This year Remedy smashed it out of the park with its latest supernatural action-adventure.
Since the early 2000s, Remedy Entertainment has enchanted us with its outlandish, narrative-driven third-person experiences, starting with the phenomenal Max Payne and following up with Alan Wake and Quantum Break. This year, however, the developer severed its exclusive connection with the Xbox brand and released Control on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
The game followed Jesse Faden, who, since an incident in her hometown of Ordinary, has been living alongside a paranormal, interdimensional entity referred to as Polaris. This entity, shortly before the start of the game, leads Jesse to a seemingly normal federal office building in Manhattan, New York, which, upon entering, turns out to be anything but normal. Jesse's reason for being there is the apparent presence of her brother Dylan, and we're given the simple objective of finding him and getting him to safety, and so we proceeded under the assumption that he has been taken by the Federal Bureau of Control for some reason.
When inside, Jesse finds the bodies of the bureau's employees levitating in the air, seemingly corrupted by a paranormal force of some kind, creating a thick and tense atmosphere. Things get chaotic, however, when some of the corrupted staff rejoin reality, attacking Jesse as she moves within range, prompting some tense gun battles. The force, having corrupted the people within the walls of this so-called Oldest House, doesn't want to give up its secrets and fights to keep it that way, however, as we proceeded through the building, the mystery started to melt away and the bigger picture started to appear.
With a living gun in hand, we pushed through this enthralling adventure, meeting those remaining staff at the facility and trying to wrestle back some semblance of control over the environment. The narrative we followed through this living building was exceptionally well-written and so were the secrets that were spread out around the place, especially for those with knowledge of the studio's previous games. This, along with some phenomenal acting, sound design, visuals and a thick atmosphere, made Control rise high on our list of games for the year.
In particular, the audio-visual side of things is absolutely exquisite. The bold visuals and brutalist architecture of The Oldest House makes for a memorable game world, and the whole thing is filled with lovely little touches that fans will no doubt appreciate. As Jesse jumps between this world and another, this bold design comes into its own, creating a visual experience that stayed with us long after the controller was put down. We also loved the music in the game, with Petri Alanko's stunning soundtrack impressing alongside a standout track by Poets of the Fall.
Not only is the game phenomenal but it's also set for two expansions in the coming year, one of which will seemingly tie the game to Remedy Entertainment's 2010 horror adventure, Alan Wake. Alan Wake, which was referenced quite a bit in Control, has been teased since the release of Alan Wake's American Nightmare, where an original song by Poets of the Fall stated that what happened in that game would "happen again in a town called Ordinary" (when played in reverse). As those who have experienced Control know by now (and as we mentioned earlier), Ordinary is the hometown of the Faden siblings and the location of the catalyst event where Jesse was contacted by the entity that followed her through the entirety of Control. Knowing this, we're incredibly excited to learn more about the cross-game correlations to come, and you should be as well.