Control (video game)

Control is an action-adventure video game developed by Remedy Entertainment and published by 505 Games. Control was released on 27 August 2019 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. It will be released for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. The game revolves around the Federal Bureau of Control, a secret U.S. government agency tasked with containing and studying phenomena that violate the laws of reality. As Jesse Faden, the Bureau's new Director, the player explores the Oldest House – the FBC's paranormal headquarters – and utilize powerful abilities in order to defeat a deadly enemy known as the Hiss, which has invaded and corrupted reality. The player gains abilities by finding Objects of Power, mundane objects like a rotary phone or a floppy disc imbued with energies from another dimension, that have been at the center of major paranormal events and since recovered by the FBC.
Control is inspired by the fictional SCP Foundation, an online project of user-created stories of paranormal objects, and based on the genre of the new weird. The environments of the Oldest House are designed in the brutalist architecture, common for many oppressive governmental buildings and which served as a setting to show off the game's destructive environmental systems. Control was one of the first games released to take advantage of real-time ray tracing built into the hardware of newer video cards. In addition to Hope, further voice work and live-action footage is provided by James McCaffrey, Matthew Porretta, and Martti Suosalo, while the band Poets of the Fall provided additional music.
Upon release, Control was met with positive reviews from critics, with several gaming publications naming it among their top games of 2019. The game was nominated for numerous video game awards, winning several related to the game's art and design. Control was followed by a downloadable expansion, The Foundation, which was released on March 26, 2020. A second expansion, AWE, that will tie Control to Remedy's previous game Alan Wake is scheduled for release in mid-2020.


Control is played from a third-person perspective, and is built using Remedy's proprietary Northlight Engine, which was first used on the company's previous title Quantum Break. As Jesse Faden, players wield the Service Weapon, a supernatural firearm that can be adapted into a variety of different forms with different combat applications. In addition to the Service Weapon, Jesse can acquire a variety of supernatural abilities including telekinesis, levitation, quick dash and the ability to convert enemies into temporary allies. The Service Weapon has limited ammunition which reloads after a certain interval and Jesse's abilities expend Jesse's energy, necessitating a balance in their usage. The Service Weapon can be upgraded throughout the game via a skill tree; in order to gain new powers, players must locate various Objects of Power - ordinary items acted upon by supernatural forces - hidden throughout the Oldest House. Due to the versatility of the game's loadouts, Controls combat system can be customized and balanced to the player's preferences. Health in Control does not recharge automatically, and must be picked up from fallen enemies.
Control is set within the Oldest House, a featureless Brutalist skyscraper in New York City, which is referred to in-game as a "Place of Power". The Oldest House's interior is far larger than its exterior, an enormous, constantly shifting supernatural realm that defies the laws of spacetime. Control is built in the Metroidvania format, with a large world map that can be explored at a nonlinear pace, unlike Remedy's previous titles, which were primarily linear. As the player unlocks abilities and clearance levels, new areas of the Oldest House can be explored, opening various side-quests. Certain areas known as Control Points can be used to fast travel throughout the building after they have been cleared of enemies. An A.I. system known as the Encounter Director controls interactions with enemies based on the player's level and location in the Oldest House. Enemies in Control are predominantly human agents of the FBC possessed by the Hiss, an otherworldly force. They range from standard humans carrying firearms to heavily mutated variations that possess a variety of superpowers. Some of Jesse's abilities allow her to seize control of enemies' minds temporarily, turning them into her allies, and allowing their abilities to be used for the player's benefit.



