One of the biggest games we got to go hands-on with at E3 2019 was Remedy’s newest action-adventure, Control. For those unfamiliar, Remedy is normally known for their partnership with Microsoft, with releases like Alan Wake and Quantum Break exclusively on Xbox platforms. Thankfully, Control is multiplatform, allowing for a wider audience to take part in the experience.
During the demo, I got to play through the third mission, which did hinder my session since I didn’t have as much context as I would have if I started from the beginning. We were told this level is the point in which Control starts to open up more, so it was seemingly a good place to start, in terms of all-out action.
Right off the bat, it was clear that some final touches needed to be added, as many of the facial animations felt unfinished and stiff. Although, seeing as how there is still time left for development, Remedy can’t be faulted too much in this regard. Along with that, though, the interactions between characters also appeared like they needed more polish since the dialogue came across as robotic and unnatural.
But what Control lacks in authenticity of character interactions, it makes up for in gameplay. Running around and engaging in combat against enemies was immensely satisfying and surprisingly challenging. I didn’t expect to get my butt kicked as much as I did, which forced me to thoroughly learn the ins-and-outs of the combat.
E3 2019 Control Preview – Combat Steals the Show
One thing that kept me on my toes is the way health regeneration works. You have to actually eliminate enemies to earn more health, so it’s not advisable to simply run past. And they hit hard, too. You’ll have to pick your shots carefully and prioritize enemies that are closer to you in order to keep your health up.
With the combat, there were a couple of different weapon options, which adds some variety and area for experimentation. One weapon was more accurate but dealt less damage, and the other was the opposite, allowing for a higher damage output. And interestingly, there is no ammo mechanic, as your weapons refill automatically. But with that, you have to strategize and hide when you need to refill. On top of that, both weapons seemed to share the same refillable bar, so having to prioritize which weapons to use will likely come into play in a great way.
Since this is only the third mission and the enemies were quite challenging, it really makes you think about some of the later missions with tougher foes.
This mission required the completion of a few tasks, all of which felt very “video game-y.” Go through the corridors, defeat all the enemies, solve a few minor puzzles, and interact with an objective to progress. This doesn’t automatically make it bad, but hopefully the rest of the game expands beyond this, because it was frankly, too safe. Although, since it was a demo and Remedy didn’t want to spoil things, I’m hopeful that it will open up and be more memorable.
It also seems like there will be minor metroidvania elements, in which you have to backtrack and unlock new areas. It’s not strictly linear, so this could conceivably help open things up, but the level I played wasn’t exactly fun to explore. Even with an interactive map, trying to figure out where to go wasn’t as intuitive as I would have hoped. It’s not easy to balance “hand-holding” with total trust in the player, but from what was played, Control didn’t strike that balance as well as I wanted.
It’s unclear how the rest of the game will play out or how the levels will be designed, but if Control wants to succeed, it needs to be more friendly with its design.
E3 2019 Control Remedy Preview – Beautifully Flawed
In terms of aesthetics, Control is absolutely stunning, with impressive-looking character models and lighting. This is why it’s ripe for a photo mode that might be added post-launch. It’s a shame that the facial animations, lip syncing, and dialogue didn’t match, but with a few months to go, it’s possible that this could be a fantastic game.
It will also be interesting to see how the narrative will play out. From what I played, there wasn’t much in the way of story, since it was a short out-of-context snippet, but Remedy is always known for their interesting narratives. The protagonist, Jesse Faden works at a government agency and is tasked with studying supernatural occurrences. She, herself, has supernatural abilities, allowing for an interesting balance of gunplay and telekinetic powers, which was absolutely the highlight of the experience.
Control has the potential to be an absolutely incredible adventure, but it could go either way. If the vocal performances and unnatural animations plague the entire game, that could definitely ruin things. In addition, the level design might hurt Control, as well, but since I only got a short snippet, Remedy deserves the benefit of the doubt.
If you’re excited for Remedy’s latest adventure, you won’t have to wait long: Control will release on PS4 and elsewhere on August 27, 2019.