As far as I’m concerned, there’s no better gaming experience than being fully immersed in an interesting story that motivates you to keep playing with well-designed combat and intricate level design. So, Imagine my surprise when I found a game that managed to tick all of those boxes with ease.
Control was released in August of 2019 and has undoubtedly left a mark on the video game world. I’ve heard it brought in so many comparisons but I had never the pleasure of playing this game myself. Well, that all changed when Control landed with a bang onto Xbox Games Pass and I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into this game.
Control managed to pull me in from the word go and I was eager to explore this new world and uncover all of the mysteries that were being presented and it has been a long time since I’ve felt that sensation in a game and, safe to say, I was not disappointed by my experience, especially since it was already available for me to play.
So, as we roll into 2021, I thought it was the perfect time to take a look back at the game that caused so many waves the year before and see whether or not it’s worth taking the time to play this game all the way through ad whether or not this is the single-player delight it’s supposed to be. Without further ado, let’s see if Control is still good in 2021.
So, What’s It All About?
Control is a third-person action-adventure game filled with a strong element of suspense although I would classify this more like a supernatural thriller rather than a horror game. You play as Jesse Faden, a regular civilian that has arrived at the Federal Bureau of Control to try and find her brother Dylan.
Jesse manages to enter the building without much difficulty and we start the game by navigating towards the Director’s Office to being the search but instead of finding answers, we are only met with more questions as we discover that the Director has taken committed suicide with his own weapon.
Guided by her “guardian angel” Polaris, Jesse picks up the gun known only as The Service Weapon and is immediately transported to the Astral Plane. An alternate dimension with nothing but an empty white void in the background. Here, she begins the ritual and, after successful completion, is selected by an entity known as The Board to be the FBC’s new Director.
That’s when the main enemy of the game, labeled as “the Hiss” by Jesse, make their first appearance. She is informed by The Board that the Hiss has infiltrated the FBC and taken over the building by possessing and morphing several of the agents inside the building as their corruption spreads.
Together with the surviving agents, and as the new Director of the FBC, Jesse must help to defeat the Hiss and stop them from breaching the lockdown so they can enter into the outside world and corrupt the masses. All while trying to find out what happened to her brother after he was abducted by the FBC.
— Stevius Maximus (@SteviusM) December 10, 2020
So, What’s Good About It?
Right off the bat, Control has to be up there with some of the best looking games I’ve played this year. From the cutscenes to the in-game animations during dialogue, it is just gorgeous to look at. I mean, most of the content I uploaded during my playthrough was screenshots of the levels and close-ups on Jesse’s face during some scenes.
That artistic perfection pours over into the level design as well. The entire FBC building, known as the Oldest House, is way bigger on the inside than it looks in the exterior opening shot of the game. It seems completely normal that this building would have some paranormal architecture inside and they put a lot of this space to good use.
It does get a bit tiring being inside the same building but the overall design breaks up the monotony quite well as each room feels like it serves a purpose to the building and to the work they do at the FBC, even though it doesn’t necessarily serve a purpose to the player.
And, if you really feel the itch to break something, nearly every object in the game can be destroyed and hurled with Jesse’s telekinetic abilities. Including the walls, desks, fire extinguishers, and much, much more. Nearly every piece of the environment, including the enemies themselves, can be used as a weapon.
The action in this game has a lot of variations as you go from linear hallway sections to full-on arena-like sections that just see you unleashing all your skills and abilities to take out all the enemies around you and it feels like a ton of fun every time these encounters happened. Especially with the different abilities that you have at your disposal.
As you progress through the game, Jesse will bind herself to Objects Of Power that grant her special abilities. Each of these abilities opens up a lot of room for experimentation in each battle and you get a good opportunity to refine your playstyle as your progress and get the most out of the skills you value the most.
If that’s not enough, there’s good old fashion run and gun action that you get from wielding the Service Weapon. Instead of carrying a multitude of weaponry, the Service Weapon is able to morph into different forms that transform it into a pistol, sub-machine gun, or even a shotgun.
These days, collectibles and hidden extras are commonplace but Control did a great job of making me feel like I was actually being rewarded for taking the time to scavenge all these documents and audio recordings that expanded on the universe in a very interesting way.
The best part is the fact that it’s not a requirement to fully understand the story. I highly doubt it would have affected my experience but I like that I was able to make a deeper connection to the mystery surrounding the Faden family and many of the other important characters that feature in this story.
It was a compelling ride that explored some interesting themes of philosophy and the supernatural, proposing a lot of deep questions and then giving me the freedom to choose whether or not I wanted to go further down that rabbit hole and answer them. It kept me engaged and motivated me just that little bit extra to see those credits roll.
— Stevius Maximus (@SteviusM) December 21, 2020
So, What’s Bad About It
The Service Weapon is a great idea on paper and I think it’s a great concept for video games to follow. Having one weapon that can morph into different forms and change the way it operates is awesome and helps explain how video game characters can sometimes carry so many weapons at once.
Then why does this game only allow me to select two weapon forms at a time? It frustrates me that such a cool mechanic is restricted in such an unnecessary way. Watching the weapon form transform as you switch mid-game is dope and I can’t help but wonder how much cooler the gameplay could have been if I could cycle through all the different weapon forms that I’ve unlocked and use them in each fight.
It feels like a missed opportunity for me to get creative since I inevitably stuck with the two forms that I got the most use out of and, once they started getting upgraded, didn’t feel the need to use any other form because switching to a third form feels tedious during a firefight.
Luckily, Jesse’s supernatural abilities make up for a lot of the imagination lost with these restrictions on the Service Weapon. I probably would have been motivated to complete more of the side quests that they had on offer if upgrading more than two weapons felt important but relying on Jesse’s abilities was more than enough to handle any enemy.
If you’ve been following me on Twitter, then you know how much fun I’ve been having with this game and I got through the main campaign with an extreme sense of satisfaction, like, I had seen all that I had wanted to see and, even though there’s a lot of endgame content to enjoy, I don’t feel like I’ll be missing much if I don’t complete it 100%.
I will definitely be returning to the FBC one day when I review the DLC campaigns and maybe try to explore more of that juicy lore that The Board, Director Trench, and the Faden family may be hiding but for now, this game has given me a near-perfect single-player experience and I’m happy to put it aside and give it my firm recommendation.
Especially if you’ve already got your hands on the Xbox Game Pass, which is where I played it and I’m certainly glad I did. It’s not absolutely flawless and lacking in some areas for sure, but the good easily overshadowed the negative and I was honestly just having too much fun to be that annoyed.
— Stevius Maximus (@SteviusM) December 26, 2020
Have you played Control? What did you enjoy or dislike about the game? Let me know in the comments section below.