Author Topic: Control [2019 - Remedy Entertainment]  (Read 312 times)

Offline Starfox

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Control [2019 - Remedy Entertainment]
« on: November 27, 2020, 07:31:31 PM »
So you picked THE gun? Fine, welcome to the Federal Bureau of Control, Director. Well, at least you will be Director if you successfully pass our test because otherwise, we'll just pull the trigger and call it a day (oh, did you wonder why the gun was pointed at your head? That's why!).

Jesse Faden (the character that is the player's avatar for Control) will pass the test, obviously -- otherwise the game would end right there -- and become the Director of the Federal Bureau of Control. But what is the FBC? The FBC was secretly established after World War II by the US government to register, monitor, study and eventually control paranatural phenomenons and artifacts (calling it FBSPP -- Federal Bureau for Study of Paranatural Phenomenons -- would have been more descriptive but Remedy needed a "Control" somewhere so they could play with the name; it's their game so sure, why not). At the beginning, the FBC was just a governmental agency like any other but then they found the "Oldest House" a building in the middle of New-York that is only visible to those who intentionally search for it. Within the Oldest House, FBC agents found the gun and a race of alien entities collectively known to humans as "The Board" that reside on what is called the Astral Plane (the particular of this are explained in the first DLC for the game called "The Foundation"). Those entities are the ones who decide who can be Director and the Director is the only one who can contact them although the way the board express themselves is not really helpful an example would be "You are Worthy/Found Wanting, come Play/Be Played with/by us, that will be Fun/Horrible/Joyful/Disastrous".

And what is this gun anyway? Its FBC official designation is the Service Weapon and it's an Object of Power; or "Oops" (Plural) -- blame Remedy for that. An object of power confers to the one it is being bound to a paranatural ability. In the case of the gun it's just the ability to combat foes and to be recognized as the FBC Director (kind of a badge of office). Anyone can pick the gun but the gun (or rather the entities behind it) decides who can be the Director. From a gaming point of view, the Service Weapon is also the only ballistic weapon the player has during the whole game although it can take several "astral forms", from a mere pistol to a rocket launcher, those forms being unlocked at different stages of the game. The second object of power Jesse will need is a 1950s styled Bakelite red phone which is the only thing enabling her to talk with the board and to occasionally receive messages from dead people, all of those being supposed to help her on her mission (or rather to allow the player a better understanding of what's going on).

Those among you expecting a horror game will be disappointed. There's a reason why the word paranatural is the one used in the game instead of supernatural. Though belonging to the same "paranormal" field, paranatural refers to phenomenons in the realm of science but not yet explained by it. Supernatural would be phenomenons that science cannot explain, neither now nor later. So no unnatural foes to be found here. The game does include though some pretty disturbing phenomenons and "possessed" people that in general Jesse will have to kill with her newly found gun.

Although not part of the FBC Jesse becomes Director during a time of crisis, and not by accident. It's not like she just stumbled on the whole thing, she was led there by her head (rather something inside it). The FBC is under attack by something best defined as a "resonance" with an evil intent that Jesse promptly name the Hiss (and as she's the newly promoted Director, the name sticks). The general method of attack of the Hiss is to take control of non protected FBC personnel and to send them fight the others.

And I will stop there with the story because going further will entail a lot of spoilers. Suffice to say that Control story in itself is compelling, interesting and fully self sustaining. So why did Remedy had to almost completely ruin it with a little DLC that... no matter. it's a discussion for another time. As some of you may know I wasn't a huge fan of last Remedy game Quantum Break, to say the least. For me playing control was giving them a chance to show me better. And they did, for the most part, if we forget about the whole DLC thing (but still I'll be back another day for my take on that).

The gameplay is mostly fun, with a small range of paranatural powers allowing you to attack your enemies With telekinetic powers including from the air (with the levitate power), to control them so they work for you for a limited time, to shield you from harm with a wall of debris. Powers are not available instantly and one has to work to acquire them, first by discovering a relevant object of power then by mastering the power transferred to Jesse in the Astral Plane, until The Board decides that she's ready.

If the story is interesting, the storytelling itself is passable. I will repeat myself there but why claiming that your engine constitute a "Storytelling Technology" when you use it with a lot of adverse effects? First there are the "information" that is displayed when you enter a new undiscovered area, a message in hyper big white letters that fills up in some cases more than 50% of the screen. Super immersive guys, well done. So okay, those messages only display once but still... Then there are the even more annoying "alerts" that triggers after the first part of the game on a regular basis. Those messages in VERY big yellow letters inform you that a task is available to complete and remain on the center top of the screen until you confirm with a button (or they fade after about a dozen seconds if you don't). Those tasks are not necessary to complete the game beyond providing you with some more resources and mods for your gun. For some reason however they are treated like if they were important side-quests (which they are not) and the worst part of it is that the message announcing them can be displayed at almost any time even when you are in the middle of a fight or in third person conversation. Remedy just stop short of displaying them (but not of triggering them and the jingle associated) when your are in a close up conversation. Again, thanks for the immersion.

Talking about close-up conversations, I spend a fair amount of time asking myself "what's wrong with their faces?". There is a je ne sais quoi in the mouth area that is definitely abnormal at times and distracting when the characters speak, like if a coat of fresh paint was splattered on some fairly old technology. the mouth area and the jaw "muscles" -- for lack of a better term -- in particular are too rigid (too rigid to the point that I noticed even though this is not the kind of thing that annoys me much in a game in general).

The save system is... well to put it frankly, it's one of the most horrible save systems I have seen in a game. There's only one autosave with one hard save at the beginning of each "mission", one cannot manually save, there's no profile so you cannot play with someone else (say like, if you wanted to play the game and that your girlfriend wanted to play the game too... no can do, not without getting your hands dirty and manually switching save files every time). Other games by other developers follow a similar scheme but they are few. Most games that tend to not allow you to manually save, at least offer you the possibility of switching profiles.

Those details aside, Control seems to be a solid game. In fact the only thing that can tear it apart are the guys at Remedy themselves and their lack of self-control (and yeah, the pun is intended, I'm not even ashamed). They confirmed their astounding ability to try an ruin their own game in the second "story" DLC they issued for Control called AWE. But I'll come back on that another day because it's truly depressing.

As for the vanilla game, I enjoyed it and that is what counts, right?
« Last Edit: September 17, 2021, 12:46:22 PM by Starfox »

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. -- A. Einstein