Reviews - Updated on April 9, 2022

Max Payne was released 18 years ago, but it still remains the hallmark of the Finnish studio Remedy – even though the rights to the series no longer belong to it. In 2010, Alan Wake appeared, in 2016 – Quantum Break; solid, good action, but not for a second cult. The main character of Control, the new Remedy game, is called Jessie – she is not as sharp-tongued as the misanthropic cop Max, and instead of pathos aphorisms, she speaks phrases about the paranormal. However, this is not a reason to write off the game for scrap.

Ministry of Magic

I would like to start talking about the game Remedy with a plot, but it’s too early to judge it by the first two hours of the game. Somewhere in New York is the Federal Bureau of Control – a sort of SCP Foundation. The main character comes there in search of her brother and finds that the building is empty, and the director of the Bureau shot himself. She picks up his gun, and he solemnly appoints her as the new director. Then something supernatural and inexplicable begins: parallel worlds, otherworldly voices and other mysticism.

After about half an hour, Jesse talks to the dead director, pulls the rope three times and moves to another place and, it seems, to another era, in order to return back after some time – this game will give odds to the odious The Evil Within in terms of the unceremonious change of scenery. Control, like Shinji Mikami’s horror, sometimes tries to scare the player, but at the same time hands him endless ammo – what’s the point of being afraid of something if the source of fear can always be shot?

Local enemies are called iss (from the English word hiss – “whistle” or “hiss”) – they somehow escaped from the control of the Bureau, got firearms and moved into people. The director’s pistol works flawlessly against them: Jesse kills dozens of iss. Why she does this and who she is, the player is not supposed to know – it seems that even the heroine herself knows the answers only approximately.

She fights excellently: in the very first battle, the game poured out a dozen opponents on me, and, fighting, we smashed a good half of the room to dust. Destroying the entire building, as in Battlefield, will not work, but small objects – chairs, fire extinguishers, pieces of walls – break only in this way. The game knows that destroying objects is fun, and does not hesitate to build gameplay around this mechanic: Jesse quickly gains the ability to telekinesis, and well-aimed throws of everything that is not nailed to the floor kill iss more effectively than pistol shots. Jessie will always find something to throw: even in an empty corridor, she will simply tear out a tile or piece of concrete from the floor.

Control game preview

Telekinesis, among other things, is ideal for running generators. Admit it, you love generators – otherwise why do you have to interact with them in every second shooter?

Hiss and Tear

One on one, Jessie is much stronger than any ordinary ISS, so they don’t get involved in a fight one by one, preferring to crush them with numbers. Issas rarely appear in the corridors – most of the battles in the game take place on spacious arenas, often also multi-level, where enemies attack in crowds from three sides.

It is usually impossible to sit in cover and shoot back to victory: there are no large safe zones in the arenas, and small ones – columns, tables, bar counters and all that – instantly shatter into pieces. I have seen the opinion that in Quantum Break, for the sake of their own good, the player needs to ignore cover and run straight into the firefight. In Control, you absolutely have to do this, because health does not regenerate during battles, and first-aid kits drop from dead enemies and remain lying on the corpse – just like in 2016 DOOM. To pick them up, you have to jump around the arena as a saiga, and it’s fun – it’s a pity that Remedy, unlike id, did not add spectacular finishing moves.

With a variety of enemies, alas, not so hot: in two hours of the game, I met only two types of opponents, not counting the boss. Shooting issies are anthropomorphic, while exploding ones look like a hybrid of Demomen and Jumpers from Dead Space. The former are easy to kill with melee, the latter should be kept away. Luckily, telekinesis works great against both.

Control game preview

The game has a map, but even without it it is usually clear whether you visited the location or not – just look at the condition of the floor and stairs.

Controids

Most of the battles in the game are fought over the so-called access points – checkpoints between which Jesse can teleport. At the points, they are allowed to save, buy upgrades for weapons and perks, and also take additional quests like “Kill ten enemies with headshots.” Who issues these tasks is unknown. Jessie is not interested in this – she generally has too few questions about what is happening. Suspiciously low, I’d say.

The game needs access points because it is non-linear. Remedy added elements of metroidvania to Control: the direction of movement is not dictated, many areas of the map are immediately open for exploration, and there are doors in locations that require a higher level of access than the one the player currently has. So there is backtracking. Special abilities, like the aforementioned telekinesis, are scattered all over the map and are taken from the so-called objects of power – dangerous anomalous entities taken, it seems, straight from the SCP fund.

When asked about the duration of the game, they answered me: “15 hours” – a lot for a shooter, not enough for a metroidvania. At the press show, I played two games and am waiting for the release: I liked the gunfights, and I also want to understand at least a little what is happening in the game in general.

Control game preview

The game does not say directly what era is in the yard. The heroine is dressed in a modern way, but the computers in FBK look like personal computers from the 80s, and Dr. Darling, the man in the portrait, presents eight-inch floppy disks as the latest achievement in science and technology: “Just think, as much as 80 kilobytes of memory!”

***

Control does not invent anything new: it is safe to say about each of its components that it has already been met somewhere. The idea to cross a shooter with metroidvania still cannot be called innovative, and only bugs are truly unique in the game: for example, textures disappeared from all objects in one of the rooms, and the walls were painted in acid colors. However, to say that Control is secondary, the language will not turn. One gets the feeling that the game knows very well what it wants to be – with the possible exception of the plot, the plot of which seems rather vague.

Nevertheless, it is not yet clear how the new Remedy creation is going to surprise and catch. I can’t imagine what should happen for the game to receive a rating below “Commendable”, and I sincerely advise all fans of the genre to pay attention to it – but I doubt that it will become a revelation and eternal love for someone. Pleasant entertainment for a few evenings, no more.

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