Remedy Entertainment is the studio best known for the gaming properties Max Payne, the psychological horror Alan Wake, and the live action/gaming experiment Quantum Break. Last year the studio signed a publishing deal with 505 Games to produce their next property. At E3 we got a behind closed doors look at Control.
Control is a third-person supernatural action shooter. You’ll play as Jesse Faden, the newly appointed director of the fictional organization, Federal Bureau of Control. Think of the bureau as a hybrid of X-Files and the B.P.R.D. Jesse has become director of this organization after an attack by an otherworldly group known as HISS killed Trench, the previous one. Being director, Jesse is given a particular gun that only the director of the bureau can use, the Service Weapon. It’s a handgun looking weapon that morphs into whatever her will can bend it to be. Along with her own lawgiver, Jesse now has supernatural powers that allow her to float in the air and levitate objects at will. She’ll need all this as players explore the sieged headquarters of Control, a building the developers named “The Oldest House.”
Contol‘s mood is what happens if Twin Peaks and Die Hard took place in the same universe. In the demo we were shown, Jesse is trapped in the building and tasked to find a man named Rooney. Jesse finds herself searching the office building full of flickering fluorescent lights, randomly floating bodies and an audio design that trumps some of the best horror movies ever made.
This setting is something non-linear and new for Remedy, the whole game takes place in The Oldest House which the studio called a world inside of a building. After Jesse encounters a projection from the former director and shoots down agents possessed by Hiss, she performs a cleansing ritual and the room transforms into a new location she’s given access to. It only gets weirder from here.
As in one point, Jesse performed another ritual and was transported to a motel corridor. She notices a black pyramid on a door to her right. She picks up a key from the reception desk. She returns to the door with the black pyramid, chanting the ritual words as she enters. She pulls on a cord in front of a painting and finds herself inside the freakin painting.
Remedy is one of the best game studios that blend action and story, Control is no exception. Jesse’s shape shifting gun allows players to keep up with the pace of combat. While some things are still being finalized, Remedy designed the weapon to be fluid in combat meaning you won’t have to open three menus to change from its standard grip form to something like the shotgun power form called shatter. Jesse’s powers also play a role as she can telekinetically pull up bunches of granite to shield her from small arms fire or pick up objects such as filing cabinets and desks to launch at enemies. Pulling these elements together in a firefight creates a sort of artistic beauty that compliments the game’s tone seamlessly.
Control will be just as much about story as it will be about the fun of combat. Narrative lead, Anna Megill elaborated a bit on how the character Jesse Faden came about. Remedy’s key writer Sam Lake first came up with the idea of The Oldest House lore then came up with Jesse Faden to be its missing puzzle piece. When players learn more about the trauma that brings Jesse back to the bureau we’ll see her pieces come together to create one of the studio’s most intriguing characters. In the course of the game, Jesse shows these nuance touches that convey compelling characteristics. She’s new to these powers and it shows in moments like her floating to a ledge, her flight is unbalanced and even a bit wobbly at times. This is a character players will have a chance to watch come into her own.
Even though the game takes place inside of one building, it’s also Remedy’s first non-linear open world game. According to Megill, “we’re going to let players experience this interesting story in a new way, and set their own pace instead of just putting them on a linear cinematic path.”
About halfway through the demo, Jesse continues down a corridor, and a recording explaining Objects of Power and Altered World Events plays. She stops at a chamber where a man is sitting observing a red refrigerator and begging for help because he’s been doing it for days without anyone to relive him but if he takes his attention away from it the object will change and likely kill him. This is actually a side mission in the game Jesse can do but for the sake of time, we skipped it. Missions like these will help fill in bits and pieces of the agency’s history as well.
I’ve talked in the past about the importance of comics and games knowing who they’re meant for in order to get the word out directly to those audiences. Control is shaping up to be something that like its primary weapon can change its message to appeal to those who love weird and memorable stories like all the Twin Peaks or show off its edge of your seat action to those who love things like Die Hard and Showdown in Little Tokyo.
Control is slated to release on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC sometime in 2019.