Control revolves around a clandestine U.S. government agency known as the Federal Bureau of Control, which is responsible for the investigation of "paranatural" phenomena which defy the known laws of reality. These phenomena manifest in the form of Altered World Events, intrusions upon perceived reality shaped by the human collective unconscious. These AWEs affect archetypal objects and give them unique properties; referred to as Altered Items by the Bureau, they are contained within their headquarters at the Oldest House, an enormous Brutalist skyscraper in New York City. AWEs produce Objects of Power, which are unique in that they grant certain individuals paranatural abilities. Objects of Power are connected to the Astral Plane, an alternate dimension housing the Board, a pyramid-shaped entity which ordains the Bureau's leadership through a ritual connected to the Service Weapon, an Object of Power. Whomever the Board chooses to wield the Service Weapon is considered by default to be the Director of the FBC. The Oldest House is referred to as a Place of Power by the FBC; on the interior, it is an infinite, constantly shifting paranatural space connected to various alternate dimensions through rooms known as Thresholds.
The protagonist of Control is Jesse Faden, who arrives at the Oldest House seeking the whereabouts of her younger brother, Dylan. Seventeen years prior to the game's events, Jesse and Dylan were involved in an AWE in their hometown of Ordinary, Wisconsin involving a slide projector Object of Power capable of opening portals to other dimensions. After the Slide Projector's paranatural properties resulted in the disappearance of Ordinary's adult population, the FBC apprehended Dylan and the Slide Projector while Jesse fled, burning all but one of the slides. Jesse arrives at the Oldest House through the guidance of Polaris, a paranatural entity that rescued her and Dylan during the Ordinary AWE.
Jesse encounters various allies in the FBC, including research specialist Emily Pope, security chief Simon Arish, Head of Operations Helen Marshall, and Ahti, a mysterious Finnish janitor. She learns of the FBC's former Director, Zachariah Trench, and finds various informative videos created by Dr. Casper Darling, the Bureau's missing Head of Research.


Jesse Faden arrives at the Oldest House under the telepathic guidance of Polaris, finding the building seemingly devoid of people. She bumps into a Finnish janitor, Ahti, who directs her to an elevator for her "job interview". Through the elevator, Jesse discovers that the Federal Bureau of Control's Director, Zachariah Trench, has seemingly committed suicide with his own sidearm. Picking it up, Jesse learns that it is an Object of Power known as the Service Weapon, and is transported to the Astral Plane, where she completes a ritual and is selected as the new Director by the Board. Jesse emerges from Trench's office and finds that the Oldest House has been invaded by a hostile force she dubs "the Hiss", which has possessed most of the Bureau's agents and corrupted the building's shifting topography. Jesse uses an Object of Power known as the Hotline to listen to the lingering presence of Trench, who relays that his former management team knows the secrets of the Bureau, and Jesse hopes they may be able to tell her the whereabouts of her brother, Dylan, who was kidnapped by the FBC years prior.
Jesse aids Emily Pope and the other remaining agents of the FBC, who have survived by donning Hedron Resonance Amplifiers, devices developed by Casper Darling that protect their wearers from the effects of the Hiss. Pope explains that the Oldest House is on complete lockdown until the Hiss can be eradicated. Seeking to release the lockdown and access other sectors of the building, Jesse enters the Oldest House's Maintenance Sector and is guided by Ahti to repair the building's electricity and plumbing to prevent a major meltdown. Jesse uses a Directorial Override to reopen the other sectors, and enters the Research Sector in search of Helen Marshall, whom she believes knows about Dylan. Jesse aids Marshall in retaking the Research Sector and facilitating production of more HRAs. Marshall reveals that Dylan, known to the Bureau as "Prime Candidate 6", was brought in as a candidate for the role of Director due to his special parautilitarian abilities, but after he proved unstable and killed several Bureau agents, he was detained in the Containment Sector. Jesse rushes to the sector to find Dylan, only to learn that he has appeared in the Executive Sector and surrendered to the FBC agents there. Dylan tells Jesse that he has embraced the Hiss, which he believes will set him free of the Bureau, and that their invasion was made possible by the slide projector Object of Power that the Bureau recovered from Ordinary. Dylan warns his sister not to trust Polaris, but Jesse resolves to find and deactivate the Slide Projector.
Jesse investigates the Prime Candidate program and learns that both she and Dylan were considered for the role of Director, and that the slide projector is contained in the Research Sector. Ahti gives Jesse a cassette player which enables her to navigate an elaborate maze protecting the slide projector's chamber. In the chamber, Jesse finds the slide projector missing. She learns that Darling led several expeditions into the dimension accessed through the only surviving slide the FBC was able to recover, discovering a polyhedron-shaped organism he named Hedron, which is the source of the HRA resonance. Jesse discovers that Hedron is Polaris, who called out to Jesse to save her from the Hiss; however, when Jesse reaches Hedron's containment chamber, the Hiss attacks and seemingly kills it.
Jesse's mind is invaded as the Hedron resonance falters; however, she is able to rediscover Polaris's essence within her and restore control. Jesse learns that Trench fell under the Hiss's influence during one of Darling's expeditions; he stole and concealed a second slide and used it to let the Hiss into the Oldest House to destroy what he perceived to be the threat of Hedron's takeover. Jesse finds the Slide Projector in the Executive Sector and through it enters the Astral Plane to confront Dylan, who is attempting to take over the Board through the Hiss. The Board, fearing they are losing control of the Astral Plane, allocates what power they can to Jesse, amplifying her abilities to stop the Hiss. Jesse, with her newfound power, defeats the defending Hiss and cleanses Dylan, who falls into a coma. Accepting her new role as Director, Jesse resolves to defeat the remaining Hiss in order to restore order to the Bureau.

