Control Is Everything You Loved From Quantum Break and More
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Remedy Entertainment and 505 Games at E3 2019 to get my hands on Control’s newest build with Nvidia RTX features. Oh boy does it look fantastic! Even without the RTX, it is a very good looking game. But the extra flair that comes from realistic reflections and lighting really sell certain scenes. I’ve been a huge fan of Remedy since the first Max Payne and I have been enjoying watching and experiencing them grow. However, even as big of a fan as I am of Remedy, I still had some issues with Quantum Break and that mainly had to do with the narrative and the live action TV show. I do applaud them for trying something new, but unfortunately it just didn’t quite land as well as I was hoping.
Luckily, the gameplay of Quantum Break is where it shined with its various time control powers and unique ways it used time warps within the environments. Control for the most part feels like a branching story of the Quantum Break universe; they feel very similar gameplay-wise even with the tone and theme. However, Control takes everything you loved from Quantum Break: cool powers, weapons, environments, narrative, character focus, and then expands upon them and trims out the live action fat.
In Control you play as Jesse Faden (modeled and acted by actress Courtney Hope) who joined as the new Director of a secret organization that was recently invaded by an otherworldly threat called “The Hiss”. During her quest for personal answers as the new Director, Jesse is struggling to regain The Federal Bureau of Control from The Hiss. I have a feeling that The FBC has a bit more to do with The Hiss and we will need to get dirty finding the answers. From what I played, The Hiss literally takes control over people and uses them as puppets. Often throughout the environments you’ll see humans floating midair as if being hung by puppet strings. The Federal Bureau of Control gets invaded by an otherworldly threat that CONTROLS people. . . smells fishy to me, but I digress.
The portion of the story I was able to play showed a lot of promise between the story beats, characters, and gameplay. It’s not clear how far along in the game I was at the point I started, but if I had to guess, it was still fairly early maybe within the first three missions. I was equipped with the Service Weapon, that oddly enough is a Source of Power and how the Bureau chooses their new director. Yes, this organization bases who their Director is based on who this weapon chooses to bond with. While you only have this single weapon, it is actually much more versatile than it seems. You’re able to change the form of it, as well as add modifications to it. In my demo I was able to use it as a pistol and then change it into a shotgun of sorts. Finding hidden caches will often provide you with mods for your Service Weapon and crafting parts. Control may only have a single weapon compared to Quantum Break, but with the various forms, mods, and how each form will react to enemies, there is much more depth.
It’s hard to tell if Control’s powers will live up to how fun Quantum Break’s powers were to use. Instead of using time manipulation, you’re using more supernatural mind powers. I started off with a basic telekinesis ability that allowed me to pick up and throw just about any object that isn’t bolted down. It felt very natural to use and there weren’t any annoying clipping issues with trying to pull things towards you and toss them at enemies. Some of the enemies will have a shield that would take a lot of bullets to take down, but a quick toss of a chunk of concrete brings down the shield quickly leaving them open to shots.
As I continued to play, I stumbled upon a strange dimensional warp that brought me to an entirely different place. Within this Astral Plane I found an Object of Power which gave me the ability to dodge quickly. I then had to navigate through the Astral Plane dodging moving walls and timing platforming jumps in conjunction with mid air dodges. These dimensional warps and finding Objects of Power are how you unlock additional powers and to upgrade current powers. These are much like the Chronos Sources from Quantum Break, but expanded on and given their own challenges in order to unlock the power. Besides telekinesis, you’ll also unlock powers to mind control enemies to fight for you, as well as a levitating ability which also comes with a melee ground pound. A shield ability that lifts debris in front of you to block attacks which can then be thrown out for a stun effect.
Control is also a departure in the way Remedy typically handles their level and world design. For the most part Remedy has always made very linear story driven games with only small areas to branch off and find some hidden items. Control features fully open level sections that you can freely go back and forth between with fast travel or through the main hub. There is also an element of metroidvania gameplay as there will be sections inaccessible until you get certain powers. Beyond the level design they are also including different outfits which isn’t something Remedy typically does. You’ll be able to find and equip different clothing sets, two of which have been announced by being included in preorder bonuses: the Tactical Response Gear and the Astral Dive Suit. It’s unclear what exactly the suits do for you, but since there are player mods I have to suspect the suits will buff you in certain way.
For the most part Quantum Break was a great looking game, even on the base Xbox One. The engine and tech used was extremely clever and while it did have some awkward ghosting with the lighting at times, overall it was a pretty game. Control uses this same engine, but it’s hard to compare it to Quantum Break because I was playing my E3 demo on a beastly PC with RTX features enabled. With that being said, it is absolutely gorgeous with its usage of lighting and shadow work. Incorporate that with Ray Tracing reflections and you have one sexy looking game. As far as the character designs go, they are all spot on to the actual actor playing them and motion captured for the scenes. Facial animations look realistic as well, which is something Remedy handles well.
All and all, Control is Remedy’s largest and most ambitious title to date. While it is very clear they’re taking a lot of what they learned from Quantum Break and improving upon it, they aren’t content with just small improvements. As I mentioned before, I love seeing Remedy grow and continue to do new things with their games, and Control seems like the perfect evolution and refinement of where Quantum Break was taking them. If you’re a fan of story driven adventure games, with unique powers and gameplay elements with high production values, then you can’t risk sleeping on Control.
Developer: Remedy Games
Publisher: 505 Games
Release Date: August 27th, 2019
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PC