Control is a third person, single player, action blockbuster made by Remedy Entertainment. Developers of Alan Wake, Quantum Break, and Max Payne. It’s a super stylish, fast paced, sci-fi horror action adventure that digs deep into MK ULTRA like conspiracies. This review will break down my opinions on this game, what I think of its gameplay, the story, and its presentation, and will contain spoilers. So without any further ado – let’s get into its story.


The story of Control is confusing, convoluted, controversial, and definitely cool. The story starts with the protagonist, Jesse Faden, arriving at the “Oldest House” – which is the HQ of the Federal Bureau of Control to search for her brother Dylan. Upon coming to the FBC, Jesse finds out the original director, Zachariah Trench, has committed suicide. As well as find out the entire Bureau has been taken over by the “Hiss”, and evil force that takes control over other agents and guards in the FBC. The main story you play, has you figure out what exactly happened to Trench, how the Hiss has taken over, and where your brother Dylan is. There are many other questions you aim to answer throughout the games side missions – which help to build the lore around the world.

So is the story good, is it compelling enough to keep you playing? For me, it really was. There is no doubt that the story is convoluted and sometimes hard to follow. Especially if you don’t want to read the hundreds of (kinda boring) lore strewn about the world. Prime candidates, AWE’s or Altered World Events, Polaris, the Hedron, HRA’s, and Objects of Power, all words when said individually are almost overwhelming, but are pillars to the games story and its world. But these concepts offer up something to look into. I found myself digging through mission just to get lore on aspects like “What is the Oceanview Hotel?”, and “what was Darlings thoughts throughout these events?”. They string together really well, and paint a fun, but fucked up, picture to strive toward.

What also really helps the story are the great characters. From Jesse, the strong woman protagonist who doesn’t take any shit from anyone. To Dylan, the fucked up little brother who’s possession makes for some truly disturbing scenes. To Trench, who’s silhouette appears from the grave to guide you and sometimes mock you throughout your journey. To the charming Janitor who’s role is more like the “Morgan Freeman” character. To the bubbly Emily Pope, who fucking loves data. They aren’t Breaking Bad level of deep, but deep enough to enjoy. And these characters, their interactions, and their acting, are fascinating enough to care about and also make the games playtime feel even shorter.

And that’s my biggest complaint. I did enjoy the story. Quite a bit actually. I thought it was intriguing enough to explore all the lore – collecting and reading every file I found and watching every slide in the world. I think Remedy did a wonderful job of crafting a unique action sci-fi story that touches upon the conspirator inside myself. But I wish is was a bit longer. One of my biggest complaints to this game is how short it is. I got through the main game’s story in a quick 10 hours – and dying a fair amount, watching every single cutscene, exploring all dialogue options, and reading all lore included in that time. If you picked up the games combat quickly & didn’t care too much for the lore, I can see the main story being complete in around 6-8 hours. This is a bit embarrassing, but I think it comes from the criticism from their previous title Alan Wake. Which was criticized for being a bit too drawn out, when it could’ve told its story in the same amount of time as Control. Overall though, it was a fun blockbuster to uncover on a rainy weekend.


In terms of actual control, Control does it well. Moving Jesse was fluid, and I never had one problem with controls. I think they paid extra attention to this, because if “Control” didn’t control well, well…that would be a headline everywhere.

Next I want to dig into the gameplay. Essentially, Control is built around these powers you equip and your weapon. Your gun, the “Service Weapon” takes 5 different forms that you uncover as your progress, and allows you to equip any two at a time. These go from the standard pistol, to the shotgun, to the sniper, to the submachine gun, to the rocket launcher. Each form feels vastly different, and each offer a different style of play. Oh yeah, and don’t worry about ammo. Your weapons are energy based, and “recharge” rather than reload. My favorite combo was the “Pierce” (the sniper), paired up with the standard pistol. This allowed me to rack in big damage from a far, keeping my distance, and utilize my powers and pistol to finish them off. But you could easily go the other route, and play more close quarters combat style. What I also enjoyed was the powerups you found along the world. This gives upgrades to each of your weapons forms. Such as close the choke on the shotgun, creating a tighter blast from further away. Or increasing your rate of fire on your submachine gun. These were vital to finding my right combo to compliment my powers.

And speaking of which, you’re also given 5 different powers. The Throw (picking up whatever in the world and throwing it at the enemy), the Shield, the Dash, the Seize (possessing an enemy allowing them to fight for you), and the Levitation (basic ally flying). You only start with one, and uncover the others later on, with levitation being uncovered quite late in the game. What’s great about the powers is that they are always equipped once you obtain them, and only hindered by your “power meter” which acts like your mana. Don’t worry it recharges rather quickly, like your weapons. The powers are what makes you feel “powerful”. As you get better, stringing together combos with your different powers and weapons becomes so satisfying, and adds another aspect of the game to keep you enthralled. I loved upgrading my Throw till I got to the point where I could throw almost anything at the enemy, doing massive AOE damage, which I would then finish with my Pierce shot from afar. I also enjoyed Levitating above the battlefield, throwing debris everywhere, and possessing any enemy low on health to do my bidding. Again, its really up to you on how you want to tackle these battles. Myself, I enjoyed the mass destruction.

