Does anyone remember a movie called The Adjustment Bureau that was released about eight years ago starring Matt Damon? Equally, does anyone remember the famous video game called Alan Wake done by Remedy Entertainment? If you do remember both titles, then half of this review will be pretty simple to sum up. Control is Remedy Entertainment’s latest third person action title—published by well-known 505 Games—and it seems to combine the concepts of both titles together to create a unique situation for the player to enter. Placed into a world of lies, manipulation and psychosis, our heroine must save the bureau she’s hated for so long to learn the truth behind her own past and possibly stop a ruined future. Control has been on our radar for quite some time here at Honey’s Anime and we’ve finally gotten the chance to play it for ourselves. Welcome to our review of Control for the PlayStation 4, you might want to sit down and read this if you wanted Control as well but weren’t sure if this game would satisfy your need for a similar title to Alan Wake.
What to Expect
Control is very much a supernatural/psychological third person action title that screams Alan Wake. Players assume the role of Jesse who has gained a powerful ability while investigating the bureau, a group capable of hiding behind the scenes in the world and altering events for their goals. Jesse quickly gains use of psychic powers and a reality altering gun to defeat a strange force she dubs, The Hiss. Shoot through various enemies and master your new powers to unlock even stronger weapons and skills while piecing together what happened in this place. With an adventure screaming government conspiracy and supernatural oddity, Control will tantalize gamers who truly love titles that scream strange and mysterious.
Jesse Faden has struggled her whole life to understand why those around her didn’t understand they were being manipulated. After losing her brother as a kid, Jesse began a quest to discover a secret organization unknown to all that seemed to have the ability to control various elements of the world. Jesse’s search led her to a bureau in New York that—on the outside—seemed normal but internally was something far more unreal. As she explores this strange building, Jesse ends up finding out that a strange force from an unknown origin has taken over the agents in the building and has corrupted reality all around her. Gaining a new power, Jesse now has become the Director and must fight back using her own odd powers if she ever hopes to escape this nightmare alive…
If you’ve played any Remedy Entertainment made game—Max Payne and Alan Wake to name a few—then you know they have a surreal style to say the least. Usually their games focus on heroes with problems internally that end up facing down dangers from various forces. Remedy Entertainment has mastered fusing narrative driven stories with solid third person action games and its for that reason we looked at Control with wide open eyes. Control stars a woman named Jesse who must battle supernatural forces that exist in the realm of reality. Using her psychic powers and strange reality bending gun, Jesse’s fight won’t be normal, but she won’t be fighting without some form of strength behind her. Control sounds like the best of Max Payne and Alan Wake, but does this third person shooter rise to such great levels? We find out in our full review of Control for the PS4.
As mentioned above, Control is a third person shooter/action title. Players must control Jesse and guide her through a strange world that seems filled with lies, manipulation and deceit. Madness could overcome Jesse—if it already hasn’t—but for now her mission is simple. Find the answers to what happened to her brother and why this mysterious bureau exists. Control has a truly bizarre plot that feels almost meta in approach but where Control succeeds in story, it fails occasionally in other areas.
Starting off with the positives, Control has a truly engaging plot that keeps you lost but equally gives you breadcrumbs to follow. Like Alan Wake, Control shines by putting players in a confusing situation that blends what feels like fiction and non-fiction together. Control even uses real world actors in some cutscenes to make you feel as if Jesse’s world is shattered and disoriented. No spoilers going forth from here but expect some interesting twists and turns that will make you go OHHH more often than not.
Where Control begins to unravel is in its gameplay and presentation. Control…controls quite well with solid action gameplay. Players can use Jesse’s unique psychic powers to throw items at baddies and even fly in the air for short durations to make battles feel almost Inception like. Jesse’s gun—called The Gun—will be your main weapon of choice as it can be altered into several variants of guns like shotguns, machine guns and even a revolver. As you play Control, you can find mods that increase the gun’s power for its different forms and even how quickly it regains ammo after it depletes. All these gameplay elements work well until you begin to see the problems when action becomes heavy on screen and things become hectic.