''The Foundation''

The Foundation takes place in an eponymous location at the bottom of the Oldest House, where Jesse is summoned by the Board to deal with a threat to the Bureau. In the Foundation, Jesse discovers a "Nail" that acts as a conduit between the Oldest House and the Astral Plane. The Nail has been damaged, resulting in the Astral Plane merging into the real world which would be catastrophic if it continued beyond the Oldest House. The Board grants Jesse a new ability and instructs her to find the Nail's four nodes to repair it; in the process, Jesse searches for the whereabouts of Marshall, who entered the Foundation during the initial Hiss invasion seeking to secure it.
While repairing one of the nodes, Jesse suddenly encounters the Former, an extradimensional entity and ex-member of the Board, which grants Jesse an additional ability which the Board had not ordained. The Board is furious, but later calms, and attempts to persuade Jesse not to trust the Former. She then has a conversation with the Former which tells that it was blamed for something that it got exiled by the Board for it and is more willing to help her however it can, though its true motives remain unclear. Jesse repairs the nodes, but tremors occur between the Oldest House and the Astral Plane which threaten to destroy both dimensions. Jesse reaches the base of the Nail, where she finds Marshall possessed by the Hiss, and kills her. With the aid of the Former, Jesse cleanses the Nail.
Marshall's presence reveals through the Hotline that it was she who destroyed the Nail, seeking to prevent the Hiss from taking over the Oldest House through it, and also as a preventative measure against the Board's control. The Board, in response, destroyed Marshall's HRA, allowing her to be possessed by the Hiss. Jesse, with her faith in the Board shattered, resolves to lead the Bureau her own way, but continue letting the Board believe it is in control. As Jesse exits the Foundation, the Former recedes in the distance.


