Title: Control – The Foundation
Available on: PS4, PC (through Epic Games Store). Xbox One release coming June 25th.
Publisher: 505 Games
Version Tested: PS4
Official Site: https://controlgame.com/
Release Date: August 27, 2019
I can easily say Control was my favorite game I played last year. The cryptic story, haunting Oldest House, and kinetic combat are things I still gush about, nearly seven months after I reviewed the game. Developer Remedy Entertainment finally got around to releasing Control’s first paid DLC, The Foundation. If you enjoyed the base game, you certainly love the first of two expansions, even if it doesn’t strive to be more transparent in its story. The Foundation did a great job of getting me back into Control; I just wish it would have expanded on what was already a great game.
Once I got re-acclimated to combat and controls, I immediately started dipping into The Foundation. The titular area is far below the Oldest House and swaps the brutalist architecture for sandy floors and a confusing system of tunnels. I initially didn’t mind the change but found myself missing the sprawling office buildings, especially since I had spent so much time understanding the design of the Oldest House. There are flashes of bureau life in The Foundation, in case you find yourself missing it as much as I did. The new area is sprawling, but I got lost at times without the excellent sign postings Remedy peppered in the Oldest House. Luckily, getting lost in these caves had me discovering hidden areas and lots of cool environmental storytelling.
As for what you’re doing below the shifting building, the Astral Plan is leaking into the Oldest House, causing a bleeding effect of the two realms morphing into one. As the newest Director, Jesse must repair the mysterious Nail before it’s too late, all the while chasing after the missing Helen Marshall, the head of security. The Foundation dives deeper into the history of the Oldest House and the Bureau, all while sprinkling more confusion on this ice cream cone of the X-Files-inspired that is Control’s lore. If there’s one thing you can expect from Control, it’s dense collectibles to dive into if you’re a fan.
While I enjoy this sprinkling of information, I wish Control would offer more answers than questions. Who is The Board? What is The Board for that matter? The Foundation teases some rebellion happening, but will we get this in the next DLC or maybe in a future game? It was frustrating trying to figure out everything going on at times, and this pack doesn’t help in figuring out many of the clues teased before. Plus, what’s going on with Jesse’s brother? Once I finished the five-hour story, I realized I played what was equivalent to a long-form side mission.
Combat in Control is still one of my favorite systems in all of gaming today. The balance between using the form-changing Service Weapon and your telekinetic powers created a beautiful symphony of chaos and destruction that I talk about to everyone willing to listen. Standing still almost always leads to death, whether it’s because you’re getting overwhelmed by the number of enemies on-screen or if it’s because the new Hiss Shattered are hunting you down. The Foundation adds in two new powers for you to add to your repertoire, Shape and Shield Rush.
Shape has two forms; you get to choose your poison early in the story, neither of which I want to spoil. Let’s just say, I loved figuring out how to use my new ability in combat and seeing when I could utilize the power gave me a big smile, and my eyes widened when I saw a Hiss lined up on the receiving end. Shield Rush came in a free-for-everyone update that makes your Shield ability even better than before. At the press of a button, Jesse will call debris up to block gunshots and more, but now if you evade while holding said shield up, you’ll ram into the Hiss, blasting them out of your way to great effect. Both new abilities feel fantastic to use and, again, add to the overall chaotic nature of Control’s impeccable combat.
The Foundation also includes the return of Objects of Power. For reference, Objects of Power are everyday items, like a refrigerator, that house spectral forces causing a variety of out-of-this-world scenarios. While in short supply, these are the shining moments in The Foundation, transporting you to unique areas and forcing you to use your abilities in unexpected ways. One is a unique spin on the claustrophobia-inducing horror cliche; you’ll know when you see it. I’d take an entire game based on Objects of Power, and seeing what Remedy can come up with is astounding.
Verdict: I find the name of the DLC, The Foundation, fitting. Like building a house, you need to make sure the foundation is sturdy before you build your dream space. Control was already a great foundation, but instead of building up and crafting something amazing, Remedy continued to build upon that strong base. Combat is still crazy, the atmosphere is chilling the short story, and lack of end-game content mean once you’ve completed it, there won’t be much else for you to find. More Control isn’t a bad thing, but I look forward to seeing how crazy this house will get with a strong foundation.
- More Control
- New powers add to an already excellent combat
- Objects of Power are some of the best in the game
- Not a lot of content
- The story is just as, if not more, obtuse