And that leads me to talk about one aspect of the game that added to its overall impressive nature. In Control, almost everything is able to be destroyed, picked up, thrown, and destroyed again. Taking an enemy and throwing them through a window, or a pillar, crushing everything around it, and everyone under it, then pulling that dead enemy out of the debris, only to throw at another enemy…yeah…it feels good. It was really impressive to see just how much in the game was destructible and had physics. And to be honest, it felt like everything.

The enemies. This was a bit disappointing. They’re fun to shoot and throw around, but there isn’t much variety. Maybe about 5 – 6 constant enemies, with a few more that are more “mini bosses” and a few actual bosses. Not only that, but they’re also not very smart. You won’t see any sort of tactics, or even self preservation. Just another slog of mindless enemies at your disposal. Only a handful of times I felt actually challenged by them.

And that leads to my last gameplay point. Difficulty. This game is quite easy. If you spend the time to upgrade your weapons and powers, but the end of the game, you’re so far overpowered, you will rarely die, or even be challenged. It’s a shame really because this compounds the short playtime. I would’ve loved a bit more attention to detail in the enemy types. Making them have a bit more variety. Better AI. And I also wish they had some type of backstory. They’re nothing more than a toy in a sandbox, that you do as you wish with them. While it can be fun, it’s just not challenging.


Finally, I want to talk about the best part of this game. It’s presentation. Remedy uses its setting, sound design, and its cinematography to not only build its weird world around you, but enthrall you in it. The Oldest House looks like this cold, modern, large corporation at first, with large lobbys and wings with no one in them. But as you drive through and dig deeper, its more darker, sinister features appear. And damn, I love it. The feeling Remedy is able to pull from you – one that is uneasy, slightly disturbed, yet weirdly confident – nails exactly what Jesse would be feeling traversing through this.

The sound design is excellent. First off, the voice acting is phenomenal. Courtney Hope as Jesse is perfect, but Sean Durrie really steals the show. The weapons and powers sound great. The blast of the Pierce never gets old. And the sound of each different material hitting an enemies head is consistent with what it would sound like in real life. Impressive attention to detail. The music, or lack thereof, works. Because of the games setting, a traditional soundtrack wouldn’t work. But when the music does come in, it’s vast, it’s powerful, and ultimately, fitting. And all the odd nightmarish scenes and ambiance are done very well. Nothing sounds cheesy, or out of place, or forced. Which is exactly what you want from sound design.

The Cinematography is certainly a highlight for me. There is one scene with Jesse and Dylan, that takes this disturbing turn, and the games cinematography compliments its perfectly. I actually don’t think I’ve seen cinematography done in a game this way before. It’s very similar to Mr. Robot, with its sharp cuts, odd framing, and deep meaning behind each shot. To Remedy, I salute you. Because it doesn’t come across forced or cheesy. It works. And again, it adds to this disturbing foundation Remedy has built to place you on.

Getting technical, the games graphical quality is top tier. I was playing on PC, GTX 1080ti and i7 9700k. So while I was able to push the game a bit harder than most consoles, I had to sit at on medium-high to maintain 60fps. I also wasn’t able to take full potential of the RTX Raytracing features. But even without that, the game looks and plays great. Flying around large areas, with dozens of enemies around, chucking them through walls with falling debris and its physics everywhere, with reflections on every surface, all while streaming, and not much of a hitch. And in terms of lighting, volumetric lighting, screen space reflections, and a light film grain, give the game an even more refined veneer. That said, it’s taxing. If you want to play this game at 60fps on its full ultra settings with Raytracing, you will need a monster of a rig. On console, I’m unaware of performance (it doesn’t look good though). Look to Digital Foundry for that info. But I recommend you stick to PC for this to have finer control on your performance.

Final Thought:

Finally, Control by Remedy is a great game. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it. Its fucked-up & weird, yet enthralling, story, its compelling characters and voice acting, its fun and fluid combat, and its amazing cinematography, sound design, and graphical fidelity, all combined make for a game that I was completely engorged in and wanted to keep playing. Unfortunately, with a very short 10 hour play time, and not too much variety with enemy types or weaponry, it needs to bring a lot more to the table. I think the message overall is that we need to give Remedy Entertainment more money. A lot more. I’d love to know what they could do with a gigantic EA-like budget. I loved Max Payne and Alan Wake, and love how Remedy is using capital to hire real actors for great VO. But I would also love a lot more from them. Bigger worlds, more characters, more lore, more attention to detail, more great cinematography. And if publishers are worried about their games being “adult” or weird, just look at Kojima. The massive hype around Death Stranding is a tell-tale sign that gamers crave unique games with big headliners on the cover. But that’s really my critique on this game and I can’t wait to see what else becomes of this game or IP and what else Remedy does.

8.75 / 10