Once I wrapped up my final hours with Alan Wake 2, I was overwhelmingly hungry for more. Alan Wake 2 was an experience unlikely any other in recent memory. It was surreal, beautiful, and of a unique, visionary style specific to Remedy Entertainment, the Finnish studio behind the game. To that end, there was only one title I could lean on to satiate my appetite until the Alan Wake 2 DLC and that game was Control. I played Control when it was originally released on PS4 but never revisited it for the DLC or when the Ultimate Edition was released on the next-gen consoles so now was the perfect time to re-experience Jesse Faden’s paranormal journey through the Oldest House. In 2019, Control marked a new era of Remedy after the interesting but, ultimately, questionable Quantum Break. Now in 2023, off the heels of Alan Wake 2, the Control has been elevated even further as I can’t help but appreciate all that it has set in motion.

What is Control?

At its core, Control is a 3rd person action-adventure game released by Remedy Entertainment back in 2019 and then rereleased on current-gen hardware in 2021. After playing through it for the first time, I remembered thinking it was a really great game with some questionable but not overly detracting gameplay systems and an amazingly weird vibe. For the uninitiated, Control focuses on the story of Jesse Faden as she finds herself at the headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Control, a place known as the Oldest House, in search of her brother who was taken many years ago. In its eerie, ever-shifting halls, the Oldest House is a central hub for all manner of supernatural phenomena that, in the FBC’s pursuit of knowledge, finds itself under attack by an entity known as the Hiss. There’s so much to unpack in Control that mere words will often fail to do it justice. Fighting using psychic powers and a transforming gun, traversing while people under hypnosis and hissing are littered throughout the halls, and coming across mundane objects tainted with the unknown barely scratches the surface of the incredibly fleshed-out lore of and setting of Control, akin to the stories found in the SCP Foundation. Control was the culmination of everything Remedy had built with each new game under their belt and would be the foundation upon which future games would rely, heavily.

A World Connected

When Control was released a few years ago, it was a new starting point for Remedy and a new “unique” vision: folding their games into a shared universe. I say unique but we all know we live in the era of cross-overs thanks to Marvel, Fornite, and every greedy businessman looking for their slice of the pie. However, what sets Remedy apart is their heart and flare for the unimaginable. Since the early days of Max Payne into Alan Wake and Quantum Break, Remedy has always tried to push its games into new territories. The television show aspect of Quantum Break wasn’t bad at the core but, ultimately, it failed to meet the happy middle ground that Control and then Alan Wake 2 were able to succeed on with their Live-Action scenes, in part thanks to QB’s sacrifice. Remedy brings a surreal quality to all their projects with their clear David Lynch inspirations, among many others, and their seldom-seen (in mainstream Western media) Finnish sensibilities, creating a vibe that few can match. At its core, Control is just that, a vibe. Not a happy one but a disturbing, eerie one that you can’t look away from.

Very quickly into the opening hours of either game, you’re bombarded by the number of direct similarities between Control and Alan Wake 2, some more subtle while others taken directly out of the predecessor. Familiar faces and echoes inspired by a certain character, all make you realize just how much Alan Wake 2 is a direct evolution of Control rather than just of the original Alan Wake. Retroactively, this made me, immediately, even more invested in Control’s story and world to see what other connections I missed or forgot about along the way. In a world oversaturated by multi-verses and cross-overs, Remedy’s universe feels like a genuine attempt at creating something special that builds upon itself for the better instead of various unrelated stories in the same proximity. This is all thanks to the core conceit of Control, an organization born from the pursuit of the supernatural, allowing it to make perfect sense when you find agents from the Federal Bureau of Control investigating the occurrences of Alan Wake 2. By connecting the worlds in intelligent ways, Control becomes the epicenter of the larger picture that extends out to Alan Wake, Quantum Break, and Max Payne, making you further interested in how each new title in the various series will build upon it.

A Freeing Gameplay Experience

If Alan Wake 2 is stressful and plotting, Control is fun and free, even if under a disturbing coat of paint. Where one gameplay experience serves the story it is telling, Control’s psychic abilities are, arguably, one of the selling points that end up being elevated by the world around it. On paper, the abilities are fairly simple, throwing around objects to deal damage, creating a shield, quick evading, etc. but, in practice, they blend together for an extremely satisfying psychic-based gameplay experience, unmatched by few others. Now, that’s not all to say there isn’t any trouble or issues with Control. While playing, I’ve been reminded of the one aspect of the game that I didn’t love then and I’d say I love even less now, the needless “live-service” type mechanics in a single-player game with no microtransactions. To be honest, even though it wasn’t that long ago, the random loot with various rarities, uninspired currencies, and timer-based repeatable missions are all a sign of the times and date Control to a specific era in gaming. However, looking past the bits around it, the core gameplay of Control outweighs my gripes with how Remedy attempted to design it with more staying power. At the end of the day, Control is a fun, liberating game to play and that’s all it needs to be.


During its post-release support, Control received two DLC expansions: The Foundation and AWE, standing for Altered World Events or, in this case, Alan Wake Experience. With this being my first time experiencing the DLC, it’s amazing to see how much of Alan Wake 2 was set up from the AWE expansion. Characters and events are directly referenced and set up for AW2 as the DLC bridges the long gap between the original and its sequel. Furthermore, the expansion focuses on tying up a particular loose end from the original Alan Wake that was assumed to go unaddressed, at this point. Where the Foundation was more Control, AWE feels much more creative and inventive as it attempts to replicate the light-based mechanics of Alan Wake but in Control’s toolset. Staying out of the dark while using telekinesis to hold light sources may be considered limiting compared to the rest of the game but it ends up being a loving tribute to the studio’s history and future. While not necessary for playing what comes after, AWE is an excellent piece of content that has only grown more impactful compared to its original release.

While playing the original Alan Wake is a must for Alan Wake 2, I’d argue Control is such a powerful companion piece that it may as well be required. There’s so much to gain from both games that I can’t imagine experiencing either devoid of the other. On its own, Control is a great 12 to 15-hour experience that sets up the wider world of Remedy’s new vision and is still worth it on its own merits. With its all-star cast from Remedy’s history, Control is a mind-numbing world that blends fast-paced psychic gameplay with an unforgettable tone. I liked Control before and I can’t help but appreciate it all the more now.