Jessie Faden just became the director of the Federal Bureau of Control. Plopped into this new role through a sudden circumstance, you will navigate The Oldest House, the headquarters of the FBC. Overrun by the Hiss, a mysterious paranormal force, it is your role to take back Control.
I had some time at E3 to demo Control, the new game from Remedy, developers of cult classic Alan Wake. The time and attention given to control shows in its art direction and combat particularly. Control looks to stun with its design and delight with its gameplay.
At the start of my demo, I was told I would “die… alot.” I soon found this wouldn’t be an issue as both traversal and combat are rewarding. Jessie moves through the interior of The Oldest House with a zippiness and responsiveness that’s lovely. There’s a certain speed to it all that reels you in quick, as you run, dodge, and shoot your way through the Hiss.
Combat is quick. Your weapon, the Service Weapon, dynamically morphs and shifts at the click of a button. I only saw a glimpse of this in my time with Control. One mode, Grip, offering a standard fire and the other, Shatter, a kind of energy burst, offered pleasing ways to deal with foes. I was intrigued by the design, one weapon able to transform to suit different needs. This is a familiar progressive weapon system that is displayed in a new, creative way.
Movement through the environment stood out as well. The Oldest House is a gigantic space and hidden throughout are powers that expand Jessie’s move set. Some offer offensive or defensive abilities, while others might aid in traversal. Finding one of these during my demo, the Evade ability, I was bestowed with an air dash that wouldn’t look out of place in Hollow Knight. The joy of 3D movement, especially when it feels as good as it does in Control, really shines as Jessie moves through the beautiful and captivating interior of the Oldest House.
The art direction impressed throughout. The design, lighting, and enemy movements all worked together to set a kind of foreboding chaos. Every new area entered displays a title card, similar to Dark Souls, with the font selection and stylized presentation serving to enhance the overall tone of Control, as well. I found myself genuinely impressed by the small details. Remedy displays an admirable understanding of the interplay between tone and aesthetic. The setting looks to be full of mystery, and the stylish presentation took me on a journey in my short hour with the game.
Remedy always impresses with their creativity, and with Control set in a non-linear world, this creativity will be on full display. I heard the term “metroidvania” several times during the demo, and I can’t wait to see how they draw inspiration from this beloved 2D genre. Seeing such a storied developer as Remedy tackle this approach to game design with the artistic expression in the demo was beautiful.
I am excited to see how Remedy tackles a more non-linear game with the tools they have honed through previous releases like Alan Wake and Quantam Break. The small snippet I played at E3 revealed an expansive world, shifting in intriguing ways as you explore. Remedy is poised to deliver a highlight of 2019 when Control is released on August 27th.