Control Game Review: Is it Worth Playing in 2024?

Conspiracy theories existed since ancient times. Every time something that shatters our perception of reality comes to light, we turn to conspiracy theories. After all, we’re all trying to make sense of the world. Some more legible than others, but it acts as a way for humans to process unfathomable or fantastic events that couldn’t be comprehended. But what if, a government entity exists right under our noses, responsible in containing and control these events that would usually be filed together in the same file as Big Foot of the Loch Ness Monster? Insert a couple of exciting and polished gameplay mechanics, and you get the video game Control.

While Control was largely popular in North America, it didn’t make much of a splash in Asian countries, or at least in the country that we’re in. Learning about the existence of this game that seems to be winning numerous accolades seems intriguing enough for me to check it out. And lo behold, it is a game that dances around the concept of a hidden world controlled by a bureaucratic entity, one of our favorite tropes to have come to existence in recent years.

Game Story: The New Candidate

Control video game - Jesse Faden

Your First Few Steps

You’re immediately thrown into the situation together with the protagonist, Jesse Faden, and just like us, we have absolutely no idea what’s going on. All we know is that she’s looking for her brother, Dylan, taken from her years ago, and she’s been looking for a way to get to him. Her life has been constantly surveilled by a secret organization known as the Federal Bureau of Control, and now, she’s given first class access to come and enter the building.

Control - Bureau of Control

One of the exciting moments in the game is that the organization is housed in a building known as the “Oldest House”, which is a place that is visible only to the people tied to the organization. It exists with a perceptual filter to most human beings. Yes, it’s going to be one of those games. We quickly get acquainted with the mysterious janitor character, who oozed enigmatic presence with his riddle-like responses sprinkled with random Finnish words. After the weird interaction, you start your journey.

If that’s not weird enough, you find the previous Director lying in a pool of his own blood. Immediately after that, you are transported to the Astral plane. You are now the new director of The Bureau, hand picked by a group of paranatural entities known as The Board. Once you passed their test of your resolve and aptitude, you have the heavy burden of clearing out the singular anomaly that has wreaked havoc across the entire building, including specialized departments that study groups of categorized anomalies, some of them running amok. In your journey to reunite with your brother, you assist in eliminating an other-dimensional sentient resonance known as The Hiss. It corrupts anything biological, contorting and reshaping it into mindless monsters.

Stop The Invasion

The Hiss

As you collect new powers and gun modes running through the different departments of the Bureau, you’ll find interesting Objects of Power, people and even notes and recordings from different characters in the game. The story is fleshed out well, but still keeps you wondering throughout the gameplay. The characters are interesting and the voice acting transports you right beside the characters.

If you’re interested in sci-fi, thriller and the general Twin Peak vibes of feeling uncomfortable but can’t really explain it, this game will deliver that exact experience. Layers upon layers of secrets peeled out from the clutches and bureaucracy for you to finally see the truth. And even then, it doesn’t really tell you the whole truth. The best thing about the game’s story is that it offers a cathartic resolution in the form of powers and bullets. Shoot and smash your way to resolve any icky feeling that you get from the immersiveness of this game.

Game Tone: Corrupt Resonance in the Air

Control - Oldest House

There is a sense of heaviness with every step you take in this game. Once the responsibility as the new director of the organization was thrust upon you, every decision you make from that point onwards in now a burden. Each step you take towards rescuing your brother is another unveiling of a platter of weirdness that exists on this reality.

The film grain wash of the game paired with brutalist and early corporate America vibes, and some modern implementations of the Bureau is a beautiful environment to get lost in. Sure, the black and grey concrete walls and structures might get repetitive, but the feeling of something might just pop up the minute you enter an area is thrilling. Especially when you’ve acquired a new power up. The acting and voice over pulls you in further into the rabbit hole.

Here’s a fun fact: does the voice of the previous Director of the Bureau sound familiar? Zachariah Trench, the previous director before Faden takes over is played by the same voice actor who voiced Max Payne. Both the games are developed by the same developer. So you know that the storytelling department is definitely taken care of.

