Sunday 22 September 2019

Control – a delightfully strange and surreal romp

Control (Playstation 4/Xbox One): 9/10

The general trend of gaming seems to be becoming more and more about elevating our interactive experiences as close to reality as possible, which makes Remedy's latest offering - Control - a hell of a lot more appealing, due to its staunch refusal to be anything less than delightfully strange and surreal in generous helpings.

Control's first act moves swiftly but never feels jarring or jerky, like some games crafted with a less deft hand than Remedy's excellent design team. You are cast as Jesse Faden, who must infiltrate the headquarter's of The Bureau of Control. Quickly rising from the janitor's assistant to the head of the entire Bureau, Jesse begins to piece together the events of her past, as well as honing her latent and often deadly telekinetic powers.

If that sounds wacky and a little tough to follow, well, that's because it is. Remedy's deliberate obfuscation of the story is supported by an immaculately acted cast of characters, coming together to form the video game version of the best page-turner you've never read.

Where the story strikes a moon landing, the action and actual gameplay hit intergalactic heights. Your mind abilities combined with the surprisingly very (very) destructible environments and set pieces make for some of the most intensely satisfying combat from a game released in the past decade.

The satisfying and inarticulable oomph of both your weapon and the telekinetic blasts is somewhere approaching sheer addiction. At will, Jesse can hurl objects at enemies or just simply rip up the floor to use it both offensively and as rudimentary cover. Of course, with the addition of talent trees, your talents can be honed and improved, providing further options for havoc and devastation. Similarly, your handgun or "Service Weapon" can be modded to the point where calling it a mere "handgun" is a tad laughable.

Graphically, Control is just on another level of gorgeous. The artistic direction takes center stage, but it is extremely well supported by the beautiful lighting and graphical fidelity. The constant flux of the beureau's rooms and layout is a very impressive sight to behold - the Oldest House, as its known, shifts around like giant modular blocks, rearranging the huge interior and constantly imparting an element of spontaneity to a game that would be dangerously close to boring without it.

Control is an undeniable masterpiece and a beautifully strange romp through the more daring side of video games.

New Ross Standard