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Chris Kavan's Video Game Reviews (473)

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Boot Hill Heroes 3.5/5
Control 4/5
Victor Vran 3/5
Katamari Damacy REROLL 4/5
SIMULACRA 3/5
Hitman: Absolution 3.5/5
Alternativa 2.5/5
Stardew Valley 4/5
Undertale 4/5
Cyberpunk 2077 3/5
Fable Anniversary 3/5
Strange Brigade 4/5
Satellite Reign 3/5
Watch Dogs 2 4/5
Divinity: Original Sin 2 4.5/5
Marvel: Ultimate Allian... 3/5
Star Trek: Bridge Crew 3/5
Metro 2033 3.5/5
South Park: The Fractur... 4/5
Sundered 3.5/5
Mass Effect: Andromeda 3.5/5
Life is Strange: Before... 4/5
God of War 4/5
Doom (2016) 3.5/5
Armada 3.5/5

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Control   PC (Steam) 

Use It Before You Lose It    4/5 stars

Remedy Entertainment has dipped their toe into a lot of genres but are known mainly for two major series: Alan Wake and Max Payne. Control is tangentially related to Wake's story (in fact an entire DLC is dedicated to this link) but owes most of its influence from the SCP Foundation - a community wiki that describes various paranormal, supernatural, and other mysterious phenomena that often take the form of both fantastical and mundane objects/creatures and covers several genres but mostly leans towards sci-fi and horror. Control's main group, the FBC (Federal Bureau of Control) is directly inspired by the SCP as well as several of the objects you encounter throughout the game. With a vast amount of information to choose from, Control manages to craft its own world very well, with plenty of articles, videos, internal notes and such fleshing out the world of the FBC.

Looks and Stuff: Control is a finely-crafted game. The faces look human and, although occasionally falling into uncanny valley territory, for the most part is one of the better-looking games I have played. The voice acting is also a high point, with
Courtney Hope providing the voice of main character Jesse Faden. The game also features a mix of actual FMV content (in the form of in-house videos) with people like Matthew Porretta and James McCaffrey providing not just the voice, but actually acting in the videos they appear throughout. It lends an added layer of originality to the whole thing and are incorporated quite well. Most of the game takes place within the confines of the Oldest House - a shifting building that, for all intents and purposes, appears as a typical government building full of harsh architecture and mostly gray hues. Still, the game likes to throw some things at you from an intelligent mold that is spreading throughout to plenty of portals that take you to dimensional pockets, including one that looks like a typical motel and another that is a maze only the chosen can get through. It even includes an interesting mix of music from hard rock to Slavic folk. Perhaps the most disturbing thing you find in the game isn't the enemies that have been turned, but a series of videos dubbed "The Threshold Kids" meant to introduce children to the world of the FBC, but its hand-crafted nature comes off as seriously disturbed and whoever thought of this little extra nugget should seek help immediately.

Story: Jesse Faden has been searching for her brother, Dylan for several years and has finally found herself in the FBC. Thanks to a kindly janitor, she gains access to this secretive building that doesn't show up on any maps - nor seems to be acknowledged by the general public - and enters the office of the director, only to find him dead from a self-inflicted gunshot. After picking up the gun, she is informed she is, in fact, the new director, which is good - because an other-worldly force has invaded and turned many of the people into dangerous husks - some float around muttering a random series of words, others are more dangerous and will attack on sight. After connecting with scientist Emily Pope, she learns the FBC helps contain dangerous items that have often paranormal or supernatural abilities. These Objects of Power include a refrigerator that someone has to watch at all times, a rubber duck that follows people around and a self-replicating clock that has been consigned to its own pocket dimension in order to contain its power. Often these items are found out through AWEs - Altered World Events - that draw the FBC to their location. Certain Objects of Power - such as the gun Jesse picked up - also provide the owner with abilities. The gun can transform into several different weapons from a standard pistol to a shotgun to a grenade launcher. As you go through the game, Jesse gains access to more and more items that provide abilities like levitation and telekinesis. She also learns that Dylan is indeed still alive - but he is directly connected to the rise of what Jesse calls The Hiss, those infected that are spreading throughout the Oldest House. In order to find out the source and contain the Hiss, Jesse is sent to liberate areas of the Oldest House and make contact with some of those in powerful positions, like Dr. Casper Darling, head of research and security chief Simon Arish. Mysterious janitor Ahti also pops up every now and then and seems to have his own special connection to the Oldest House. Jesse harbors her own secret as years before both she and Dylan survived an AWE spawned from a slide projector - which is where Dylan was captured - and now has an entity she dubs Polaris helping her, which she is reluctant to reveal to the FBC. While her main goal is to save Dylan, the more power she takes on as the Director, the more she realizes how she can change the FBC for the better.

There are also two DLCs - The Foundation takes you to the bottom of the Oldest House - the Foundation itself is located on the astral plane and is an entity represented by an inverted, black pyramid that seems to guide the Oldest House as it sees fit, though its true goal remains shrouded. In this DLC The Nail, a main focal point of the Foundation, has been destroyed by Helen Marshall, head of operations, for unknown reasons. As such, the astral plane is leaking into the Oldest House and causing catastrophic damage and Jesse must repair The Nail before things become irreparable.

The second DLC, AWE tie directly into the Alan Wake series. The game refers to the events of Alan Wake that occurred in Bright Falls and where psychologist Emil Hartman was attempting to exploit the power. When the FBC arrived they took all of Hartman's material and research and threw it into Cauldron Lake where a desperate Hartman tried to save - only to be possessed by the Dark Presence. Combined with the Hiss, Hartman is more dangerous than even and the entire sector has been blocked off until Jesse comes around to fix things.

Gameplay: The game is a third-person shooter in which you take and over-the-shoulder view of Jesse throughout the game. Enemies vary from bog-standard dudes with guns to some heavy hitters that can turn invisible, others that can fly and in the DLC, can even teleport and melee you with abandon. The game does a great job of giving you a lot of variety and while I could get frustrated at times, at no point did I feel the game was unfair. The game features plenty of optional boss battles as well, and some of these are truly grueling, but as long as you level up your powers and such, by the end they become much more manageable. As Jesse explores new areas she unlocks what amounts to fast-travel points and the game is just utterly littered with little lore pieces that flesh out the world. Some of the most fun include the Dead Letters - where crazy people describe could-be Objects of Power and are mostly played for laughs while the America Overnight radio program is an attempt by the FBC to create a popular show to sow their own narrative (mostly involving aliens) to misdirect from actual AWE events. The game even throws in a terrorist group dubbed the Blessed Organization that seems to have access to Objects of Power (perhaps even being able to create them) and unleashed them on unassuming individuals before disappearing without a trace. There is a lot of world-building going on in these small touches and it's one of my favorite things about the game. Most of the time, however, you're running around shooting and or throwing things at enemies, uncovering new objects of power and tracking down individuals in power all in an attempt to save your brother. While I admit the combat can get a bit repetitive, overall the game manages to keep you interested and engaged throughout.

Replay value: This is rare game I managed to 100% and it didn't require a second playthrough, so there's plenty of meat on these bones, but won't require a second run.

Final Verdict: Remedy has created an interesting, twisted world that also connects to their OTHER interesting, twisted world of Alan Wake. For those who like lore, it's fun to hunt down the minutia and the third-person combat, while repetitive, still gets the job done with a fun mix of weapons and powers. I, for one, welcome another entry - or we'll see if the new Alan Wake teases more.

Presentation: 4/5
Story: 5/5
Gameplay: 4/5
Replay: 3/5
Overall (not an average): 4/5

 

 


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