Gameplay: Multidimensional Threat

The Director

There is so many new and unique gameplay that can exist today, but Control equips itself with well-known gameplay mechanics and executes it perfectly. It’s mostly a third-person shooter gameplay, but it does it so well. You cycle through shooting your service weapon and using you various abilities. The service weapon, an Object of Power has the ability to morph into different weapon classes that can be effective dealing with certain types of enemies. The abilities that you collect through the game can be used in both offensive and defensive manners. Launching projectiles and building a kinetic barrier.

Powers and Abilities

Corrupted The Hiss

The other cool thing about this game is that you can generate debris as you use your weapon and powers. You acquire new powers from taming items known as Objects of Power. Breaking chunks of concrete as you shoot enemies behind pillars, tearing pieces of tiles and ceramic off the floor as you build a barrier. You could even use body’s of dead enemies as a projectile. The gameplay combination is endless and each playthrough has been a unique experience. One of the coolest powers we’ve come across is the Levitate ability. You float in the air, like a minor deity and wreak havoc to the entities around you. To get the Levitate ability fairly quick, check out this guide on Cleanse The Benicoff TV mission.

Difficulty and Length

Now, is Control a hard game? Yes it is hard game to complete. There is no difficulty option in Control, which hinders the game’s accessibility to a wider audience. However, the one difficulty gameplay has been universally accepted as it is just right to give you a good challenge. The satisfaction of completing missions and subduing objects of power is something the developers have perfectly balanced.

Control takes about 12.5 hours in order for you to complete the main mission story. If you’re a perfectionist striving to hit 100% completion, you’ll need around 38.5 hours to do so. 12.5 hours feels short considering the quality of dialogue and gameplay that comes with this game. So, spend some time checking out the side missions which offers new and novel experience. Some of the side missions will offer you additional powers. Read more about all the available powers in Control and how to get them.

What Makes Control Great?

Jesse Faden - combat

Control is one of those games that feels as a complete gaming experience. A feature that is severely lacking in game’s today. Heck, we don’t even see a proper and complete triple-A games being released half of the time now. Control is a good reminder that video games can be a complete product when you buy them. The experience will not be severely affected by any game-breaking bugs that exist when you play the game.

The care and meticulous planning that went into Control can be felt and seen as you play the game. The characters are well-written and given unique personas. The story is not spoon fed to the players but it pushes you to explore by yourself. You can miss out on certain powers if you decide to only follow the main mission. You’ll find new stages and bosses that will grant more game time and story.

Cutting Edge Game Tech

Powers - Shield

Control is also the first game to promote ray tracing as part of its graphics. With the technology that allows you to interact with your environment, it brings fluidity to how you control you environment. Instead of the abilities manifesting from thin air, this brings a level of realism summoning powers while playing the game.

Intriguing Storytelling

Control - The Hiss

The idea of uncovering the big conspiracy rub by a clandestine government agency is too hard to pass on. The game levels are designed to drag you deeper into the rabbit hole of universe breaking powers.

You arrive at the beginning of a crisis. You are given the trial to be the new director. Wielding an Object of Power weapon and possessing the ability to harness new abilities and skills beyond your wildest dreams.

Objects of Power

Control - Objects of Power

Objects of Power grants you abilities to help you in your battles with The Hiss. Most games treat new abilities with flashy cutscenes for a couple of seconds or a short explanation. In Control, we get a good chunk of lore for each ability you get. It is a journey to get these Objects of Power, containing and harnessing it. Get transported to the Astral Plane that doubles as a tutorial for your new found powers. The intensity of these objects are conveyed from recordings, documents and level architecture. It is an immersive experience leaving you wanting more. Conquer all the Objects of Power.

Final Verdict: The New Director

Control - The Board

Is Control a game worth playing in 2023? Absolutely.

Is Control a hard game? Yes, but it’s worth every checkpoint loads when you fail a level.

Control feels like a movie that you watch a rainy and cloudy Sunday. Maybe you’re looking to entertain yourself, but not with something mind numbing. Perhaps you’re looking to expand your horizon and look behind the curtain and discover the secrets of a hidden world. Control is a smart game looking to entertain and bring its player for a ride. Buckle your seatbelt Dorothy, because Kansas is going bye-bye!



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