Tag Archives: Control

2019 Dream of Waking Video Game Awards

2019 Game of the Year

Control

Few games this year grabbed me like Control did. It combines a lot of things I already liked (creepypasta, Lost, Remedy Games, The X-Files) and put it into this beautiful, dark package.

Runner Up: Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

2019’s 2018 Game of the Year

Return of the Obra Dinn

What a unique adventure game. I was into it the minute it was announced as the next game from the maker of Papers, Please but it absolutely delivers as a tantalizing mystery and an experience that’s impossible for other media to replicate.

Runner Up: Timespinner

The “I Wish I Liked This More” Award for Games Everyone But Me Loved

The Outer Wilds

If you accused me of not giving The Outer Wilds a fair shake, you’d probably be right. I’ve played it long enough to figure out its “trick” but I haven’t gone back since. It’s obviously well loved by many, and I’m likely to go back and give it a real go someday this year, but I find myself challenged to start up a game that gives me such an easy stopping point.

Runner Up: Metro: Exodus

The “You Tried” Award for Games Punching Above Their Weight

Terminator: Resistance

Terminator: Resistance isn’t a great game. It’s a fairly basic FPS, only extraordinary for being a decent Terminator series game. But looking at this developer’s abysmal track record, Terminator: Resistance is easily the best game they’ve made and it’s a huge improvement over their past. This game could’ve been a Rambo: The Video Game level disaster, but it turned out pretty good.

Runner Up: A Plague Tale: Innocence

Other Awards

Movie of the YearUs.
Runners Up: Shazam, Alita: Battle Angel.

Album of the Year1000 Gecs by 100 Gecs.
Runners Up: Young Enough by Charly Bliss, Fear Innoculum by Tool.

Book of the YearSeven Blades in Black by Sam Sykes.
Runners Up: The Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee (I do not care if it came out in 2016, I just read it this year), One Word Kill by Mark Lawrence.

Control

Control had some work to do right out of the gate. Quantum Break wasn’t exactly an unqualified success and Remedy’s relationship with Microsoft seemed to disintegrate from it. Now back out on their own and paired with 505 Games, Control is a bit of a return to form for Remedy. Smaller in scope than Quantum Break, but doing more with less.

Control is a third person shooter with mind powers. You play as Jesse Haden, a woman who walked into the Federal Bureau of Control, and assumed leadership by bonding with the weapon of the former director. If that sounds weird, we haven’t even scratched the surface. The FBC is charged with protecting the nation from supernatural threats, and it’s been invaded by a threat called The Hiss.

Control is a pitch-perfect blend of creepypasta, Lost, and The X-Files. There’s lot of talk in memos and audio logs about containment and neutralization of Altered Items and Objects of Power. Jesse can bind with some of these OOPs to get new powers, starting with the ability to throw stuff with her mind. Littered all over this game are collectibles describing the supernatural effects of these items and how the FBC are working to contain them. There’s also a series of videos that look like someone took the Dharma Initiative videos from Lost and made their own. These all star the same guy who played Alan Wake. Speaking of Alan Wake, there’s also a series of videos starring the guy who voiced Max Payne. This whole game is stuffed with creepy fiction and Remedy all-stars and I loved it.

The gameplay is also well suited to the atmosphere. This is no cover shooter. Jesse has the archetypal shooter weapons: pistol, shotgun, sniper, etc. Augmenting these are the mind powers, with the first and most useful being Launch, which throws stuff. Essentially every piece of set decoration can be picked up and tossed at the enemy. It does a healthy amount of damage right out of the gate and it’s extremely satisfying. More abilities trickle out later, but Launch is a mainstay through out of the game. Both weapon ammo and mind powers are on a delayed recharge, so combat is usually a matter of emptying one of those meters, and then emptying the other while the first recharges. Enemies also explode with health pickups when they die, so it makes no sense to sit in one place and shoot things in the distance. Eventually you need to get up close to heal. There’s a good variety of enemies, so the mix of weapons and mind powers have plenty of uses and combat essentially never gets boring.

There are two things that take away from Control, and that’s the environments and difficulty spikes. The whole game takes place in the same extradimensional building (think House of Leaves or the Tardis from Doctor Who), and eventually I noticed that it’s an awful lot of poured concrete. It’s good looking and well designed but there’s just so much grey I can look at. Jesse is also fairly fragile, and I found numerous points in the game where difficulty spiked really hard, to the point that I sometimes just walked away from a mission and did something else, or quit out of the game entirely from frustration. There’s a brutal section near the end of the game that took me at least a dozen attempts to get past, and required that I play the game differently from how I spent the rest of the game playing it. It wasn’t fun. Even now, there are a couple side missions I may not finish because I’m past the ending and they’re annoyingly difficult.

Despite these fairly minor quibbles, I absolutely loved Control. It’s creepy, it plays well, and it looks great. Control is an excellent storytelling game.

Reference: Remedy Entertainment. Control (505 Games, 2019)

Source: Purchased from Epic Game Store