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Control: AWE Review

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The highly anticipated and final DLC of Control by Remedy Entertainment is now out on all platforms. It introduces a new area of the Oldest House called the Investigations Sector where, upon entering, Jesse is greeted by apparitions of Alan Wake, a famous writer who disappeared years prior and is now revealed to have been involved in a previous Altered World Event.

Control: AWE

For a little background, Alan Wake initially released in 2010. In it you play as Alan Wake, a famous writer suffering from writer’s block, who goes on vacation to the town of Bright Falls with his wife to attempt to overcome it. During what is supposed to be a relaxing trip, his wife goes missing and it is up to Alan to discover what happened to her. Control makes multiple references to these events throughout its in-game documentation, and it is discovered that the lake they are vacationing at is a threshold that causes an artist’s works to become real. Not an ideal situation for a crime fiction author.

Control takes place years after these events and it is now up to Jesse to try and unravel the mystery of how Alan Wake is connected to the Bureau. Control’s AWE DLC also happens to be the first official release of content as part of the Remedy Connected Universe, where separate games will share lore, characters, and story with each other. 

I think Control and Alan Wake both lend themselves incredibly well to be the first step in this new project. The universes blend together incredibly well and it doesn’t feel forced, which is essential in making an endeavour like this successful.

As far as gameplay in AWE goes, it revolves around trying to contain Dr. Emil Hartman – a psychologist who was studying the Bright Falls Altered World Event. As a last attempt to understand it, he dives into Cauldron Lake, a pivotal location in Alan Wake, where he is immediately consumed by “the Shadow”, a dark force that is the main antagonist of Alan Wake. It twists Hartman into a monstrous form that looks to be in pain as it shambles around in the dark.

Jesse’s goal is to keep Hartman contained and eventually defeat him to prevent him from wreaking havoc on the rest of the Bureau, which he now has the potential to do since you just opened up the Investigations Sector.

Control: AWE Review

There isn’t anything new in terms of abilities that are going to change up the gameplay, but Control does borrow a page from Alan Wake by weaponizing light. Hartman is weak to it, so in all of the encounters with him you’ll be frantically trying to keep the lights on while avoiding the shadows. 

Throughout the sector, there are also masses of darkness that can be burned away by carrying floodlights around with Jesse’s telekinetic powers. There is also a new enemy called the Hiss Airborne Ranger and a new weapon form that is basically a sticky grenade launcher, but beyond that there isn’t much new to experience in terms of gameplay. This is a bit disappointing when compared to The Foundation DLC that added in two new abilities to play around with.

The coolest feature that is added, at least in my opinion, is the Arcade Plane. The Arcade Plane introduces time trials, a horde mode, and allows the replaying of boss fights and certain areas – more specifically the Ashtray Maze, which is the most kick-ass part of the main game. But again, this doesn’t really add much new to the experience of the base game. Don’t get me wrong, I love it when games allow you to replay sections like this, and I think it’s great they are adding it. But it doesn’t really feel like DLC content.

control awe review 3

AWE feels more like a teaser for a second Alan Wake game than anything. I can’t classify it as a bad expansion, but neither is it really a good one. Control as a game is good, the gameplay is good, the story is good, and really the only complaint I have about it is the menu lag which is still lingering, but besides that Control is a superb game, which is why any DLC is going to be fun at least on some level. Any excuse to fly around and throw forklifts at our enemies is welcome.

At the end of AWE I had spent around three hours playing through the area, chasing Hartman, and ultimately defeating him. But the conclusion wasn’t really satisfying. Hartman is defeated but there are no real answers, and since this is Control’s final DLC it’s unlikely those answers will come anytime soon. On the whole the AWE on Xbox One just seems lackluster and doesn’t wrap up Control as nicely as I was hoping it would.

Ryan Taylor
Ryan Taylor
Grew up playing the Nintendo 64 where I fell in love with the Legend of Zelda series. As I got older though my console of choice changed, first to PS2, and then finally to the Xbox 360, which I've been playing on for over a decade now. And since my first day booting up my Xbox, I've upgraded consoles and even built a gaming PC. Because at the end of the day I just love gaming.
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