Posts Tagged ‘Control’

Overlook AWE – A Control/The Shining Story

April 18, 2022

Director Jesse Faden was deep in thought. She had gone through a hell of a lot very recently and she was still adjusting. She had spent a lot of her life from her childhood to adulthood trying to find her brother Dylan and solve the mystery concerning the event that destroyed their hometown. She had drifted from place to place, trying to find the shadowy organization that had come in to clean up the mess but also took Dylan away. It took decades to find them. She had walked into the lobby of The Oldest House, an eldritch building that housed the Federal Bureau of Control. She had arrived in the midst of a chaotic extra-dimensional invasion. She had been tapped by the mysterious Board to be the new Director of the FBC. She had spent most of her life chasing the Bureau, now it was her job to defend it.

The helicopter hit a small air pocket and it jostled Jesse from her thoughts. She blinked and looked over at Emily Pope who was holding her ever-present clipboard. Emily looked up from the clipboard and smiled at her. Jesse found herself automatically smiling back. Emily had been instrumental in Jesse’s adjustment over the past few months. They had met mere minutes after Jesse had become Director and they had hardly been apart since. Jesse felt more confident with Emily close by, giving her practical scientific advice. Besides, Emily was easy to talk to.

“Are you alright, Director Faden?” Emily asked. “Some people get airsick.”

Jesse shook her head. “I’m alright, Emily,” she said. “And I told you to call me Jesse. Besides, if I can travel through the Oceanside Motel and the Ashtray Maze, I think I can handle a helicopter.”

“Tough girl,” Emily said and Jesse fought not to blush. “We should be arriving soon.”

Jesse pulled out the Service Weapon and checked it even though the thing took care of its own repairs and kept itself clean. It was something to do with her hands. She still had quite a bit of anxiety but she was gaining confidence every day.

“Brief me again,” Jesse said. “Please.”

“You got it,” Emily said. “We should be arriving at a massive Altered World Event. This AWE had kind of a slow build-up that claimed the lives of hundreds over centuries. It is centered on the Overlook Hotel, high in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. The most recent recorded Bureau activity was a visit in the 1970s after the hotel exploded and partially burned away. At that point, agents on site determined that the AWE was dormant. Lately, we’ve received readings that this is no longer the case. I’m not sure what to expect. Interviews with survivors Wendy and Danny Torrance were inconclusive even though it was determined that Danny was a possible parautilitarian.”

Jesse nodded. “Dylan said that he felt a lot of menace from the place even from nearly across the country,” she said. “The thing has trapped the memories of people there. Like ghosts.”

“That’s possible,” Emily said. “I mean, in a manner of speaking. I guess it would be kind of like the hotline.”

“Yeah, I guess so,” Jesse said. “I’m not really raring to explore a place like that but if we don’t do this, who will?”

“Somebody inexperienced who will get themselves killed?” Emily asked with a slight smile.

“Cheery thought,” Jesse said. “But probably correct.”

The intercom came to life. “We’re coming up on it now, Director” Ranger Williams said. “On your left.”

Jesse looked out of the porthole on the left and her eyes went wide.

“Emily, the hotel does not look burned down at all,” Jesse said. “It looks almost as good as new.”

“Maybe it put itself back together?” Emily asked. “Altered Items are usually really hard to destroy. The hotel may be no different.”

“I suppose that makes sense,” Jesse said. “It’s very creepy, though.”

“I’m not going to argue with you there,” Emily said.

The helicopter touched down in the driveway and Jesse, Emily, and Williams hopped out of the helicopter. There was something immediately imposing and sinister about the building. The three of them stared at it for a few moments. It was only then that Jesse noticed that there was a car parked nearby.

“Emily, were we expecting company?” Jesse asked.

“No, on your orders we’re the advance scouting party and a cleanup crew is still incoming,” Emily said.

“Then who owns that car?” Jesse asked.

