Last summer, Jesse Feyden unexpectedly for herself became the director of the mysterious FBK agency - and, as it should be for a novice manager, she saved humanity from the invasion of monsters from another dimension. However, although the story of Control has come to its logical conclusion, the battle with the unknown is not over yet: the Eldest House is still full of secrets and dangers, which are called upon to be told by two large (in words, at least) plot DLCs. And just seven months after the premiere of the game, The Foundation , the first bonus chapter, became available to owners of the seasonal pass . What is remarkable for a fresh addition to one of the brightest hits of 2019?
From a little-known studio to a trendsetter of genre fashion, the gaming industry (and the whole show business as a whole) is full of stories of this kind. But life does not end at a beautiful still frame at the zenith of fame: success, no matter how deafening it may seem, must always be consolidated. And here, as a rule, young developers start having problems. Remedy Entertainment is a fun example.
Almost 20 years ago, the studio made a loud statement about itself with the help of Max Payne, an innovative thriller that combines the features of 70s neon costumes and the bloody ballet from John Wu 's films(John Woo). A brutal, incredibly cinematic and unforgiving militant with a bright protagonist instantly won the hearts of gamers around the world - although the Death Rally race was already on the team’s track record by that time , it was the misadventures of the harsh New York cop that helped the Finns find their calling. However, as soon as the shots fired and the shells fell to the floor, a logical question hung in the air: what next? And then there were many controversial attempts by Remedy to surpass his first (and greatest) triumph.
The long-awaited Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne secured the collective status of masters of shootings in “slow-mo”, but, for all its merits, it felt like trampling on the spot. Alan Wake promised to be a breakthrough ... until the first version of the project (with an open world and an unusual approach to storytelling) got stuck in a production hell. After several years of creative throwing, only a miserable stump of the original idea reached the public: a beautifully written thriller with a boring run around the picturesque Washington forests. A popular Quantum Break , in words an amazing hybrid of the friv game and the series in the spirit of Netflix products? Despite her pompous advertising campaign and amusing idea, she was not lucky enough to become a national hit for a number of reasons (including inconsistent dynamics and many flaws).
Remedy Entertainment fell into a trap: chasing genre revolutions and large budgets, the eminent studio seemed to have forgotten why fans fell in love with the original Max Payne . The audience was captivated not so much by slowing down the time as by a combination of fascinating narrative and excellent, incredibly intense shooting - a combination that, unfortunately, the subsequent releases of the company could not boast of. Fortunately, the Finns realized the mistake and quickly took control of the situation.
First introduced at E3 2018, Control instantly enchanted the public. The minimalist, chamber project was seen as the antithesis of AAA products in recent years: instead of yet another attempt to give the blockbuster to Hollywood envy, the team decided to make an interactive likeness of The Twilight Zone and David Lynch tapes . Despite a couple of troubling news, including a disappointing Steam deal with the Epic Games Store, an action movie with metro-diving elements was carefully waiting. And he did not disappoint.
Mysterious atmosphere, peppy, a bit old-school shootings, telekinesis in the best traditions of Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy- and all against the background of an excellent setting with bright heroes in the supporting roles. Yes, the friv game can be criticized for budgeting and technical gluttony (each item in each room has a physical model after all), but the authors coped with the main thing: the world in which Jesse Feyden found herself really excites the imagination. Although many events are presented in the form of emphasized dry correspondence a la SCP Foundation, the creation of Remedy at its best moments vividly reminds a nightmare - a kaleidoscope of surrealistic delirium, which is so interesting to study in reality. You can forgive much for this.
It would seem that’s all, but no: shortly after the premiere, the developers announced several DLC sets for 2020. Technically, of course, the first portion of bonus content (the mediocre set of The Expeditions arenas ) was released back in December, but it looked like a warm-up before a real (read: story) immersion in the abyss of the secrets of the Eldest House. After the announcement of The Foundation and AWE, questions puzzled my head. How will the Finns continue their undertaking? Will designers correct the annoying mistakes of the original? And finally, where will the fans get into the wild imagination of the creators of Max Payne and Alan Wake ? Well, now, after the release of the first major addition, the answer is obvious.
Control: The Foundation events begin shortly after the end of the original campaign. Jesse receives a special assignment from the Council: to go down to the Base (a system of tunnels under the headquarters of the Bureau) and repair the so-called Nail - a giant black monolith. If this is not taken care of as soon as possible, the situation risks becoming critical not only for the agency building, but for the whole world.
