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Since the lockdown, I have finally been able to get into that backlog of games I need to play that only seems to keep getting longer. After seeing Control by Remedy Entertainment on Playstation Now I thought what better time to get myself a subscription to the gaming service I wouldn’t usually have time to make the most of. So here are my thoughts on this amazing but mind-boggling game which I am very glad to have played.

With visuals that feel somewhere between a dream and a nightmare along with a powerful score that is perfectly matched with its audio effects ‘Control’ is a game that makes full use of the video game medium. Where some games are happy with having great graphics and a great soundtrack ‘Control’ seeks to marry the two to set a flawless tone that draws you into the ‘Bureau’.

An unassuming office block in New York, the ‘Bureau’ is the sole location of ‘Control’ and will need to be explored thoroughly by the protagonist Jesse as you progress through the game. A single location can often be to the detriment of games with samey backgrounds becoming irritatingly dull, but this game makes great use of the traditional office decor. Psychedelic visuals that scream Maurits Escher are only made more powerful by the conventional offices you must navigate and whilst I did find myself a little lost from time to time this did detract from my experience of the game instead of adding a layer of impressiveness as I sometimes struggled to find my way amongst the ever-changing layout.

Before ‘Control’ starts ‘The Bureau’ is attacked by an unknown entity dubbed the ‘Hiss’ by our protagonist. Your main objective in the game is to find your brother Dylan, to do this you will have to fight back the ‘Hiss’ as you investigate the secretive agency that is the ‘Bureau’. Along the way, you will encounter many colourful characters each with their own motivations and goals in the wake of their devastating attack committed upon them. The three characters you will be spending most of your time with are Zachariah Trench and Polaris. None of which are human.

Polaris; an entity separate to the ‘Hiss’ that guides you through the ‘Bureau’ and talks to Jesse telepathically across the game.

Zachariah Trench; The previous Director of the Federal Bureau of Control, his consciousness becomes one with your one and only weapon of the game, the Service Weapon.

Service Weapon; Sporting multiple forms this weapon has a function for every combat situation the Service Weapon may be the most powerful tool that the ‘Bureau’ has to offer and can only be wielded by the Director. This all-purpose gun will be your most trusted companion throughout ‘Control’.

A mixture of the Service Weapon and supernatural powers drawn from the game’s objects of power (the service weapon is one these said objects of power) is how you will be fighting back the ‘Hiss’. You will need to utilise both of these to their utmost to survive; your Service Weapon’s ammunition never runs out but will require charging if used too much creating a balancing act to combat that stands out amongst third-person shooters. Fast-paced action encourages aggressive and bold combat plays as you sprint from cover to cover. Certain weapon forms and powers are effective against different enemies making an ebb and flow to combat that is fun and rewarding, this culminates in a gameplay section towards the end of the game which is just sublime and really demonstrates how much work Remedy have put into Control’s combat.

A decent upgrade tree for each of these powers will mean you can focus on the ones you find most effective. I never felt that I was forced down one path in particular, whilst the Launch ability (acquired early in the game) is very powerful there are enough enemies that are strong against this power that it doesn’t feel like you should only focus on this. Each upgrade path has additional abilities for the powers such as being able to push a shield around your character towards enemies turning defence into attack. In my play-through I found the pierce and grip forms of the Service Weapon along with the Launch and Seize powers my best combination. How you upgrade your powers may influence which weapon forms you favour.

It is rare that a third-person shooter manages to create combat that feels as quick and energetic as a first-person shooter; with ‘Control’ Remedy Entertainment has almost perfected this. Whilst the combat in ‘Control’ is excellent it can become very challenging during the midsection of the game laying bare a flaw in the game’s otherwise flawless execution. If and when you die in combat you will re-spawn at the last control point you accessed, which is fine, but as you head off to get your own back you will find that the enemies numbers are greatly reduced. A part of the game’s dynamic difficulty progress does not always feel earned as you are essentially rewarded for your loss. Death in Control will see you lose 10% of the game’s currency that is used to upgrade your Service Weapon but this did not mitigate how annoyed it made me that I couldn’t really take my revenge on those who had made me suffer defeat.

I don’t like to put a score on games but this is definitely a 10/10 there are no major faults and any minor ones are just my preferences. Check this game out now!

Here is a short clip of Control in motion, sorry I couldn’t get a more interesting gameplay section