Control - Reviews & Impressions

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glots

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#1  Edited By glots

It's almost time for a brand-new Remedy game to hit the streets, so let's set up a little thread in preparation! Control is coming out on the 27th, for PS4, Xbone and PC (EG Store exclusive for a year, let's try 'n keep the commentary about that to a minimum).

I've been fairly excited for this game since it's announcement, with that excitement only increasing when people who've got a chance to play it in advance (including Jeff) have come away from it with a positive experience.

I always found Alan Wake's gameplay to be way too janky for my taste and didn't own an Xbox or a powerful enough PC when Quantum Break came out (and haven't tried it afterwards), so for me it has basically been 16 years since I last played a Remedy game that was really good, so it would be about time for a new dose. Hopefully Control combines both tight gameplay and that quirky Remedy touch in a perfect way.

Come back here for those reviews in about 24 hours, when the embargo lifts!

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chaser324

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#2 chaser324  Moderator

I'm very interested in seeing how this game has turned out. Quantum Break was a bit of a misstep, but a lot of what I've seen of Control looks potentially very cool.

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glots

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#3  Edited By glots

Also since this game has you do a whole lot of tricks with your mind, you can mentally prepare for it by watching this fantastic video.

Loading Video...

Sadly Control likely won't feature any hit songs by Cold.

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TheSlipgate

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I really enjoyed the game play of Quantum Break and after a while I'd get into a pretty satisfying flow. That the first trailer I've seen for Control and damn it looks crazy.

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nutter

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@theslipgate: Quantum Break was cool. While Alan Wake is my favorite Remedy game, I have yet to play a Remedy game that I haven’t really, really enjoyed. I hope to see Control follow that trend.

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Humanity

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I loved the Max Payne games but did not really like Alan Wake all that much as I found it a little too gimmicky for the most part. Quantum Break I've never played but it always looked interesting.

Control looks really intriguing for a variety of reasons.

The supernatural aspect is a cool twist on the genre. What would typically be a run of the mill corridor shooter is now this weirdly abstract, shifting world that has the potential to keep things fresh.

Gunplay combined with powers is a plus, especially when the gunplay is solid and Remedy are typically very good about that. Special abilities are one of those things that always get me excited about games. For example Dishonored was already an amazing stealth game but the inclusion of special abilities that helped weave a delightful power fantasy into the core gameplay elevated it from a really good experience to an awesome one - hopefully the powers in Control will similarly augment the gameplay.

Apparently the design of how you approach your objectives isn't as rigid as previous Remedy games. You get to explore the world in some free-form approach but I'm not quite sure how it works. If this has Metroidvania like gatekeeping and areas to revisit once you unclock new unique abilities that would be really cool.

Lastly I'm always excited to play as a cool female protagonist since thats not a common occurrence in video games, and from what I saw the voice acting seems pretty solid.

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TheSlipgate

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@nutter Agreed mate.

I've never actually played Alan Wake, for some reason I skipped it. I loved Max Payne tho back in the day. What a game :)

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fauxical

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I have some huge high hopes for this game. I recently replayed (after much trouble getting the audio to work on modern Windows but thankfully fans made a patch) the original Max Payne and holy heck it does hold up incredibly well. I did love Alan Wake but never thought it was perfect nor did I try any of the DLC add-ons and if it's one thing Remedy does well in their games it's always presentation.

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glots

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Reviews are up, added them to the first post.

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Rahf

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#10  Edited By Rahf

For those of you that want Kojima aesthetics or style without the 'bullshit'. This seems to be somewhere around there.

I expect dreariness, a self-serving cast of characters that has absolutely no trust for anything but themselves, and some neat concepts. Also David Lynch.

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nutter

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I know fuck-all about this game (Remedy and some sort of telekinesis), and I love it. Glad to see it’s reviewing well and I hope I’ll agree.

I’ll probably download a copy as soon as I’m done with Yakuza Kiwami. With any luck, I’ll find time in the front half of September, as I’ll play next to nothing in the back half due to work.

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Rahf

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I'm seeing people calling this generic, and I'm a bit unsure where they're coming from?

Those of you that are getting less-than-positive vibes from this, what are your thoughts?

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csl316

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Alan Wake had an awesome atmosphere. Quantum Break had some of my favorite 3rd person combat. Looks like Control mixes the best of both so I'm all in.

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BonelessSpirit

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#14  Edited By BonelessSpirit

People are probably going to disagree with this, but I would like to see Remedy make a game with a much more open setting next time. I'm not saying to create an open world sandbox filled with side missions or anything like that, just something that is not so linear. I don't know, from what I've seen of Control the level design seems boring despite the crazy happenings. And as someone who loved Max Payne 1 and 2 on PC back when I was a teenager, I don't think those games have held up all that well. I think Alan Wake is their most substantial work to date, but even that game is very flawed.