The plot, to put it mildly, is not too promising - and the gameplay, alas, is a match for it. It’s sad to write this, but this plot episode makes an unusually lousy first impression. After amazing events and a journey through the Labyrinth, incredible in its ingenuity, the ashtrays of running around linear caves with red sand are perceived not as a step, but as a jump back. Even visually: in mines, unlike offices, there is neither a unique style nor curious architecture - only brownish guts that stretch and stretch, as if the designers took the day off.
Over time, the situation improves slightly. As soon as Jesse receives distinct goals and two abilities to choose from (at first you can take only one, the second is given later), the DLC becomes noticeably more spacious - and somewhat more entertaining in terms of scenery. The authors, alas, do not refuse from poorly lit grottoes, but besides them, the heroine has to climb into a hefty warehouse tower, walk through an office that suddenly fell into the ground, once again fly across the Astral Dimension ... Nothing special or hitherto unprecedented, alas, didn’t deliver, however, observing the secondary scenery is more pleasant than wandering through monotonous dungeons with a million stalactites.
To brighten up routine runs back and forth in search of giant ritual plates and the ubiquitous cubes-generators, battles with new opponents are called upon, among which constantly teleporting soldiers with pickaxes at the ready were cluttered. Monsters, despite the not too impressive design, are very dangerous, especially in the crowd.
Fortunately, Feyden got a couple of tricks that make battle a little easier. Firstly, her telepathic (and once relatively useless) shield can now kill monsters at a short distance. The Shield Rush attack works well in close combat, especially against small reptiles that die from two to three hits. Secondly, thanks to the inventive employees of FBK, unique terminals for calling for help appeared in the corridors of the Oldest House. The partner is always the same (a ranger with a gun), but it's better than running around the corridors in splendid isolation. Rather, one might think so in the first place - until you get involved in a battle with a bodyguard.
In fact, it turns out that there is no practical benefit from agents: they are annoyingly stupid and surprisingly weak. They can’t even be given simple commands - in combat, a soldier runs by himself, screams, gets stuck in corners and passes by monsters whom he should kill in a good way. Virtually no use from stupid blanks - except to distract enemy fire from the director. Yes, with such elite fighters it’s not at all surprising that the Jesses easily captured the building last summer.
Against the background of rather dull main tasks (go there, turn it on, click on it, kill the boss), the side content looks much more advantageous. For example, documents and audio recordings scattered here and there, as before, are sincerely interesting to read: they reveal new details from the life of the Bureau and its key employees, offer unexpected mini-stories, which sometimes cause frosty skin. Remedy has always done a great job in exploring universes, and The Foundation is not disappointing in this regard.
With side missions, everything is not so smooth, but also rather good. In addition, you can find three unique quests, one of which is extremely boring, the second takes on the impressive features of the Northlight engine, and the third breaks fingers and destroys nerve cells with its complexity. But it is the last mission that is remembered better than the rest - if not by inhuman design, then at least a vivid picture, coupled with excellent musical accompaniment.
Unfortunately, there are no other such impressive scenes and finds in the DLC. There is a funny secret with some maneki figures, there is a slightly brainwashing issue of the "children's" TV show The Threshold Kids, even an astral toilet is available ... However, in general, the novelty is extremely empty and inexpressive, like the two bonus chapters of the original "Alan Wake".
Control: The Foundation game review
Of course, Remedy did nothing frankly bad : yes, AI and faceless caves can be scolded, but on the whole everything is as sterile as possible, it will “get off”. The sad thing is that for all four hours of the mini-campaign the painful feeling that the team has completed the minimum program does not leave, nothing more. One can only hope that this is not laziness or lack of ideas, but simply a desire to save energy for the next, much more intriguing episode with the participation of one famous writer. Otherwise, why bother spending time on small things when you can do a full sequel?
After discovering every secret nook and fix of the Nail Control: The Foundation does not pull to scold. At the same time, the DLC absolutely does not want to praise. The first plot extension is simply there, like a mediocre still life in a picture gallery full of masterpieces.
However, another thing is curious - a fresh chapter clearly demonstrates what the main game could have been without inspiring Remedy Entertainment for inspiration. Without the gloomy monologues of Director Trench over the phone and the charming videos of Dr. Darling, they are left with only a dynamic, if not fussy action and an amusing, but a bit soulless metrodiving in an office building full of monsters. The devil is in the details - and The Foundation shows what happens if these very details are mercilessly removed.
Pros: new opponents and abilities; a couple of vivid scenes; many intriguing touches to the setting; still interesting gameplay and sometimes witty jokes.
Cons: boring dark caves; disgusting AI allies; excesses with difficulty in side missions; brevity; translation with errors; the general optionalness of the supplement is with such a price tag.