Control was developed by Remedy Entertainment. As their first major release since their initial public offering in 2017 and separation from Microsoft as a publishing partner, Control was developed using more efficient development strategies to keep costs and time low. In contrast to Alan Wake and Quantum Break which took seven and five years to complete respectively, Control was completed within three years with a budget, lower than the typical costs of a triple-A game.
Mikael Kasurinen, who worked on Alan Wake and Quantum Break, was Control director and Sam Lake served as the game's writer and creative director alongside narrative lead Anna Megill. Development of the game began before the release of Quantum Break. As they were finishing Quantum Break and deciding on the next project, Kasurinen recognized that that game rested heavily on full motion video and other cinematic elements, and suggested they look at a more open-world game where the player would drive what they experienced. Instead of focusing on creating a large and complex story, Remedy wanted to put more emphasis on creating a game world and universe that is rich enough for players to craft their own stories. The team still wanted to leave narrative elements for players to discover to help flesh out the world, and added optional documents, audio logs, and live-action video footage that the player could review at their own pace. Another goal for the team was to create a game that has high replayability. They still stated that they wanted to make a strong narrative, one that is "narrowly focused" according to Kasurinen.
The first concept down was creating the fictional FBC, a realistic setting that would serve as a basis for paranormal events and a catalyst for events in the story. This enabled them to consider multiple stories they could tell, not just about the player-character but other individuals in the FBC, but this also created the challenge of how to present the stories of the other characters in the open-world format. The gathered writings of the fictional SCP Foundation website was a major influence on Control. Stories on SCP Foundation's site are based on singular objects with strange paranormal impacts, and as a whole, they are narratively linked by the common format of reports written by the fictional SCP Foundation, which catalogs and studies the objects. Control was built atop this, having the various Objects of Power and Altered Items, along with numerous collectable writings about these objects or other stories in line with SCP. They fixed the story in the genre of the new weird, a modern variant of weird fiction with stories that combine science fiction and fantasy often with a bureaucratic government agency involved in these events. In Control, they reversed the role to make the bureaucracy at the center of the story. Narrative Designer Brooke Maggs stated "there is an invisible, assailing presence of bureaucracy in the corporate office setting that is in itself, unsettling". The mundane features of the Oldest House helped to contrast against the paranormal aspects of the game, thus well-suiting the new weird, according to World Design Director Stuart MacDonald. The design team's goal in using the new weird approach was not to create terrifying moments as one would do in a horror game, but instead create a continuing sense of dread for the player.
A further challenge involved creating an environment that would encourage the player to explore, get lost in it, and learn by observation. Kasurinen felt they did not want to include a traditional heads-up display for the player, with mission markers or other clutter, and instead have the player use mission descriptions in their log and careful observation of the environment to figure out where to go next. This further led to the decision to only tell player critical information via some means, leaving the player to fill in the missing parts with their own observations and imaginations. They also wanted a fluid environment, where nearly any object in it could be used as part of the player-character's telekinetic powers, so that the game world could be both a weapon to be used by the player, or a weapon against the player-character. To achieve this, Remedy replaced the Havok physics in their in-house engine with PhysX, and improved their artificial intelligence to enable enemies to take advantage of these changes.
The everyday objects that would become Objects of Power in the game were selected to be within the concept of the new weird. One such Object of Power is a floppy disk. MacDonald said he was drawn to use a floppy disk in this manner after reading a story about how many of the United States national missile defense sites had only recently transitioned off floppy disks, and prior to that, these disks could be seen as proverbial weapons that were held with high reverence. The copious presence in the Oldest House of 1960s and 1970s technology such as pneumatic tubes, slide projectors and monochrome monitors, and the absence of modern-day technologies such as cell phones, is explained in-game as the result of the tendency of newer technologies to fail or malfunction within the boundaries of the Oldest House.
Long Lines Building served as inspiration for the Oldest House.
The Oldest House setting was based on brutalist architecture, a style utilizing large concrete blocks popularized in the 1950s and used in many government buildings at the time. The game's world design director, Stuart Macdonald, described brutalism as a good science-fiction setting, as it has "this sense of power, weight, strength and stability to it", and when the Oldest House's geometries are affected by the Hiss, "it makes for a really good contrast with the impossible architecture". The relatively flat colors of the background walls made it an ideal canvas to showcase other design and lighting effects in the game, It also served well into the telekinesis powers of the game, as the concrete walls would be used in lieu of a target object when the player throws debris at foes via telekinesis, and the initially pristine spaces end up showing the results of a large, destructive battle. Among real-world influences in the game's architecture is 33 Thomas Street, formerly known as the AT&T Long Lines Building, a windowless building in the center of New York City. Macdonald used this building as a modern example of brutalism, and created the Oldest House as a "bizarre, brutalist monolith" to house the FBC. Other real-world locations used as inspiration included the Boston City Hall, the Andrews Building at the University of Toronto Scarborough, and the Met Breuer.
Other real-world architects inspired the game's structures. Carlo Scarpa's work was used heavily in designing stairways that ascended with other parts of the structure, while Tadao Ando's focus on lighting and spiritual spaces were reflected in other parts of the game. Additionally, the design team turned to film for other inspiration. Films of Stanley Kubrick, particularly A Clockwork Orange, as well as films featuring oppressive government agencies, such as The Shape of Water, served as part of the design basis. Other films, like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, evoke the concept of repetitiveness, process, and ritualism in these agencies, and that was used to define some of the internal artwork and architecture. Art director Janne Pulkkinen stated they also looked at real world churches and other places where ritualism is common, as lighting and design of those spaces are often used to draw attention to specific points of interest.
Certain areas of the game feature full-motion video sequences. Most of these are of Dr. Casper Darling explaining parts of the Oldest House and Objects of Power within it, with Darling played by Matthew Porretta. Another set of videos are short episodes of a fictional show called "The Threshold Kids", a puppet-based show seemingly aimed at children that may reside within the Oldest House. "The Threshold Kids" were written by narrative lead Anna Megill and produced by their senior cinematic designer Mircea Purdea. Poets of the Fall, an alternative rock group that are close friends of Remedy, provided songs for the game, including "Take Control", in-game stated to be by the fictional band "The Old Gods of Asgard", itself an allusion back to Alan Wake. Remedy used this song as part of the game's "Ashtray Maze", a section where Jesse fights through an ever-changing set of room set to the song. Remedy worked with Poets of the Fall so that they could incorporate the song dynamically as the player progressed through sections of this maze
Control represents one of the first major games to be released after the introduction of graphics cards that support real time ray tracing, and considered the first game with a nearly-full implementation of all possible RTX features. The game also supports more standard rendering techniques suitable for less powerful graphical hardware.
The game includes Easter eggs referring to Alan Wake, which shares similar paranormal themes with Control; one such Easter egg discusses the aftermath of Alan Wake as part of the FBC's case files, which considered what happened in Bright Falls, the primary location of Alan Wake, to have been an AWE. A secret area includes a vision of Alan Wake. The past event in the town of Ordinary was alluded to by a backmasking track in the credits sequence of , with an unknown speaker stating "It will happen again, in another town. A town called Ordinary." Kasurinen said that the inclusion of such references helps to establish a type of continuity between its games, elements to be found and shared by its player community, but not meant to necessarily establish a shared universe between the games.


