A stunning, brilliant videogame trip.

Screenshot from the game

Blindly diving into this PC videogame shooter released in . Control languished on my wishlist, nearly forgotten, until I snagged it for €9.99 on a Steam sale.

The , impressed so far. The opening level throws you into a desolate government building, instantly setting the game’s eerie atmosphere. Though clueless about your own purpose, a strange sense of belonging washes over you, pulling you deeper into the unknown. The brutalist architecture and vibes are stunning, but the weak, scarce enemies made me wonder if it’s more of a walking simulator than a shooter.

A in, the difficulty ramped up. It’s a shooter, alright. My trusty Service Weapon, the only gun you get, is probably the most awesome gun in any game. But here’s my first critique: interaction with the world feels limited. No picking up enemy weapons? Can’t use those med kits in the medical cabinets you rip out with satisfying violence? Immersion takes a hit.

The lighting, though? Breathtaking. Back in , it was among the first to utilize real-time ray tracing, and it shows. Imagine an eerie dark room bathed in the green glow of an old CRT monitor - stunning, but unfortunately fixed and indestructible. Asset reuse doesn’t help either. While the grandiose room designs compensated, identical offices with the same chairs and desks led to occasional moments of “have I been here before?”

Around the , I assumed gameplay had plateaued. Repetitive grind, here I come? But wait… superpowers! This twist adds a thrilling new dimension to the game.

Some in, the story truly clicked. While I won’t spoil anything, the game blurs the lines between good and evil, keeping me constantly questioning the true motives of everyone involved. The Remedy Entertainment touch (creators of Alan Wake) is evident in the captivating narrative, where time-constrained side missions organically fit into the main story arc, even if their timing is often inconvenient (right in the middle of a mid-boss fight, seriously?).

Over in. First time I notice this game throws away the minimap! Instead, you rely on a map for general direction, hints scattered around the level design, and your own memory to navigate. Sure, I sometimes got lost, but that became part of the fun.

Enemy variety was decent, with the usual mix of heavy-hitters, agile foes, and flying nuisances. Backtracking annoyance came from enemies respawning in cleared areas, which made sense story-wise but felt tedious, especially without intermediate saves (the game auto-saves only at specific points).

Puzzles! Not brain-busters, but enough to make you pause and appreciate the world-building. They are mostly pattern-matching variations, but the diversity keeps them engaging. The collectibles (letters and audio tapes) are optional and don’t impact gameplay, but they enrich the story for lore-hungry players.

At around the mark, I reached the Ashtray Maze. As I finished the level, I thought to myself, “This is awesome!”. Coincidentally, at the same moment, the protagonist echoed my sentiment, exclaiming, “That was awesome!” Undoubtedly, this level stands out as the game’s highlight.

After roughly of enthralling gameplay, the main story reached its conclusion, though not quite the ending I expected. The story takes a rather downbeat turn at the close.

Control has stolen a place in my favorite shooters’ hall of fame. It’s a grandiose, stunning, and ultimately brilliant trip that shouldn’t be missed!