I saw and/or played in-depth demos of 25 upcoming games at this year's E3, but none of them were as exciting to me as Remedy's latest mind-bender, Control. The demo found a good balance of setting up what players can expect from the game while also leaving a heavy dose of classic Remedy mystery to be unraveled later. In a post-demo Q&A session, I asked a lot of questions as well, and if you add it all up you get this round-up of everything we know so far about Control. Let's break it all down!
You are Jesse Faden, newly appointed Director of the FBCJesse is played by Courtney Hope, whom Remedy devotees will recognize as Beth Wilder from Quantum Break. Control centers on Jesse's new role as director of the Federal Bureau of Control, a secretive government organization whose job duties are only teased by Remedy right now. Jesse's predecessor, Trench, is missing, so she's claimed his position and now navigates the ever-shifting halls of the Bureau's headquarters.
The Federal Bureau of Control is up to some weird stuffAs mentioned, we don't quite know the purpose of the FBC's existence in the first place, but when I pressed Remedy's Thomas Hudson for more details, his teasing response was somewhat revealing. I asked whether the FBC could be viewed as something like "if the X-Files division was more than just Fox Mulder in a basement." He seemed to like that analogy and joked about not being able to confirm or deny the existence of the FBC in our real world.
A supernatural phenomenon is plaguing the world within ControlThe antagonists in the game are those afflicted with something called the Hiss. Its name reminded me of those stories you read on spooky sites about strange humming or buzzing sounds heard by entire neighborhoods or cities without explanation. I'm not sure if that was an inspiration, but those tormented by this Hiss become violent and aggressive toward Jesse and presumably others.
Jesse can counter the Hiss with her own telekinetic powersFor reasons we don't yet know, Jesse has some otherworldly abilities she can employ offensively and defensively. In the demo I saw, she lifted rubble off the ground to shield her from harm before flinging that rubble at enemies. She was also able to lift most anything in the room, like chairs or air canisters, and throw them at these Hiss baddies. Of course, she can even lift herself, and she did so often to solve traversal problems like damaged or totally absent walkways one couldn't otherwise get across. People who saw the trailer often spoke of its similarities to Quantum Break, and I agree some of the tech and visual flourishes used in Control are quite reminiscent of Remedy's most recent game, but the story, setting, and her powers all feel vastly different.
The strange gun Jesse has in the trailer is her FBC-issued Service WeaponAlongside her telekinetic abilities, Jesse also has what's officially called the Service Weapon. If you saw the trailer, you saw how it morphs and offers different functions. Much like the FBC itself, we're still left scratching our heads about how or why it exists in this way, but knowing Remedy, they have a fun and really weird answer for that later.
The setting is inspired by the brutalism art movementBrutalism is an art style that utilizes lots of straight lines and modular, repeated parts that give environments perpendicular lines which keep them looking clean and predictable. The FBC building is designed in such a way and it's meant to be juxtaposed by the corrupting influence of the Hiss, which tears apart and reforms all it comes in contact with. This juxtaposition was front and center in our demo.
The game plays like a Metroidvania with optional side missionsFor the first time ever, Remedy is doing side missions. When they spoke of Control months ago, at the time it was still just "P7," they said it was a goal to bring more replay value to the experience, which for many players their strictly linear games of the past did not offer. This time around you'll encounter other people in the FBC building. Some will be friends, others foes, but many in either case will offer you additional objectives to complete which help you flesh out the story and explore more of the setting. Often times you'll encounter locations which you can't enter just yet, but later you'll come back to them with the proper tools or abilities like classic Metroidvanias.
The black pyramids from the key art and trailer are importantWe don't know why yet, but in the demo Jesse remarks about the inverted "black pyramids" she comes across. Toward the end of the demo we see her levitating off toward one and into something called the Astral Plane. It's already feeling like a classic Remedy mind melt and Control was only revealed days ago. It's going to be a fun lead-up to release.
Control mixes in live-action in an Alan Wake sort of waySome people didn't like the way Quantum Break utilized live-action episodic content between levels, but it wasn't the first time they put real people in their video games. Alan Wake did it with much more acclaim, like when you could stumble upon episodes of the Serling homage, Night Springs or when Alan caught himself going mad inside Bird Leg Cabin via haunted televisions. Control uses live-action in this subtler way too. In the demo, Jesse would often see something akin to apparitions of former director Trench when she was exploring the FBC building. They were made with live-action but now amount to shadows being cast upon Jesse's world. Yet again the why and how are the fun parts we'll have to wait to find out later.
The Oldest House turns setting into characterOne thing I think Alan Wake did exceptionally well which Quantum Break sorely missed was how the setting was really more like an important character in the story. Bright Falls was a crucial part of Alan's story, whereas Riverport didn't feel like it had to be the setting for Quantum Break. In Control, it's already apparent that the Oldest House, as the FBC building is called, is going to be extremely important to the story. The way it is constantly shifting and being distorted by the Hiss (and perhaps by its own design) is yet another mystery we can't wait to unravel.
There is a non-zero probability of there being Alan Wake references in Control I made sure to press the Remedy devs on this one. Their answer, while deliberately vague, pointed to what I feel I can safely call a non-zero chance, by which I mean there will definitely be some more Alan Wake references. They told me they appreciate that their fans adore the game and they certainly do too. Then they gave me another line about not being able to confirm or deny the inclusion of Wake easter eggs. So look out for those!
You can find the reveal trailer here and enter the Oldest House when Control releases in 2019.
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