Control’s Jesse Faden is a force to be reckoned with. Aside from her Service Weapon, a transforming gun, her main defense against the dangerous supernatural force known as The Hiss is her ever-growing arsenal of powerful abilities that bring devastating results. During our cover story trip, we spoke to Remedy about their creation, and tried a slew of abilities ourselves during a hands-on demo.
From Max Payne’s bullet-time to Alan Wake’s encounters with the paranormal, most of Remedy’s games feature some supernatural element. Remedy wanted to take that a step further with Control. “In this case, we actually have a supernatural hero who has abilities,” game director Mikael Kasurinen says. “Sure, in Quantum [Break] we had similar ideas, but I think here we’re really, really embracing that through the different attacks you can do. That was a conscious decision from the get-go: Let’s embrace that you have supernatural powers and go as far as we can with them.”
However, the team didn’t want to go so far down the path of supernatural abilities that Control felt unrecognizable to players. One rule the team wanted to adhere to was the notion that abilities should feel somewhat grounded in reality. “Though they are crazy and extraordinary, there’s kind of this realistic flair to them,” Kasurinen says. “Everything you see is what you’d imagine it to look like. We want to avoid magical [visual effects] like fireballs and things like that. We try to use the art and visuals of this world and use that in an extraordinary or supernatural way.”
This desire to remain somewhat grounded is obvious as Jesse branches from ability to ability in the demo I played. Each of her combat-focused powers feature manipulation of the environment in some way, whether you’re ripping up part of the floor to act as a shield or telekinetically grabbing a nearby fire extinguisher to use as a projectile. Even her melee has subtle hints of using the environment, as nearby objects briefly move toward her before exploding out, signaling a compression of air before it blows out as a punchy melee attack.
Jesse also has several abilities focused on traversal. Levitate and Evade allow her to reach new areas, giving the game some light Metroid-style progression mechanics. While much of this gated progression is centered around the security clearance level you raise throughout the campaign, several points of interest require you to use a particular ability to reach them. A prime example is a moment when Jesse comes to a bridge that is out and she must use Levitate to float over the gap. If she doesn’t have that ability yet, she just has to come back once she does.
As Jesse progresses through the Federal Bureau of Control’s enigmatic headquarters, The Oldest House, she encounters Objects of Power. These Objects of Power grant her new abilities. However, before she can inherit the ability of that Object of Power, Jesse must demonstrate her worthiness in the Astral Plane. The Astral Plane hosts multiple surprises for players, but one of its key functions is as a proving ground for Jesse – and a mini-tutorial for players.
In the demo, Jesse is transported to the Astral Plane after an encounter with an Object of Power. In this particular instance, she is asked to show her understanding of the new ability known as Seize. She encounters an enemy impervious to her bullets and abilities. The only way to damage it is by using Seize to bend the wills of other enemies and make them join her side. Using this, she turns multiple enemies to allies, who then turn their guns on the head honcho. Once the main enemy is defeated using this method, Jesse returns to The Oldest House, new ability in tow.
Using Seize to capture the wills of enemies like the heavy grenadiers or elusive flying menaces is the primary function of this ability, but Jesse can also Seize Hiss Clusters, which buff and heal nearby enemies. Seizing a Hiss Cluster means you get those benefits for yourself, helping immensely in intense battles.
Jesse’s abilities don’t exist in a vacuum. Combining more traversal-focused powers with her combat abilities is satisfying and effective. Branching between abilities like Levitate with Melee even create new attacks like Ground Slam, a satisfying smash into the floor that deals area-of-effect damage. Another effective combination involves using Shield to pull rubble from the ground, then launching it at enemies to stun them. You can also mix in Evade as you float around to not only duck away from attacks coming your way, but also to get the drop on nearby enemies. Closing the distance on a group of faraway enemies is easy using Jesse’s upgraded suite of abilities.
Though it features a heavy emphasis on using your abilities, Control also encourages you to use your gun in combat. The Service Weapon is more effective against enemy health than abilities. However, that doesn’t mean it’s outright more powerful, as abilities are more effective against enemy shields.
We took her myriad abilities for a spin and got the scoop on how players can use them. You can see them in action for yourself below.
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