Control’s been on my radar ever since it came out and now that the complete edition is out I decided it was time to give it a play.

I was very pleasantly surprised to discover that not only is it an incredible action game but it may be the best game that’s come out in at least the last few years.

To start things off with this review let’s take a look at the trailer:


Control hectic combat screenshot


The story involves a place called “The Oldest House” and the Federal Bureau of Control (FBC). The FBC is essentially a government agency that deals with weird paranormal stuff like psychic phenomenon, aliens, alternative dimensions and fun stuff like that.

If you’re familiar at all with SCP stuff then you’ll know exactly what it’s all about.

They basically investigate anything that’s weird and bring back strange objects that do strange things and keep them contained at their headquarters in The Oldest House.

The Oldest House is a very strange thing as well. It’s basically a building that’s disguised itself as a building in New York. You can only find it if you know exactly what you’re looking for. Everyone else just wanders past and they have no idea it’s even there.

It’s a strange building connected to different dimensions and the kind of place where if you’re working there you can find yourself trapped somewhere because the building layout just suddenly changed on you. It makes for an absolutely fantastic setting for the game because you can do so many creative things with this location that I’m not going to spoil in this review.

One thing I especially loved here is even though the Federal Bureau of Control  deals with all kinds of crazy paranormal and sci fi things it’s still a government agency so all these amazing things are incredibly mundane. Imagine if the employees at the DMV were investigating things like a fridge that could kill you if you stop looking at it and you’ll kind of get the idea. There’s a lot of office politics and fun stuff like that too because lets face it, if there really was a federal agency like this it would be full of office politics and other bureaucratic nonsense.

You play as Jessie Fayden. When Jessie was a kid there was an incident in her hometown where they accidentally opened a portal to other dimensions. The FBC came in and quarantined everything, fixing the problems and confiscating the device responsible but they also took Jessie’s brother.

Jessie spent her whole life trying to track down her brother and figure out why the FBC took him.

At the start of the game she’s finally found their headquarters at the Oldest House and enters the house. She enters just as inter-dimensional ghost creatures called the Hiss have taken over and the whole building gets put on lockdown.

Due to a series of bizarre events she ends up as the new director of the FBC and is put in charge of defeating the Hiss, saving the bureau and at the same time trying to rescue her brother and find out why he was taken in the first place.

It’s easily one of the best written and most creative stories I’ve ever seen in a game.


Ahti the janitor


Control plays like a standard third person action game but with some serious twists.

You have a single gun called “The Service Weapon” which can be upgraded and swapped into different forms like a shotgun, long range piercing gun, machine gun and stuff like that. Shooting controls more or less like it would in any other game but since it’s something like a “magic” gun it’s got infinite ammo and just needs to recharge from time to time.

Where the gameplay really shines though is with the psychic powers you get to use.

Throughout the game you learn a bunch of crazy powers just like something a Jedi in Star Wars would use. Your main power that you’ll end up using a ton of in combat is a psychic grab and throw where you can grab any object or chunks or the wall or floor and throw them at enemies.

You also get a levitation ability that lets you fly around the battlefield as well which is a ton of fun.

In addition to those you have several other skills like a shield, the ability to control enemies and make them fight for you and stuff like that.

The combat is frantic and you’re constantly moving around almost like you would in a game like Doom.

As you move around you’re using a mixture of you gun and psychic powers switching both of those up as one or the other needs to recharge.

Combat is hectic and makes you feel like an awesome powerful psychic but at the same time you have to pay attention to your surroundings, constantly move and make sure the enemy doesn’t get a jump on you. Overall I can’t say enough things about how well the combat works.

When you’re not fighting you’re exploring the oldest house and this is where there are Metroidvania elements as you’ll be returning to old areas of the house as you unlock more abilities.

Exploration is a ton of fun. There’s a lot of interesting things they do with the setting and there are secrets, upgrades and lore memos hidden everywhere.


FBC offices


I played on PC and the big highlight here is that this was the first game to use ray-tracing which I do have to say was pretty cool. The game does a lot of very interesting things with the lighting effects that I’ve never seen before.

Other than that though the graphics are very nice but not amazing. They’re certainly not bad by any means and the art direction is fantastic but overall they didn’t blow me away.

The ray tracing didn’t blow me away either to be honest. Since I knew to look for it and I’ve played a lot of games before it definitely caught my attention and I played around with different light shafts here and there to see how it worked. It’s definitely neat but honestly most of the time you’re running around fighting enemies and you don’t really notice.


Haunting scene control screenshot

Music and Sound

The music is solid but nothing really stood out that much with the soundtrack. This is the kind of game that’s going for a more ambient sort of feel so the music is soft and in the background. Most of the time you don’t really notice it but it does help to create the overall sort of lonely survival horror feel the game is going for.

There is one crazy sequence though where they play a famous rock song and it may be the highlight of the entire game so look forward to that.

The sound effects are fantastic. Everything from the sound of your gun to footsteps to quiet and creepy sounding background ambiance is great to listen too. The Hiss enemies themselves have this weird creepy speech that you constantly hear everywhere. It feels very alien and puts you on edge.

The voice acting from everyone is excellent. You’ll encounter everything from battle hardened military personnel to government office bureaucrats and they acting with everyone is really great.


The panopticon


If you buy the complete edition like I did you’ll also get two major pieces of DLC. Both of them add a whole new area and about 5 hours of gameplay each.

The Foundation DLC has you exploring the foundation caves below the Oldest House which are a very unique looking location. It goes into more of the backstory behind the house itself and how the FBC was established.

The AWE DLC adds another “Investigations Wing” to the oldest house and ties back to the game Alan Wake which was made by the same developers. The events of Alan Wake happened in the same universe as Control.

I’ve never actually played Alan Wake so I didn’t get a lot of the references in this DLC but I still enjoyed it a lot anyways.


Floating combat

In Conclusion

I absolutely loved Control and finished every sidequest and found every secret.

It’s a phenomenal action game with survival horror elements and one of the most unique stories and settings I’ve ever seen.

If you like the genre and horror elements don’t put you off (they’re not too bad though) then you definitely need to pick this game up and give it a play.

Images from the official Control website used under Fair Use.