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Tuesday, September 1, 2020

[Review] The Final DLC Episode of ‘Control’ Sees a Welcome, if Brief, Return to the World of ‘Alan Wake’

“It’s not a lake… it’s an ocean.” These are the infamous closing lines to Alan Wake that left fans eagerly anticipating returning to the world of Bright Falls. After reacquiring the rights to the franchise from Microsoft last year, Remedy is finally bringing players back to the world of Alan Wake not via a direct sequel, but rather through their latest and final DLC for Control, AWE.

I’ll get the first question out of the way right out of the gate: this is not meant as a sequel to Alan Wake. There are numerous files you can find throughout this new content, but Remedy mostly uses the world of Alan Wake as a backdrop, not moving its plot forward in any meaningful way. We had already received hints that the Federal Bureau of Control had been investigating Bright Falls following the events of Alan Wake, and the DLC amps up the integration by pitting you against Dr. Hartman, a manipulative psychiatrist who tried to use Wake’s gifts for sinister purposes. 

The mission starts off with Jesse getting psychic visions of Alan Wake that send you into the Investigations Sector of The Oldest House, a closed-off sector that’s haunted by the menacing presence of Hartman, who has been warped into a twisted monstrosity from his exposure to both the Darkness and the Hiss. To eliminate him, you’ll have to explore three wings of this sector, each focusing on a different investigation into an Alerted World Event, or AWE. 

control awe review 00

While this DLC doesn’t so much to change up the core gameplay of Control, the tone and mood definitely gleans a lot from Alan Wake. The brutalist architecture of the Oldest House is now drowned in shadow, giving you the unnerving feeling of going back to an empty office late at night and getting spooked by every creak you hear while at your desk. This focus on light and darkness also extends to some fun, light-based puzzles, forcing you to figure out how to turn on the power to get past barriers or make creatures vulnerable. Control was always creepy, so it’s great to see them lean more directly into the horror with this expansion. 

Don’t think that the move to a spookier tone causes the game to lose its signature weirdness; there are plenty of goofy, surreal moments. For example, after getting some information from a bureau member over the intercom, I sat and listened to him rant for five minutes, touching topics ranging from how people think he’s weird to his relationship with the person who feeds his cat, a cat he admits he doesn’t remember getting. It’s completely unnecessary, but full of so much charming strangeness that it’s easy to just put down the controller and listen. Also, be sure to keep your eye out for misbehaving vending machines… 

The non-Bright Falls Altered World Events that you explore in the Investigations Sector help paint a wider picture of the bizarre types of cases the FBC looks into, but it never feels as important as the events of Foundation, Control’s first DLC, which had revelations about the history of the bureau itself. There are some great tidbits about a haunted train and an entity related to Apollo 14, but on The X-Files scale, this is definitely a monster of the week episode rather than one about the ongoing conspiracy.

Despite widening the world of Control, this expansion felt a bit slighter than the Foundation. After finishing the three-hour main story, I went back to mop up side quests that were unlocked by my progression. The two of them that focused on the AWEs were puzzle-focused and could be finished up in ten minutes or so, while a third one only served to introduce you to the new Arcade Mode, accessed via a literal arcade machine. This new mode not only offers a wave-based challenge mode, but also gives you the opportunity to replay some bosses and sequences from the main game.  Rounding out the new content is a weapon that lets you shoot sticky bombs and some more Ahti tasks that ask you to clean up mold and darkness in the sector, but overall, there wasn’t quite as much to do. 

While this isn’t intended to be an Alan Wake sequel fans wanted it to be, it’s a great, if short, new episode in the infinitely interesting Control. It’s a shame this is the final DLC for the game, because I would gladly come back for one-off episodes set in this world over and over again. While the Foundation did a good job of showing the depth of the concept by digging deeper into the origins of the FBC, AWE shows its breadth by illustrating just how much the main concept can be stretched into other shapes. A more horror-focused tone fits perfectly in the world, leaving me to wonder what other directions the world could be taken. Even if the crossover with Alan Wake ended up being more minimal than hoped, it showed that the proposed Remedy Connected Universe is definitely not a lake, but rather an ocean. While this may be the end of Control, there’s no doubt we’ll see the FBC show up in whatever game they give us next.

AWE review code provided by the publisher.

Control’s AWE DLC is out now on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/video-games/3629885/review-final-dlc-episode-control-sees-welcome-brief-return-world-alan-wake/

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