Developer Remedy/ Publisher 505 Games
To Control or not to Control, that is the question. It is also a gameplay choice marred in Remedy‘s 4 year development cycle and a change in publisher culture. The result is a surrender to a host of problems from a decades worth of industry game development. Loosely keeping a television aesthetic like its better predecessors; the ambitious Quantum Break and now classic Alan Wake complete with opening credits and an abundance of side plots, Control is a proof of concept at a $90 (Canadian, tax included) price point. It’s disappointing to say the least.
There isn’t a lack of game at least. The world is a bigger than Quantum and Wake and that development strain is shown in both the trimmed down narrative and at the Quality Assurance level. The game slows down much beyond the industry standard 30 fps so much as shown by Digital Foundry, it is no question that this is the worst running game I have ever played. The game froze and the console reset during its climactic cut scene, and when I last played it after completing the main narrative, even with fewer enemies crashed and ran out of video memory (a first for me). Remedy would’ve done better to pull from Arkham Asylum’s playbook and mine the empty space for atmosphere, instead it goes all-in on shaky particle effects in dull corridors. When the player character Jesse Fayden aims to levitate an object with her newly found telekinesis the game opts to pick out a slab of concrete. Lack of aim on part of the developer and publisher is not cause for applause on vaulting ambition, as many critics have put it. Rather condemnation for causing player consternation. The world ends with you and greater concern should have gone into shaping the player experience rather than trying to do something new half-baked or undercooked.
Remedy’s most ambitious concept is the ability to offer the player a true three-dimensional playing field. Introducing a greater technical challenge; fall damage and manual health pickups makes an unwelcome 90’s-era comeback. These are bad design decisions, and there are many more bad ones throughout Control most pointedly the difficulty spike at the halfway point causing me to quit for nearly a week and convincing many others players permanently. Not since God of War III have I encountered a game so woefully unbalanced but at least that game offered a change in difficulty setting and a definitive ending. The fruits of player labour (I did not unlock a third gun until after completing the game; there are five total) go unrewarded with an abrupt ending that links itself to future promised downloadable content that ties itself existing-ly into a successful project from the games developer. No other game has ever more successfully defined itself on the worst ideas of games both old and new. That’s at least control over something. If you ask me Remedy is trying to… compensate for something.
*Game completed on Xbox One. 44/46 achievements earned including completion of all side quests and the main campaign.