Welcome to weird. Control is the latest brainteaser from Remedy Entertainment, makers of Max Payne, Alan Wake, and Quantum Break. Over the years, Remedy has gotten good—really good—at taking TV drama-worthy characters, equipping them with psychokinetic powers, and walking the line between campy and cool world-building. From the hour or so of Control I've played so far, Remedy is doing it again.
I'm playing Jesse Faden. If her inner monologues and what-am-I-even-doing-here demeanor seem counterintuitive to her new role as the Director of the Federal Bureau of Control, then trust me, you're onto something. She's got some kind of voice talking to her. It may or may not be her brother who was taken by the FBC years ago. She's been summoned to the FBC's paranormal headquarters in New York by this voice. And while the world is kind of going about its business outside of FBC HQ, the inside is going through some things. Suffice it to say, the old director just had a gun put to his head—possibly by himself—and the bullet that went through his brain effectively served as his resignation papers.
You walk in and take the gun. This is no ordinary gun. It may be referred to as something as innocuous-sounding as the "Service Weapon," but if internal memos at the FBC are to be believed, this Service Weapon is the equivalent to, like, the sword Excalibur, or other legendary weapons, and you just basically pulled the sword from the stone. After that happened, I noticed my portrait up on the walls, like I've always been an important figure within the FBC. Was my portrait always up? I'm not sure.
There's a janitor. He's the only friendly face I'd run into in the introduction. His portrait is on the wall, too, except it's a portrait with his back turned. That's weird, right? A big ol' portrait of someone's back in janitorial coveralls? When I met him he was helpful enough. I wish I'd had closed captioning turned on right then, however, because I could only understand every third or fourth word he said.
But what really baked my noodle later on (sorry, I rewatched The Matrix recently and The Oracle says that) is that the janitor pointed me in the direction of the elevator. And when I walked back out to where this elevator was supposed to be, it was there, but that entire elevator had replaced the portrait on the wall of the janitor. I thought I was just lost. I walked back and forth a couple times. But it wasn't me. The building had changed.
The Federal Bureau of Control's HQ was built around something known as the "Oldest House." It's a place where a bunch of different interdimensional planes of existence converge. This blocky, brutalist tower, like the island was in LOST, is the "cork" between the normal and the paranormal worlds. Despite the game's title, the FBC has 100-percent lost control of the situation. The cork has come out of the bottle, as it were.
The premise is brilliant and worthy of a Netflix TV series. I'm working on the review as we speak, but I'm really savoring the details and the WTF-ery going on. It starts slowly and pieces itself together like a detective novel. But when things get weird, I just have to remember, it's not me, it's Control.