Control is narratively the most ambitious work of Remedy , the most complex and at the same time the only one able to convince to the end both for the audacity shown by the concept, and for the way in which it is developed during the adventure.
At first glance, one could make the grave mistake of considering it a generic third-person shooter, as too many have seen it over the years; but when one understands the refinement and mastery of writing a Sam Lake in a state of grace, all one can do is to frame Control as the most enlightened project in the Finnish software house.
The Federal Bureau of Control is an American government agency dedicated to the research, discovery and containment of paranatural objects and phenomena. Its headquarters is the Oldest House : apparently it is an austere building in the center of Manhattan, but in reality it is a Place of Power constantly changing, or rather, a non-place that replicates, reflects and even distorts the materials within it, whose thin walls are incapable of dividing worlds and dimensions, which indeed flow into a single environment that escapes the laws of physics.
Inside, a mysterious supernatural entity called Hiss has settled , taking control of the agency’s men and turning them into envelopes dominated by an unfathomable destructive will. When the constraints of the flesh fail to contain the Hiss, it takes new forms, showing itself to be sentient, autonomous and with only one objective: to replace man. As Jesse Faden, who suddenly finds himself the new director of the Federal Bureau of Control after the death of the previous one, will have to defeat the threat and dig deep into the agency’s secret activities, including paperwork and numerous audio and video files that outline disturbing scenarios , fascinating and not always easy to read. The complexity of the plot is closely linked not only to science fiction and the paranormal, but also to the Jungian archetypes, to the concept of collective consciousness, to the astral plane, to the lability of space and time and to the probability of existence of multiple dimensions.
The result is a fascinating scenario, able to play credibly on abstract concepts and on the potential of the mind, without getting lost in trivial explanations, too artificial or hasty. Control is a continuous pleasure of discovery that lasts for about fifteen hours, a mystery that unfolds along enormous departments, rooms, tangible places that are mental projections that acquire familiar but deceptive forms. And the number of hours is destined to rise when searching for different secondary missions, some really important and unmissable, which show how Remedy took care of both the title in question and an IP that is ready to expand in directions that still we struggle to imagine, also thanks to some references to Alan Wake.
Control , reduced to a minimum, is a third-person shooter that basically does not invent anything new, but it is precisely through its simplicity that it manages to unite what good Remedy has built over the years.
Jesse, following a mysterious accident during his childhood, acquired supernatural powers. Finding the so-called Objects of Power within the Oldest House, and freeing them from its constraints, it is able to channel its properties in order to develop new skills. Abilities that are optional and that you might not even use at all to get to the credits, but which undeniably give a great help in the most advanced stages.
Among these, there is the possibility of levitating for a few seconds and placing oneself in an advantageous position, or hurling objects at enemies through telekinesis, or even dodging at the speed of light or creating a sort of protective wall made up of debris and rubble . In addition to this, Jesse is equipped with a service weapon that can change its shape, passing from a gun with standard bullets to others that include the possibility of piercing walls and armor, of exploding like grenades and of dramatically increasing the cadence of fire. Both the powers and the shots fired have a few seconds of cooldown, which is why it will be necessary to alternate them carefully to avoid being left unguarded in time of need.
The conflicts on fire and more generally the battles always manage to convince thanks to their dynamism and to the way in which structures and pillars collapse and crumble when they are broken by your attacks and those of the enemies.
Interchangeable weapons modules can be inserted into special slots, which increase in number when experience is gained: some are released by enemies or bosses, while others are available in the game areas. They are essentially buffs that improve health, energy, the power with which objects are hurled or the speed with which the power bar is restored; the others, applicable to weapons, improve or enhance one of the forms of the gun.
Although it does not follow exactly all the main features, the progression of the game in Control is inspired by the metroidvania. A note could be moved to the substantial absence of variations of environments, given that the entire adventure develops within a gigantic building divided into several floors, but ultimately Control manages not to fall victim to its own concept, offering everything added to the excellent cues of the moments in which the player will tend to lose contact with the familiarity of the typical explorations.
In this regard, consider the presence of a hotel that acts as a bridge between one macro area and another, or sections where unpredictability will always leave room for surprise and the sense of blind discovery, disconnected from map consultations.
Technically Control offers excellent visual glimpses, especially when the effects of room demolition alternate with bold visual solutions composed of filters and color compositions that tend to fade. The polygonal modeling is good but not excellent, and is especially noticeable with secondary characters.
On PC it is possible to benefit from the Ray Tracing and more generally from the best version of the game, while on PS4 standard some stuttering must be reported both during the phases of combat and during the reproduction of video files. These are not problems that affect Control’s enjoyment , but are rather obvious and certainly not a sporadic condition: on the contrary, it is a compromise that you will have to accept until the end of your bewitching and splendid adventure, which redefines the canons of games for which Remedy has become famous.
Control is a large-scale project that can expand in new directions never seen before in the genre to which it belongs. Complex and intelligent writing, able to mix apparently irreconcilable elements with ease, shows how Remedy is in a state of grace. In the same way, even the dynamics of the fire conflicts contain all the best so far shown by the Finnish software house. Control is really one of the best titles of the year, one of the most convincing and interesting fiction experiments.