Revisiting Control in 2021

When I played Control back in 2019, it quickly became one of my favourites of that year. The narrative was so weird and obscure, the combat was so kinetic and really made you feel incredibly powerful. You can read my review for the game here. The first time I played it through, I never got around to experiencing either of the DLC, called The Foundation and AWE.

Despite the controversy surrounding the Ultimate Edition (that owners of the original game, even with all the dlc, wouldn’t get a free, next-gen patch), it ended up being offered as a game with PS+. So I was luckily able to get it for no extra cost in the end. This would be the perfect opportunity to re-experience this really unique game alongside the DLC, but with much better performance on the PS5.

Control

Control tells the story of Jesse Faden, who enters the headquarters of the FBC (Federal Bureau of Control), called The Oldest House. This is a place that investigates and researches paranatural disturbances and entities, such as ‘objects of power’ and ‘altered items.’ Many different altered items and objects of power are kept in The Oldest House as well. Jesse travels to the FBC headquarters in search of answers to the whereabouts of her brother, who was taken by FBC agents when they were kids after an event happened in their home town. Unfortunately The Oldest House has been overrun by terrifying entities known as The Hiss. Jesse quickly becomes the new Director and must stop The Hiss while also finding her brother.

This game can be so creepy, but also incredibly bizarre and mind-bending. Jesse is able to wield a versatile gun that can warp into different forms, such as a shotgun or sniper-type forms. Alongside these, she has access to a variety of special, telekinetic powers. This helps make the gameplay, particularly the combat, so satisfying. The enemies are also pretty aggressive, going against the norm in 3rd-person shooters where staying behind cover was the best option. Here, you need to be aggressive as well since health doesn’t gradually recover, but is dropped from enemies. Control also features one of the greatest gaming moments of the last decade, The Ashtray Maze. There are so much brilliant aspects to this adventure, but the in-game map is certainly not one of them.

The Foundation

The Foundation is the first piece of DLC you’ll likely play and it’s a solid additional adventure, if a bit more of the same. It has you investigating the basement of The Oldest House where the Astral Plane seems to be encroaching, which will be catastrophic not just for the Bureau, but the entire world. New and more aggressive enemy types, alongside new platforming/abilities do provide some fresh gameplay, but it ultimately just feels too similar overall. It was a decent piece of DLC, but nothing particularly memorable, apart from a movie camera, altered item which transports you to a film chase sequence. This was brilliant.

AWE

When it was revealed that an Alan Wake related DLC was coming to Control, it’s safe to say that people were excited. It was such an iconic and well-loved game. AWE did the legacy justice in my opinion, I really enjoyed it. Firstly, it was genuinely so unsettling, where Dr Hartman’s sinister design sent shivers down my spine. The DLC implemented new gameplay features surrounding light and darkness, similar to Alan Wake. You need to use different light sources to fend off Hartman and weave between the light to avoid the draining effect of the darkness. This was great design that helped distinguish the gameplay from the main game. The story was also pretty good and pretty much confirmed that there would be more Alan Wake related content in the future, whether that be through a sequel or other another crossover in the future. Overall this was a great DLC.

Next-Gen Performance

Control had notorious performance issues when it first released, particularly on base hardware. Therefore, it’s great to see such buttery smooth frame rates and crisp visuals on the PS5 version. You have the choice of two modes, performance or graphics. The former targets 60fps at 1440p, where the latter sacrifices performance for improved visual features like ray-tracing, running in 30fps at 1440p. For me, I much preferred playing in the 60fps performance mode, which still allowed me to have crisp visuals. The frame rate was pretty much locked to 60fps, where I didn’t really notice dips if there were any. I’d personally recommend this mode, as it makes the entire experience so much smoother.

Thank you so much for reading and let me know your thoughts in the comments. I had a blast playing through Control for a second time and I’m intrigued to see what Remedy do in the future. Stay safe and stay tuned for more gaming content like this.

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