They looked at each other and then all three of them approached the car, weapons drawn. Jesse looked in the car and saw somebody asleep in the back seat under a blanket. She knocked sharply on the window. The man woke up with a start and looked at her with red eyes. When he saw her weapon, he moved slowly and deliberately. He rolled the window down.

“Can I help you?” he asked.

“Federal officer,” Jesse said. “Can I ask you what you’re doing here?”

“You can,” the man said. “I’m just visiting.”

Jesse spotted several gasoline canisters in the vehicle.

“Uh huh,” she said. “Can I ask your name, sir?”

“Again, you can,” he said. “The name’s Daniel Torrance.”

Control

February 14, 2022

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.

The Bureau

January 8, 2022

John remembered the knife plunging into his gut. He remembered staggering through the alley, unable to ask for help loud enough to draw anyone. He remembered falling to his knees and crawling, trying desperately to find anything or anyone who could help him. All in vain. He remembered the warmth leaving his body before everything went black. He remembered all of that which meant that he had reached game over. There should have been no continue, no option to put in more tokens. Yet, here he was sitting at a table in a barren room.

He took a deep breath to prove that he could and then tapped his fingers on the table. Sight, hearing, and touch were all still working. At that moment, he could not smell anything but there did not seem to be anything especially fragrant in the room. He was not about to taste the table, of course. Still, it seemed that he was alive. Why he wasn’t patched up in a hospital bed was not exactly evident. The mystery nagged at him. He should be dead or at least severely injured.

He reached down to his side and felt no wound. There was not even any tenderness at the site of impact. Still, touching it was making him remember the attack more vividly which made his anxiety levels rise. He jerked his hand away. He spent time doing the customary checks one does after misadventure. He counted his fingers. He checked to make sure his limbs were intact and moved around. He checked his head for any bumps or contusions. He seemed to be in full health as far as he could tell. He stood up.

There was a sudden smell of a mix of peat and blood that strangely did not smell too bad. Any displeasure was offset by the realization that his sense of smell still worked. Another test passed with flying colors.

“Please have a seat, Mr. Caldwin,” a woman’s voice said. He looked back at the table and there was a woman sitting in a chair that had not been there before. She was wearing a wide-brimmed hat in such a way that he could not see her face. He had not seen or heard her come into the room. He sat down. As soon as he did, he noticed a steaming cup of coffee that had also not been there before. He drank without hesitation and without consideration even afterward. His anxiety lessened. The woman was looking at some sort of file folder.

“Thank you,” John said. “I mean for the coffee, of course, but also for whatever you did to keep me alive.”

“You’re not strictly alive,” the woman said without looking up. She wrote something quickly.

“I beg to differ,” John said. “Everything seems to be in working order and I’m not a bleeding wreck on the ground in an alley.”

“Well yes,” the woman said. “We are responsible for that. So you’re welcome.”

There was a long silence after that little exchange. John slowly sipped his coffee and watched the woman’s hat bob a bit as she read and wrote in the file folder. He was uncomfortable with the silence. The woman seemed to be just fine with silence.

“So you know my name,” John said, waiting for the obvious answer.

“I do,” the woman said. She kept her focus on her file folder without fail.

“And you are…” John said, trailing off to let the woman fill in the blank.

“Very busy,” the woman said. She finally looked up and John was taken aback to realize that she had no face. Where a face would have been, there was a blur that was uncomfortable to look at. John found himself staring at her hat rather than trying to establish eye contact with non-existent eyes.

“I don’t mean to be rude but you seem to be missing your face,” John said, trying to be helpful. “It’s just not there.” He managed calm words but he felt the cold stab of fear.

The woman sighed. “It’s not missing,” she said. “I just don’t have one. I’m not a human. I’m more of a concept. Please focus on the important things.” She closed her file folder and it ceased to exist.

“Is this the part where you explain things to me?” John asked. “I really need it to be the part where you explain things to me.” A headache was slowly forming behind his eyes.

The woman sighed again. “I don’t have time for that,” she said. “This book will explain everything.” She placed a leatherbound book on the table and then she vanished into thin air. At least she left the coffee behind.


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