Control is a third-person shooter game with puzzle and platforming elements. It is a joy to control and the visuals are absolutely beautiful. However, what continues to captivate me is the game’s lore which seems inspired by stuff like Warehouse 13, SCP, Lost, Twin Peaks, Annihilation, and House of Leaves. It has that great level of weirdness that does not attempt to explain itself too hard.

In the game, you play as Jesse Faden. Jesse and her brother Dylan were involved in a supernatural event that threatened her hometown. A shadowy organization swooped in to clean things up and took Dylan with them. Jesse has floated through life since then, trying to investigate where her brother went and who took him. She tracks it down to The Federal Bureau of Control (FBC), a government entity. She arrives at their headquarters to get answers but finds the place being invaded by resonance-based creatures known as The Hiss who take over human bodies. She also finds herself replacing the deceased Director of the Bureau. She must now lead the few survivors in an effort to drive out The Hiss and save her brother from them.

Here are a few parts of the game that kind of illustrate its strangeness and how its mechanics work.

The Oldest House – A Brutalist skyscraper in New York City, the inside is shaped nothing like the outside. It is the home of the Federal Bureau of Control and is constantly shifting to accommodate the needs of its denizens or just if it feels like it. It must be stabilized through the use of rituals in order to keep things inside safe. It may be an updated form of Yggdrasil, the tree that is the gateway to other worlds.

Altered Items/Objects of Power – Altered Items are mostly what the name implies. They are physical items that have been touched by paranatural energies and given strange and dangerous properties. These objects seem to have “minds of their own” even though they are not sentient and must be tracked down and contained before they cause chaos, injury, or death. Objects of Power are Altered Items that have been touched by the Astral Plane and become conduits of power. Humans who are capable of it can tap into the object’s power to harness supernatural abilities. Examples in the game are a floppy disk that grants telekinesis, an x-ray box that allows you to take control of weakened enemies, a merry-go-round horse that grants the ability to teleport short distances, and a television set that allows one to levitate.

The Service Weapon – a specialized firearm that is linked to whoever is The Director. It has the ability to change its configuration to provide options in firing types. Those types are a machine gun, shotgun, sticky grenade launcher, sniper rifle, or missile launcher. The weapon is an object of power that is believed to change shape to suit the collective consciousness of society. That means that it may not have always been a gun and could have previously been mythical weapons like Mjolnir or Excalibur. Obtaining this weapon near the beginning of the game automatically proves that Jesse is worthy of being The Director.

The Hotline (to The Board) – This Object of Power takes the form of an old red rotary phone with no dial. Touching it allows The Director to have a direct line to The Board. The Board are beings that exist in the Astral Plane that do not seem to have physical bodies. They speak as one and may have a sort of group mind which results in an odd way of speaking. The Board helps govern the Federal Bureau of Control through undefined metaphysics through Objects of Power. The Hotline also allows The Director to communicate with other entities including dead people. This allows Jesse to communicate with the previous Director, Trench.

The Oceanview Motel – Probably the second trippiest mechanic in the game. This is ostensibly how people travel quickly around The Oldest House. When somebody pulls a drawstring three times, they are transported from wherever they were to the Oceanview Motel, a small Motel somewhere else entirely. By solving a puzzle dictated by the seeming sentient motel, you are granted passage to where you need to go. I still don’t completely understand it.

The Ashtray Maze – An object of power constantly creates an ever-shifting maze around it. The only way through is to use a special song to make it through. Just watch the above video.

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