstances. For example, by teleporting from one point to another, the game gets stuck a lot. They are not the most annoying moments but tarnishes the result a bit. Yes, they are more so when in some fights the amount of elements on the screen due to explosions and physics also greatly reduces the frame rate, while some textures may take time to load. Even more strange is that simply by consulting the map, which is nothing more than an overlay of a 2D image, the game repeats these lows in softness. Hopefully, a patch helps mitigate these technical problems.

Nor can I miss the fateful dubbing who has had control in Spain. In general, I always play English titles, testing dubbing in case I have it, but with Control, they could have saved it directly, since the result is terrible, doing more damage to the game than acting on their behalf. It is noted that the actors are not only lost, without understanding the context of the phrases but that their registration is not adequate. Sometimes, even, noticing that naive tone that anyone could have when trying to interpret a phrase when you don’t have enough experience. I can come to understand that even in a character like a janitor, who belongs to a very different culture and with foreign words, it is a real challenge, but all the characters, starting with Jesse herself,

Control is a prism that sometimes reflects the most radiant colors and, on other occasions, its worst faces. The design of its scenarios and exploration is thrown. Like it more or less, Remedy has dared to eliminate navigation points and aids, aware that you are going to get lost, or even frustrated, but also that this is how good mazes are made. His combat is frantic, only in the second half he can lose his strength and become repetitive since there are not many tools at our disposal to make it varied and many enemies appear incessant again and again with the same mechanics. The story shows both sides because what he tells us explicitly has lost me at the end of the story. However, there is some magic, an attractive mysticism in objects, the rooms and the rules that move them. All accompanied by an unbeatable visual design, with some compositions that you want to capture and share about how beautiful and surreal they are, but that also has its counterpart with some technical problems or even bugs, with some missions that are not activated correctly or others that, directly, seem filler. I think the final result is worth exploring at some point, with the expectations contained and being seduced by the imagery that Remedy always shows in this 3D Metroidvania. Go through its extensive mapping by yourself and face the prism. Only then can you be in Control. but that also has its counterpart with some technical problems or even bugs, with some missions that are not activated correctly or others that, directly, seem filler. I think the final result is worth exploring at some point, with the expectations contained and being seduced by the imagery that Remedy always shows in this 3D Metroidvania. Go through its extensive mapping by yourself and face the prism. Only then can you be in Control. but that also has its counterpart with some technical problems or even bugs, with some missions that are not activated correctly or others that, directly, seem filler. I think the final result is worth exploring at some point, with the expectations contained and being seduced by the imagery that Remedy always shows in this 3D Metroidvania. Go through its extensive mapping by yourself and face the prism. Only then can you be in Control. with the expectations contained and being seduced by the imagery that Remedy always shows in this 3D Metroidvania. Go through its extensive mapping by yourself and face the prism. Only then can you be in Control. with the expectations contained and being seduced by the imagery that Remedy always shows in this 3D Metroidvania. Go through its extensive mapping by yourself and face the prism. Only then can you be in Control.

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Conclusion:

Control is Remedy’s most daring work. A brave scenario design that encourages exploration and dispenses with aid is mixed with fierce combat, but in the long run somewhat monotonous and repetitive. Its history also presents chiaroscuro, since it is neither the best nor is it told in the best way. Fortunately, the opposite is true with its setting, which seduces the player with stunning scenarios and overflowing imagination. It is noted that resources have been limited and this has affected the variety of situations, but if you get involved in it, looking for all the secrets of the Agency, end up rewarding the effort.

  • Impeccable and very imaginative visual design and atmosphere.
  • Destructible scenarios in fierce fighting.
  • The exploration is brave, without guides or help to the player.
  • The fighting ends up being too abundant and repetitive.
  • The main story is somewhat poor, the mysteries of the Agency itself being more interesting.
  • Technical problems of slowdowns and bugs in missions.

About the author

Kamran Haider

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