Control review: The office from hell
(PS4/XO/PC) **** Age: 18+
Finnish studio Remedy doesn't lack for ambition. Its last title, 2016's Quantum Break, welded a feature-length sci-fi movie starring Aidan Gillen to a time-bending shooter.
Control wants to be the game David Lynch has never made, bringing to life a Twin Peaks-esque mystery cross-pollinated with the DNA of The X-Files. Ostensibly a woman's hunt for her missing brother, Control cranks the weirdness u[ to 11 when Jesse Faden follows the trail to New York's Federal Bureau of Control, which investigates paranormal events.
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But the FBC's shapeshifting building holds many secrets, not least why it's overrun by an entity known as The Hiss that's possessed most of the staff. Jesse's handed a gun, naturally, but far more interesting are telekinetic powers with which she can hurl everything from photocopiers to floor tiles at enemies.
In action, Control is a thing of beauty, the brutalist architecture of the offices an unexpected setting for the firefights as the furniture becomes your weapons. In between, a Lynchian sense of surrealism pervades the exchanges with survivors, expeditions to alternate dimensions and Jesse's own psychological demons.
Underneath all of this, however, Control remains fairly conventional, the gameplay leaning on familiar motifs: Metroidvania-style exploration, copious documents to read and simple fetch quests. The meandering narrative doesn't quite command your attention either.
Yet Control's moody, dark world exerts a magnetic pull, an office from hell to which you can't help but turn up for work.
(Switch/PS4/PC) ** Age: 15+
Oninaki's musings on death and reincarnation don't make for a cheery experience. But this initially promising game's troubles run deeper than its morbid theme of a warrior assisting the dead with unresolved issues so they may pass into the next life. Your opening task is to help a ghost boy make his parents feel better about his loss. Solution? Kill them. Um, right.
Most of your "work" involves hammering one attack button to slay demons in this world and the supernatural realm. A battle system involving helper spirits of differing abilities fails to alleviate the slog, which is enlivened only by some challenging boss fights.
Factor in some limp storytelling and Oninaki feels a step backward for the studio that brought us other fine Japanese RPGs such as I Am Setsuna and Lost Sphear.