Control – A weird horror game with a dash of humour

An office building full of ghosts, an involuntary heroine, and a bit of weird humour: These are the ingredients Control uses to cook up an exciting-yet-creepy adventure – definitely for adults only. — 505 Games/dpa

An office building full of ghosts, an involuntary heroine, and a bit of weird humour: These are the ingredients Control uses to cook up an exciting-yet-creepy adventure definitely for adults only.

Players face a kind of bureaucratic nightmare in Control, the new horror action game from Finnish developer Remedy Entertainment.

The developer is already known for creating the gangster saga Max Payne and the Stephen King tribute Alan Wake. This new game owes something to the master of horror fiction with a dash of The X-files thrown into the mix.

At the heart of the story is a fictional agency, the Federal Bureau of Control (FBC). Similar to the CIA or FBI, its job is to protect the United States from enemies – not from domestic and foreign ones, but ones that come from parallel universes.

But something has gone badly wrong: When Jesse Faden arrives at the headquarters of the authority in New York she finds a scene of horror. Many of the FBC's employees appear to be dead, red lights dance through the corridors and ghostly voices can be heard.

By this chain of unfortunate circumstances Jesse Faden ends up as de facto boss of the FBC. Her mission is to investigate what has happened and stop this sinister power from seizing the world outside the building.

If it sounds weird, that's because it truly is. But Control manages to combine real, existential horror with the skillful use of humour. For example, even in an authority that fights daily with supernatural phenomena, there's a dispute over who cleans the coffee machine.

Players need patience and attentiveness until all the puzzles and unanswered questions form a complete picture. And there are a lot of files, memos and journal entries to read in the course of the adventure.

If you prefer simple, easily digestible stories, Control will not be for you. Fortunately, under the horror and the wacky story there's a technically solid and graphically spectacular game, albeit one that follows the familiar conventions of the genre.

Jesse has a special firearm to fight against zombie-like enemies, ghosts and other phenomena and she also develops psychic abilities. Using telekinesis, she can hurl pieces of office furniture at her opponents or use them as a shield.

There are puzzles aplenty for Jesse to solve and above all a lot of running around. The game has a relatively open structure. It's always clear what Jesse has to do next but the player has plenty of opportunity to freely explore the FBC headquarters.

The exploring is worthwhile, because there's a lot to discover in the building – small plotlines, tricky puzzles and new skills.

Countless resources are needed to help Jesse build new equipment or unlock abilities – in fact, so many that they tend to distract from the game's strengths.

Control is available now for the Playstation 4, the Xbox One and Windows PCs for around US$60 (RM251). It's not a very bloody game but the intense and weird horror scenario means that it's best suited for players aged 16 and older. – dpa

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