Watch: Eyes-on with Control, Remedy's surreal new shooter
Max Payne, Alan Wake, and Quantum Break have secured Remedy’s legacy as a cinematic game developer, not afraid to hoist story into the spotlight. Remedy's games are always backed up by unique mechanics that make its games stand out, even if they don’t always top the sales charts. This E3, Remedy debuted Control, a mishmash of supernatural conspiracies and government shadow agencies.
In our eyes-on demo, taking place roughly halfway through the game, we see main character Jess exploring the Federal Bureau of Control's HQ, her place of employ, a sprawling bit of brutalism and wormholes. She’s actually the boss now, taking the title of director after the previous one is murdered by a mystical force we only know as the Hiss. The job has its perks, including a special gun, the Service Weapon: a handgun that’s constantly jittering, seemingly uneasy with reality itself.
The FBC operates out of a Manhattan building called The Oldest House, which is larger in the inside than the outside -- something many a New Yorker would love were true of their own apartments. In the demo, we find Jess stalking the halls of this place, with many of her coworkers floating in mid air, dead or in some sort of stasis. Security guards, human-looking but with an uncanny dead look to them, patrol the halls, ready to take her down. Later, stranger looking enemies glide through the air, cascading through the lit passageways with a trail of chromatic aberration.
Fortunately, Jess has means to defend herself beyond her Service Weapon. Namely, telekinesis. We see Jess hurl office furniture to end a firefight before it begins, and summon debris from an ongoing firefight to create a makeshift shield.
Beyond combat power, Control's E3 demo also showed off Jess's ability to leap and float, with promises of just-out-of-reach spaces branching out to optional areas. The developers were happy to say this game had a Metroidvania influence and was side quests, though little was on display beyond a living coworker sitting in front of a demonic fridge, watching it. It seems the fridge can cause mischief if it’s not always observed, echoing the weeping angels from Dr Who (or some of the more memorable entries from the SCP Foundation). Helping Jess's coworker was optional, and there would be rewards, though for our demo we stuck to the critical story path.
The Oldest House is worth another mention. Jess can interact with her environment by invoking rituals and chanting about an inverted black pyramid, which can change the non-euclidian architecture. A few pulls on a drawstring light causes a flicker and then a passage way open that wasn’t there before, with the sterile office space opens twists and opens to what seems to be a seedy motel lobby. Things are weird, with the demo leaving more questions than answers, like the best mysteries.
Control seems promising, if a familiar template for Remedy's stable. It does not yet have a firm release date, although signs point to it coming out in 2019.
With its past games trying out the transmedia experience with the fever dream FMV sequences in Alan Wake and the full-on television shows in Quantum Break, I had to ask the developer on hand if we'd see something similar for Control. The developer laughed and said there had been some FMV in the demo we had just watched.
I must have blinked while watching the fridge.