Control is the latest game from the mind of Sam Lake(Alan Wake, Quantum Break). In his previous titles, he’s dealt with the concept of other realms and distortion of reality in a grounded storyline. But, this one is determined to maintain a “strangeness barrier” that makes you work for the plot. And we’re all the better for it.
Players are in control of Jesse Faden, director of a bureau that battles supernatural enemies, including the villainous, ominous entity: “The Hiss”. This nebulous force has invaded the Bureau’s headquarters, “The Oldest House” and Jesse descends into the many layers of madness to take it down.
From the intro of walking into Bureau Headquarters and seeing bodies float like balloons across the ceiling, Control is absolutely stunning. The game uses a look of minimalism combined with what could be considered “noir-deco” with smooth, perfect textures and haunting, sterile environments. And these environments can change within an instant WITHOUT LOADING, as the floor and walls around you morph into an entirely new area at the pull of a drawstring or snap of a finger(i.e.: Think Inception)
The opposing characters placed in the demo held the same haunting nature as their environment. From transforming co-workers that are possessed by The Hiss to goblin/sprite-like enemies who are completely silent until they choose to attack by flying through walls or hurling the environment at you.
And in these combat scenarios, it truly shines better than any Sam Lake game before it. While the time-distortion abilities created a lot of fun opportunities to try new things in combat for Quantum Break, it genuinely feels fluid and moves with Control. With the ability to use debris as a shield, throw objects at your enemies, levitate and even have a transforming gun(from pistol to shotgun), it leaves a bevy of combos you can use against enemies. Seeing Jesse move is a truly intense display. And the action is only amplified by the deteriorating and changing environment with the action.
While many will say Sam Lake games traditionally are something you should “wait-and-see” how it turns out before passing judgement, I can honestly say that this is my favorite presentation at E3 2018.