The Finnish developer behind Max Payne, the Twin Peaks-esque horror story Alan Wake, and the time-bending Xbox One adventure Quantum Break is back with a new third-person Twilight Zone-inspired action adventure - only this time more people get to experience the top of the line storytelling Remedy Entertainment is known for. You see, the studio's upcoming game Control is releasing for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One - Remedy Entertainment is making Microsoft-exclusive games no more.
Like their previous titles, after they left Max Payne in a rainy New York City, Control is a third-person, gunplay-heavy action-adventure set in an alternate, dark universe. This time around, however, it's more of a Twilight Zone-influenced episode than ever before. During the E3 demo session where we got to watch Remedy play the game, the action was based around the halfway point of the game's campaign. Protagonist Jesse Faden, director of the Federal Bureau of Control, is tasked with finding the facility's head of security and presumably get him out of the bureau and to safety.
The player is quickly introduced to the enemies of Control as Jesse walks by some bodies floating in the air, with one of them suddenly feeling the pull of gravity and hitting the floor in front of her with a heavy thump. The employee then proceeds to attack Jesse and she is forced to take him down with her - drum roll please - supernatural powers and equally supernatural handgun. We're told Jesse's service weapon is one that only bureau employees can wield and that Jesse can alter it for different combat encounters. We got to see two different modes used in the demo session, one regular handgun mode and one mode firing a round resembling a multi-target shotgun blast.
As for her powers, Jesse kindly showed us a glimpse of her internal arsenal when she forced debris up into the air and into the enemies coming her way, stunning them for a short moment and giving her time to aim at those infested heads of theirs. It's also clear, however, that you can straight-up kill them with the force blast alone. She also wields a force shield and has the ability to masterfully evade incoming attacks. The reason for the recently eliminated employees' aggressiveness, we're told, is the Hiss, a vicious entity taking over unsuspecting humans (at least inside the bureau), turning them into lifeless and, when triggered from their state of levitation, crazed husks attacking the player for reasons yet unknown.
After eliminating threats in the guise of former colleagues, Jesse performs a cleansing ritual and the bureau, which up until this point has been fairly normal-looking, transforms with blocks of mass moving and walls disintegrating. We're told about the nature of the area and it turns out that the Federal Bureau of Control has its employees working in more than one dimension and Jesse is located in one called "The Oldest House", an ever-changing and somewhat controllable alternate dimension.
After cleansing the hiss from the area Jesse can access the area's security checkpoint which shows Control's take on Remedy's live-action segments, which this time is a projection sequence you can observe in-game. A man known as Trench delivers a short monologue and Jesse moves on through the checkpoint, teleporting her to a different place (don't worry, she seems just as confused as us mere mortals - The Oldest House seems like a confusing place of employment). The player is then introduced to a new supernatural ability as Jesse levitates over a massive gap to get to her destination.
After some walking the campaign takes the player on an elevator ride where he or she gets introduced to a new type of enemy which seems to have taken their levitating states to another level, flying around in the air like flailing, terrifying puppets. "I bet those flailing guys will attack poor Jesse," you might be thinking, and you would be correct - but first, let's talk side missions.
After exiting the elevator Jesse walks up to a glass chamber that looks like a prison or holding cell of sorts, with a man staring at a refrigerator inside. The man tells Jesse he's been staring at the fridge for hours as he was told to and asks her if she's there for a shift change. When Jesse tells him "no" the man starts to panic, begs her to let him out and explains that he simply can't look away since it would have consequences (so it was, indeed, an experiment - typical). Remedy told us that this was one of the campaign's side missions that the player can take on if he or she chooses to. To save time and to save us journalists from side mission spoilers, the player ditched the poor guy, leaving him to his fate.
After the morally corrupt side mission ditch, Jesse is interrupted by one of the aforementioned levitating enemies coming through one of the walls - surprise combat encounter! They seemed to be regular enemies from this point forward, so tough luck, Jesse. In Remedy fashion, the campaign then takes the player to a room that contains a TV screen of seeming importance. Jesse being her supernatural self can't even watch TV like a normal person it seems, because when she gets close it triggers a change of scenery, collapsing walls, floors and ceilings, forcing her to use her levitate ability to stay above the sinking ground. Far off in the distance the head of security, Rooney, can be seen, clearly corrupted by the Hiss. After a short boss fight (boss battles confirmed) Jesse decides she'll try catching another TV show but fails to do so once again, and the room switches from conventional four-walled box to non-existent space with Jesse floating in a never-ending whiteness with a massive upside-down pyramid in the middle. She levitates over to the pyramid, turning the scenery into the games logo and... scene.
Remedy Entertainment has always been a narratively-driven studio with a love for the impossible, and this feels like a very fitting game for the developer. With interesting gunplay, equally interesting storytelling, a seemingly great protagonist and a fantastic setting, Control looks like a game to check out when it hits store shelves next year.