DLC Review – Control: AWE
When we reviewed Control last year we had nothing but praise for the game. The strong, weird action adventure game from the creators of Alan Wake and Quantum Break managed to pull through to become one of the biggest surprises of the year. An even bigger surprise is how this is all linked to the Alan Wake universe and we finally have an expansion that explores this connection.
**Spoilers for Alan Wake, Control and AWE’s opening section**
At the end of Control, Jesse has fully embraced the role as The Director of the Federal Bureau of Control (FBC), but the hiss has remained and the Oldest House is still under lockdown. AWE takes place shortly after the events of Control and the Foundation DLC (though Foundation isn’t needed to play AWE). It starts with Jesse receiving communications to go to the lost investigations sector.
As it turns out, Alan Wake is still trapped in the Dark Place at Cauldron Lake and has managed to find a way to communicate to Jesse through the hotline. He guides her way through much of the expansion. As it turns out, Dr Hartman is in the Oldest House and has been twisted by the Dark presence whilst also being corrupted by the Hiss. This creates the most unique monster in Control to date and Jesse must stop him before he can escape.
If you are expecting any closure or explanation of the events that happened during Alan Wake, you will be disappointed. But if you are like me and want a continuation of Alan Wake’s battle against the Dark presence, then AWE will provide exactly that. Even though Alan is stuck in the Dark Place, his presence is felt throughout with his signature narration taking centre stage. Then you’ve got an extensive amount of lore journals and audio logs that really deepens the universe and gives us a clue as to what’s happening. Very few games have me reading every bit of lore I can get my hands on, but Remedy continues to be the exception. However, a disappointingly abrupt ending and lack of post-game dialogue make it feel like this chapter is a little incomplete.
Gameplay is exactly what you would expect. It’s just more of Control and that’s a good thing. The frantic and difficult combat is combined with stunning level design and well designed combat encounters, but this DLC has it’s own gimmick. The main mechanic of Alan Wake the “Light vs Dark” shows its head every now and then for some more horror focused encounters. Whenever you enter the darkness, Jesse’s powers begin to drain and Hartman will have the ability to attack you. It can provide some generally tense encounters and the game makes sure to use this well in the fun, if a bit simple environmental based boss fights.
It’s a shame this mechanic is sparsely used and its full potential is never realised. No other Taken enemies exist and the light mechanic usually just boils down to environmental puzzles. There aren’t any new powers to mess around with, but we do have a new service weapon, plus an upgrade to launch that allows you to throw up to three objects at your enemies.
Even though we are delving into a new section of the Oldest House, it doesn’t offer anything new. For the most part, it’s an incredibly well designed area with combat arenas that allow you to truly make the most out of Jesse’s abilities. Although, you will often see the same assets and entire locations, such as the turntable rooms from the base game. This is possibly the biggest problem with AWE for me, it doesn’t really offer anything new. Instead what we get is more of the same. Not a bad thing by any stretch, but after the Foundation I was expecting a little bit more.
The brief four to five hour story will take you through multiple AWE events. Each have their own bizarre and interesting backstories, eventually leading into disappointing final encounter. It’s not the most densely packed expansion, but there is more than enough here to push you back into Control. Finally, there is the arcade machines that function as a new horde style modes. They aren’t anything unique or innovative, with only one location for the modes, but it still provides and interesting challenge you can jump into. Also in the arcade machines you will be able to replay some of Control‘s best moments. Including the outstanding “Ashtray Maze” section towards the end of the best game. The arcade machine is a neat addition that gives the expansion that little extra boost.
Control’s AWE Expansion doesn’t do much to innovate, but it doesn’t need to. It continues building on the already strong combat encounters of the original game whilst adding a small twist on that. The main draw is with the brilliantly crafted story that brings Alan Wake into the Control universe.
Final Verdict: 7.5
Control: AWE is available now on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.
Played on Xbox One X.
A copy of Control: AWE was provided by the publisher.