Death Stranding‘s gameplay reveal at E3 2018 was one of the most disappointing moments of this year’s show, but luckily there was another weird and cryptic gameplay reveal that managed to spark some interest during Sony’s conference. That game was Control, the brand new title from Sam Lake’s Remedy Games studio who is responsible for Max Payne, Alan Wake, and Quantum Break. I had the chance to take a look at the game at 505 Games’ booth during E3 proper and it completely won me over.
Control ditches the excessive focus on storytelling and cinematics from Quantum Break in favor of a bigger focus on gameplay. It’s a third-person action-adventure game with a metroidvania level design, an emphasis on collecting new supernatural abilities in order to overcome obstacles, as well as revisiting previous areas with new powers in order to unveil secrets. The core combat revolves around the usage of a supernatural pistol that can morph into a shotgun as well. There isn’t an ammo counter, just a small cooldown meter. You can also use supernatural powers against your opponents, such as a Force-like ability in which you can control nearby debris and use said debris as shield.
Another interesting aspect about the demo, which wasn’t exactly long, was the fact there was no HUD onscreen. Whenever you used your gun, the only thing that would show up was the very discrete cooldown meter, but that was the only thing onscreen. Control can be gameplay-focused, but it still retains a slight cinematic feel. It actually works: the game looked and played great. It actually felt like what the underwhelming Past Cure was trying to achieve with its much smaller budget.
While still cryptic, I felt like I could understand a little bit of Control‘s story and the direction Sam Lake and his team are trying to follow. You are an agent from an unknown NY organization who has just become the new Director and your objective is to regain Control. That’s the plot summary and while it makes little sense, we’ve seen a bit of gameplay to at least understand our objective and our surroundings. The agency is filled with unpredictable turns and full of death and enemies. There is a shadowy figure following you: is that the villain? Is that another potential ally? It’s cryptic, it’s weird, but it’s intriguing. I want to know more and I will be looking forward to playing it when it comes out next February.
I didn’t see much of Control, but I loved what little I saw from it. It looked nice, it had some interesting gameplay ideas and most importantly, it had a plot that while cryptic, felt intriguing and not exactly confusing per se. Get ready for some fierce competition Hideo-san, Sam Lake’s new title is a big contender for the weird supernatural action throne of this gaming generation.