When Sony and Remedy Entertainment announced the 2019 release of the new action-adventure shooter Control at E3, they promised players an immersive gaming release unlike anything the industry has ever offered. After getting the chance to play it myself, I can now say unequivocally that Control delivers on that promise and more with a revolutionary experience that somehow allows players to make characters walk in any direction they desire and, as far-fetched as it may sound, interact with the virtual world around them.
While the concept might seem like science fiction—and, believe me, even as I type these words, I’m finding it hard to accept—it appears the minds behind Control have accomplished the impossible: Using the magic of technology, they have created a world in which your controller’s inputs are reflected in your character’s movement around the screen, as if these simulated people actually exist in that plane of existence, allowing them to move forward, back, left, right, and in one particularly breathtaking moment, even turn completely around.
It may be hard to fathom, but in the beautifully rendered world of Control, you serve as a kind of “digital director,” telling the protagonist of the game to move in various directions throughout a room simply using your controller. And when you’re tired of that room? Well, with just the touch of a button, your female avatar is able to enter another room. The game’s genius lies in the fact that the camera follows directly behind the character to actually simulate the experience of entering an entirely new space.
What Remedy has developed in this game can only be described as an “electronic landscape.”
The mind boggles when considering the sheer man-hours needed to develop these groundbreaking techniques. For instance, at one point, I moved the character out of the first room and toward a set of stairs, certain that she would fall flat or be stopped by an invisible barrier. But in a moment of immersive bliss, I watched in breathless awe as she took one step up and then another, almost as if I had spoken to her directly and told her to do so.
Of course, innovation this revolutionary can have its drawbacks, and the mechanics of Control are admittedly difficult to grasp at first. I myself sat staring at the screen in dumbfounded confusion as I waited for my motionless avatar to begin moving on its own. Questions flashed in my mind: What was I looked at? Was this some sort of avant-garde artistic statement? Only when my hand accidentally grazed the controller’s thumbstick and saw character’s corresponding movement did I understand the scale of what this title was attempting.
At that point, I gasped aloud.
There’s also the matter of the game’s supposed storyline, which, as far as I can discern, Remedy added hastily to justify the world of Control. For example, your character is named Jesse Faden and the world you are in is named The Oldest House. Believe me, you can ignore all of this. It only serves as a distraction from the game’s central purpose of allowing you to witness the sheer breathless wonder of inputting commands and then seeing them carried out, as if by magic, by the simulated individuals on your television screen.
Ultimately, Control represents nothing less than a landmark in modern gaming. It’s a watershed moment in which video gamers stop experiencing their games by merely watching and begin, if I may coin a term, to understand them as “interactive storytelling.” The only question remaining is where games can go from here. What could possibly be next? Eating in a game? Picking up an object and storing it in a bag? Perhaps even having a character speak to another character? If technology could ever allow such possibilities, the opportunities seem endless.
For this, and for so many other reasons, we are pleased to award Control a 10/10, for being the best of what gaming has to offer.