✔️An incredible follow-up to Control’s initial campaign with a feature length expansion. ✔️A creative tie-in to an alternate universe. ✔️Alan Freaking Wake.
❌Some minor bugs, nothing a patch can’t fix.
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I never thought I would return to Remedy’s world after The Foundation DLC. Control had initially launched off the back of a mixed reception from the studio’s first foray into this generation in Quantum Break. The hesitance surrounding a spiritual successor to Alan Wake seemed justified, with fans perplexed at the idea of their favourite horror title being diluted, and percolated. However, it has been delightful to bask in Remedy’s renaissance with Control becoming a groundbreaking achievement for the Finnish Studio. While its initial expansion never made a commercial impact on Control’s foundation, with minor narrative progression and character development, AWE amplifies the title’s entire experience taking it above and beyond expectations with an incredibly captivating tie-in that may hold fans over until its promising follow-up, next generation.
As director of the Federal Bureau of Control, Jesse returns to the Oldest house to explore the Investigations sector. Experiencing weird apparitions, she’s beckoned on request by a grizzled gentlemen that has warned her of a catastrophic attempt to breach the sector after years of its terminus demarcation. The gentlemen in her visions are revealed to be lead protagonist of Remedy’s cult classic and titular character, Alan Wake. After discovering the encroachment of the sector, Jesse discovers the Bright Falls AWE, or commonly known as the Altered World Event – an occurrence that unfolded the truth behind events between September 1 to September 14 that altered reality to match Wake’s fictional scriptures. This supernova was caused by a Threshold placed beneath Cauldron Lake, which had the novelist’s visions materialise.
With Wake’s findings, Control Head Kirklund had been informed of supernatural events taking place in Washington, with the Bureau’s director informing their top Agent, Frank Breaker. Breaker had been in contact with Wake’s own agent Barry Wheeler, who was convinced in contacting the Control Agent by Bright Falls Sheriff, Sarah. Jesse discovers the aim of the the aforementioned breach was to discover the hidden secrets of rewriting reality. Upon noting the breach, it was found that Dr. Emil Hartman, a psychologist with ulterior motives had attempted to take control of Bright Fall’s power. Clients and patients were manipulated into gathering information for the deranged doctor, in an attempt to study the Threshold’s capabilities. After the physicians veiled attempts, Hartman’s offices were raided by the FBC in which agents had ceased all documentation related to the case.
Upon her findings, Jesse discovers Hartman’s attempt by diving into Cauldron Lake as a last ditch effort to study the Threshold. Overcome by The Shadow, or known by Alan Wake fans as the main antagonist the Dark Presence, Hartman had been captured by the devious deity, and encapsulated within its evil grasps. After the FBC was able to contain the Shadow, the creature was kept hidden within the confines of the Oldest House, and it’s secretive sector. This is where the fun begins. After the breach occurs, the Investigative Sector is contaminated by the Hiss, and who other than our crimson conqueror to clear them out? Jesse dives deeper into the Oldest House, discovering new secrets and ultimately an existing world that parallel’s their universe. While fans clamoured that Control was not a direct tie-in to the Alan Wake universe, this debunks that notion while subtlety agreeing. Fantastic writing and creativity on the developer’s part here.
While Control had given players a taste, or tease as to Alan Wake’s existence with some easter eggs hidden in parts of Control’s initial campagn, AWE (or as I like to call it, the Alan Wake Expansion) amalgamates and combines the two respective universes, while not stating that both franchises are directly connected. It keeps them separate, while bringing them together. I can respect this, as Remedy are trying to establish a new series keeping the Alan Wake legacy intact. While I would love to say that the expansion offers an abundance of new features, it demonstrates itself as it was intended to be; an expansion. To be honest, this was fine by me. My satisfaction coming away from its short feature film length campaign made for an enjoyable trip back to its quirky world, introducing some hilarious moments which I found to be quite interesting coming from a title that prided itself on its stoic nature. It was different, and different can be great.
While keeping a theme of opposing parallel’s, the daft yet confined surroundings of the Investigative Sector contrast the bleak yet broad chambers of The Foundation. A less than desolate surrounding, packed with rampaging foes that seek to take down Jesse on her quest to find Hartman and foil his attempt in finding out the true nature of the Threshold, and its potential to destroy all matter. While at its core, AWE maintains many of Control’s founding blueprints and gameplay loop while only placing noticeable additions to Jesse’s repertoire. As many familiar with the Alan Wake franchise know, stay in the light. Wake himself warns Faden in her apparitions of the novelist, to keep herself well lit at all times in hopes of destroying the murky gunk that may envelope the heroine.
The initial title had been praised for its incredibly artistic design and demonstrates an incredible evolution in overall gaming development. AWE impressively builds upon this notion, with improved textures that look incredibly lifelike over the original campaign’s clay model NPC interactions. There is a certain amount of depth that has been established in this short piece of content that would only hope in extending Control’s incredible presence within the gaming space. I walked away astonished, and completely overwhelmed with how dauntingly majestic, and horrifyingly breathtaking its presentation was. I recall having a conversation with my cohorts over the original campaign, and how some of its demonstrations in mechanical design and graphical fidelity had let me down, but AWE washes that away with subtle improvements that make it vastly superior to its primary pillar.
Control AWE is a no-brainer for those who are invested in Control’s franchise. It’s an incredible demonstration of amazing action platforming, with some captivating cinematics, magnificent narrative progression, enamouring environments, and engrossing gameplay. Highly recommended for those looking to jump back into this supernatural epic.
Control: AWE - Remedy Entertainment
Control is an action-adventure video game developed by Remedy Entertainment and published by 505 Games. Control was released on 27 August 2019 for Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.