The game's main voice cast was announced at New York Comic Con in 2018, consisting of various actors from Remedy's previous games. Courtney Hope, who played the character Beth Wilder in Quantum Break, stars as Jesse Faden, while James McCaffrey, known for his roles as the title character of Max Payne and Thomas Zane in Alan Wake, plays the role of Zachariah Trench. Matthew Porretta, who portrayed the titular character of Alan Wake, is also featured in both voice roles and live-action videos as the character of Dr. Casper Darling. Finnish actor Martti Suosalo voices the janitor Ahti. Remedy's Sam Lake said that he had been yearning to add his native Finland to one of their games, and Control presented that opportunity to incorporate this. Among one of the these pieces includes a Finnish tango which Lake wrote, Petri Alanko composed, and Suosalo sang.
The game includes a voice cameo by Hideo Kojima and his English translator Aki Saito; in one side mission, a recording by Dr. Yoshimi Tokui, voiced by Kojima, relates a dream-like experience in Japanese, with the English translation given by Saito.

Marketing and release

In May 2017, Remedy announced that they had partnered with 505 Games to publish the game, then codenamed "P7". 505 provided marketing and publishing support and a fund of €7.75 million to assist the game's development, while Remedy retained the intellectual property rights to Control. In the press release, Remedy revealed that the game will have complex gameplay mechanics and that it will be a "longer term experience" than its previous games. P7 was being worked on by Remedy alongside two other projects. The game was officially revealed at Sony Interactive Entertainment's E3 2018 press conference.
In the months leading up to the launch of the game, it was featured in a significant campaign as one of the first games to use Nvidia's ray tracing features from the company's RTX graphics cards. The game was bundled with sales of graphics cards supporting the RTX technology. Nvidia created or hosted nine videos, including an exclusive gameplay trailer, to display the game's ray tracing integration.
The game was released on 27 August 2019 for Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. The Microsoft Windows version was released on the Epic Games Store platform; under the terms of this exclusivity, platform operator Epic Games paid Digital Bros, 505 Games' parent company, . Remedy announced plans to release the game for both PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.


Remedy has affirmed plans for at least two additional content expansions to Control, titled "The Foundation" and "AWE", both narratively set after the main game with Jesse taking on her role as the FBC Director. However, at the time of Controls launch, the specifics of this content had yet to be determined, according to narrative designer Brooke Maggs, as the team's focus was on addressing performance issues for the console version of the games. "The Foundation" released on 26 March 2020 for PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Windows and for Xbox One on 25 June 2020. The second, "AWE", planned for later in 2020, is to involve "the Bureau’s involvement, research, and interest in Alan Wake and the events that took place 10 years ago", according to Lake.
Additional smaller, non-narrative content is also planned. The first, "Expeditions", was released as a free update on 12 December 2019, and presents standalone missions of various difficulty with power-up items for their character.


Control received positive reviews, according to review aggregator Metacritic.
IGN chose Control as their " Game of the Year", along with other awards including "Best Action-Adventure Game", "Best Video Game Art Direction", and "Best Video Game Story". Game Informer, Electronic Gaming Monthly, and GamesRadar+ awarded Control as their "Game of the Year", while Polygon, Easy Allies, USGamer Giant Bomb, Hardcore Gamer, GameRevolution, and GameSpot list Control among their top 10 games of 2019. PC Gamer chose Control as "Best Setting" for their Best Games of 2019. Eurogamer listed Control among its games of the year.
Digital Foundry and Polygon considered Control on PC to potentially be a "killer app" for Nvidia's RTX graphics cards, citing it as helping to enhance the game's visual style.