Frame rate and lag in Control are easily the biggest issue we had while playing. During our several hours with Control we ran into such huge lag spikes and frame rate drops that we actually got killed during bosses and huge shootouts due to our inability to react on what was going on. These problems get more numerous during the bigger boss sections when enemies are launching grenades, debris and other items at you constantly. We have reached out to Remedy Entertainment and they claim to know this problem occurs—and are working on it—but as it is now, Control plays like a PS3 game more than a PS4 title.
The other issue—and the last bit we want to discuss—is the overall presentation of Control. While Control has some sold character models, very cool settings effects and live-action settings, Control doesn’t always look next gen. Often, Control has a design that screams late PS3 era with some dry backdrops, muddled character designs and aesthetic. Control’s presentation is saved with some solid voice acting and live action work but Control feels as if should have released just a few months after Alan Wake did back in 2010. Don’t expect Control to look great…it won’t and that might cause you to sigh when you know Remedy Entertainment can make beautiful looking titles.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
Control is a hard game to recommend and not recommended. From out of the gate, Control pushes on you that you’re not to understand everything right away and it does a good job of keeping you in the dark about why things are happening around. If you loved Alan Wake’s strange quirky story filled with dark undertones and realistic ideas then you’ll enjoy Control. The Adjustment Bureau film also plays heavily into this narrative by sneaking in the thought that we as a society could be manipulated behind the scenes by forces we can’t—nor will ever—understand and that works in favor of Control. Where Control falters greatly is the visuals, gameplay and overall feel. Control at times plays quite strongly but often is held back by constant lag spikes, unexplained gameplay themes and visuals that don’t scream modern era. Remedy Entertainment has always had the power to capture gamers without having the strongest gameplay behind their titles and Control once more falls into that category. We can recommend Control to those desperately need a newer Alan Wake in their life and those who love bizarre supernatural stories set-in real-world concepts. To those who don’t love what we just talked about and are looking for a solid third person shooter then Control might be an easy game to pass on.
Intriguing and bizarre story with some well executed voice acting to keep you immersed
Entertaining third person action which gives you a strange gun and psychic powers
Tons of lore collectibles that enrich the story for those who like piecing together narrative
Visually looks dated and could be passed off as a PS3 title
Tons of lag spikes that cause frame rate issues galore
Repetitive gameplay that does overstay its welcome
Odd lack of direction explaining gameplay elements here and there
Honey's Final Verdict:
Control might lack some control—surprised we didn’t use that pun earlier—but it has a solid game beating behind a wall of mediocrity. We loved the gunplay and psychic powers in Control but equally felt they could have been done a bit stronger for a more entertaining experience. We have also heard that Remedy Entertainment is aware of the lag issues and strange frame rate problems and already is hard at work fixing that, but till we see that fixed, we had to mention it in our review. Control is a fun game, but one we think you can wait on if you don’t feel it’s worth $59.99. Are you still going to grab Control when it drops on the 27th? Let us know why—or why not—in the comments below! For more game reviews and gaming related articles, be sure to keep stuck to our hive here at Honey’s Anime!
Hey everyone I’m Aaron Curbelo or Blade as I’m called by my YouTube Subscribers. I’ve been an anime/manga fan since I was a young kid. In terms of anime I have watched nearly a thousand shows and have read hundreds of manga series. I love writing and honestly was so happy to join Honey’s Anime to get a shot to write articles for such a wonderful site. I’m a firm believer in respect in the anime community being the most important embodiment we should all have. We all love anime and we have varying opinions of series but we should respect one another for those differences! Life is too precious to spend it making needless arguments in a community that should be the shining example of loving an amazing medium. I hope as a writer for Honey’s Anime I can bring you folks some amazing articles to read and enjoy!