SECURE THE MACABRE

The writers for Game of Thrones rightly got a lot of crap for how they wrote the end of that show. After several seasons of geopolitical fantasy intrigue, making one of their principal characters go nuts and trying to shoe in a metacommentary about how Good™ stories are felt kind of… stupid.

That doesn’t mean that metacommentaries about stories in general are stupid. Control is almost entirely focused on stories. The Bureau of Control finds especially powerful stories and tries to understand and contain them. Throughout the game, you find evidence of these attempts and their aftermath. There’s an entire section of the Bureau dedicated to holding some of the items from these stories safely.

As a story about stories, Control works especially well, to the extent that I excused a lot of the more tropey aspects of the game and its dialogue. For once, the strange rooms and endless hallways you usually find in games like this can be explained! It makes sense for everyone you meet to be extra exposition-heavy — you’re literally the brand-new Director of the Bureau and you don’t know anything. Things that wouldn’t work in a comparable game, like all the lore coming to you in the form of documents, multimedia and visions from the “Hotline,” work well here, because the setting facilitates it.

While Remedy certainly got all of its narrative plates spinning successfully, on the technical side things are a bit unstable. To put it lightly, there are major performance issues on console. The game’s frame rate will suddenly drop in the middle of fighting a boss, and in my playthrough it would drop every time I loaded into a level. Remedy says they’re working on a long-term fix, and the game is still plenty enjoyable despite that, but it’s a definitely noticeable problem, and I hope their fix works.

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