CONTROL: The Cathartic Quarantine Video Game I Didn’t Know I Needed

new_jesseA few weeks into quarantine, I bought CONTROL on the purest of impulse buys.  It had been on my list for a while, my stimulus check had just arrived, and it was on sale for basically half off.   I didn’t know it then, but CONTROL would soon become the activity I turned to when I needed to vent my frustrations and feel like I had some – wait for it – control in this crazy mixed-up world we live in since coronavirus hit the scene.

In CONTROL, you play as Jesse Faden, a young woman who has spent years searching for The Oldest House.  This supernatural building contains the Federal Bureau of Control, a secret government organization that investigates and studies paranormal phenomenon and locks away items that are a danger to the public.  When Jesse arrives at The Oldest House, it quickly becomes clear that something has gone very, very, wrong.  Something from beyond our dimension has invaded, and the Director of the FBC is dead. In short order, The Oldest House itself selects you as the new Director, granting you a host of new abilities and leaving you responsible to fight whatever entity is attacking the FBC.

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On a surface level, CONTROL is a fairly standard emotional outlet.  It is VERY satisfying to telekinetically hurl slabs of concrete at monsters and watch them explode into a poof, or levitate into the air to shoot at your enemies below. But the part of CONTROL that is bringing me the most sanity right now isn’t the combat.  It’s that my job is to literally stabilize a place that is falling apart in a physical and metaphysical sense.

In simplest terms, The Oldest House is a kind of dimensional rift, and the recent attack has left the building increasingly untethered from our plane of reality.  This means walls are shifting, lights are dark and red, passageways are warped and cut off.  As you traverse The Oldest House to rescue enclaves of agents who are trapped or to find a MacGuffin, you come across Control Points, where leyline energy is strongest.

It is here that you use your most potent ability, to “cleanse” the area of enemy influence.  I will never, EVER get tired of watching Jesse slam her hands into the ground and watch the architecture around her literally shift from a menacing, chaotic mess, to the crisp, brightly lit lines of ordinary looking office building.  Point by point, Jesse brings order back to the house, making it safe(r) to traverse.

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There’s not a lot I can control about the world right now.  I can keep myself safe and stay indoors, but that’s about it.  But here, in this weird, upside down video game world, I CAN make a difference, and stabilize a chaotic pit.  CONTROL could not have come into my life at a better time.

17 thoughts on “CONTROL: The Cathartic Quarantine Video Game I Didn’t Know I Needed

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  1. Every time this game goes on sale I almost buy it but decide not to. After seeing how satisfying it is, I may have to get it next time.

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    1. I think Humble Bundle might have just put it on sale if you play on PC. I really enjoy that the game walks the line of being creepy without going full horror. And it is satisfying to shoot monsters.

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      1. Seems like it’s almost on sale more often than not on Humble Bundle. I just bought the Witcher 3 on sale recently, so I don’t know if I can justify buying another big game before I’ve even started that one. But it is tempting…

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      2. hahaha, I get it. I think the epic store is also having a sale where you get $10 off in addition to whatever the current sale price is (I say rather unhelpfully). The Witcher 3 is pretty massive from what I’ve heard, but I always like having different games for different moods.

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      3. I think I’ve got that covered. I own literally 100s (well, at least 150) games I haven’t played. It’s kind of a problem. But at least they’re all digital and don’t take up physical space.

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  2. This game was AMAZING. And all the powers you eventually get make you feel like a fucking GOD, lol. I’ve always been impressed by games by Remedy, I mean Alan Wake and Quantum Break were a couple of the best I’ve ever played, but this one really blew me away.

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    1. I’ve been curious about Quantum Break for ages, might need to check it out. I’m so glad I’ve splurged on this, I’ve put more hours into Control then FFVIIR, and I started them the same week.

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    1. I’d say it’s more unsettling and creepy than horror. There’s floating bodies throughout The Oldest House that are muttering, and there is a depiction of suicide at the very beginning of the game. There was one jump scare when a monster was hiding in an elevator. As someone who hates horror movies, this fit right in that niche of being atmospheric without scarring me for life.

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  3. I played a bunch of this game, but I dunno it just never grabbed me. But hearing you explain it in a way of taking back control for yourself was really inspiring. Really wish I didn’t get rid of my copy haha. Great post 🙂

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