Control is a very unique game because it may be the first game I’ve reviewed here that I’m not sure on what my recommendation is. Usually I go into a review leaning either positive or negative on a game. Control…I’m conflicted on.
Control is Remedy’s latest, and they’re a favorite studio of mine – they produced Alan Wake and the first two Max Payne games. Ten minutes into the game I was all in on the world, the aesthetic, the lore of Control. Remedy knocked that out of the park and I was ready to put this game at the top of my GOTY contenders.
Then the rest of the game happened.
I love Control. But I also hate Control. I’ve never felt so strongly for and against a game – normally either I love it despite its flaws, or it’s terrible despite a few bright spots. Control is somehow both. So I’m going to hash out everything I love and hate about this game in this review and let’s see where I end up.
So I’ve been thinking a bit and I’ve decided that video games need to rethink the “game over.” In fact, I think the idea of a fail state in games is an unnecessary holdover from the games where you had lives and continues. Yes, having a game over and having to restart from a certain point adds challenge to the game. But in general, with the way games are developed nowadays, often times the fail state just adds aggravation to what is otherwise a wonderful gaming experience.
The problem, of course, is that most games are based around death. Killing enemies to progress is a large chunk of gameplay loops, and the easiest way to add challenge to the loop is for the enemies to, you know, kill back. Health bars/indicators/numbers are the main tracking agent and when you hit 0, time for a fail state to show you didn’t live up to the challenge!
But, and bear with me here, what if that wasn’t the case? What if we figured out a way for games to keep their challenge but eliminate the need to make the player feel bad because they didn’t shoot the guy with the one-hit KO attack fast enough? What if we eliminated the silly QTEs that if you missing pressing a single button you have to do an entire sequence over again?
I’m going to talk about some games that have recently opened my eyes to how good a lack of a fail state is, and how some games have been hindered because of fail states, and how some games have given you an illusion of a fail state but don’t actually have one and that’s what games should try to live up to.