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liquiddragon

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@bonelessspirit: This is supposed to be their most open, most non-linear game they've ever made. It's a Metroidvania.

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BonelessSpirit

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#16  Edited By BonelessSpirit

@liquiddragon: Oh, I should have looked more into it. From the gameplay videos I saw, it looked much more constrained like their previous titles.

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FLStyle

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#17  Edited By FLStyle

According to the Quick Look it plays poorly on launch PS4s so I'll wait to hear on patches.

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Nodima

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Load times aren’t quite as rough as pre-patch Bloodborne, but considering how quickly you can go down when things go bad it can easily remind you of that tremendous icky feeling of waiting around reading tool tips.

World building and styyyyyle so far are pretty good and weird though, and I’ve maintained a proponent of 30fps over 60 similar to some snobbish filmmakers that argue movies only feel like movies at 24fps so in a similar vein the massive frame rate chugs from some particularly juicy projectile explosions feels bad, but ultimately it’s hard not to be impressed and thrilled by the tech at play here and overlook minor issues like that. At least if you’ve never owned a gaming PC, Control feels like a pretty natural PC powerhouse on a console experience on a base PS4.

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NexivSelecaf

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#19  Edited By NexivSelecaf

If I noticed more paople saying metroidvania in the same vein as this game, then I probably would have kept my code when I bought a new GPU last month.

...But then again, Epic Game Store, and I was never on a Remedy hype train, so... I can wait a year, unless The Outer Worlds is exceptional enough for me to set aside my concerns about the platform.

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hace1977

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Have anybody been able to download it on Epic Game Store? bought i last night (in sweden) but arent able to start my download...

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glots

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#21  Edited By glots

@hace1977: It should unlock in three hours, as I found out this morning. Could’ve used a timer on the store itself, but eh, I wouldn’t have been able to play until after work anyway.

-

If someone has a problem giving Epic money, but might consider installing the launcher, you can buy Control through the Humble store as well and just register the game on the Epic Launcher.

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BrunoTheThird

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#22  Edited By BrunoTheThird

Damn, £47.99. Metro Exodus £49.99, Sekiro £47.99.

I don't remember PC games being so pricey in the UK; guess I won't be playing any of these 'til some sales. 44.99 is the most I'll pay day of release, personally, even when the games look as great as these do.

Edit: Oh, meant to say how happy I am that Remedy seems to have a cool new game again. Even if their games have not quite ended up where I wanted them to sometimes, they're still a favourite studio of mine. Good for them.

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Syndrom

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Nodima

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OK, now I'm several hours in, essentially where Alex is at in the Quick Look it seems like (I've only just started watching as I take a break to write down some thoughts). Control is a cool game and it has a lot going for it...with some pretty substantial flaws that people who are still waiting for opinions on the game will probably want to know about.

Pros:

  • When the momentum is at its height, the stylistic choices, cinematography and mysterious vibe can be intoxicating. Alex describes the item that provides your Launch power as a haunted floppy disc containing Russian nuclear launch codes and that's exactly what it is, but the rat-tat-tat journey you go on from The Board to The Hotline to collecting the floppy is pure sugar for absurdists and sci-fi mongers.
  • The flair on this game is incredible, from its treatments when you first enter a new area to the lighting and effects that pop off of killed enemies. Rather than blood spray, an Annihilation like prismatic effect bursts from downed enemies and it never gets old. The whole vibe of The Board (and getting Max Payne's VO to perform the Hotline bits) is utterly, perfectly nonsense but endlessly cool.
  • The physics are wild and grabbing things and launching them remains a highly underutilized video game mechanic. It's hard not to be in awe of what this game is going for at times, and that's on a baseline PS4; I'm sure the lighting, color palette, physics, everything hits a whole other level on proper PCs or even the revisions.
  • The environment is wonderfully interactive; another reference to the Quick Look, where Alex shot the projector and the extinguisher. Those item effects do fire off all the time, even if they get hit with another object, which leads to a lot of fun, almost Just Cause-like chaos when you least expect it. Fun fact: you can also pick the projector up to launch it, and instead cast the video its playing all over the place.
  • Awesome, awesome headphone experience. In some ways the sound design has been the best part of the game so far, or at least the most consistent.

Cons:

  • While the physics are really cool, The Director doesn't move all that dissimilarly from Mass Effect: Andromeda's avatar, which will take some getting used to if you haven't experienced that odd blend of floaty and snappy. This means she gets caught on the environment a lot, and is both very mobile and weirdly hesitant almost simultaneously. I imagine for some people this game will straight up Feel Bad To Play.
  • As the game opens up into what it really is, an exploration game with combat elements, the plot loses momentum and some of the more novel things about the game lose just a little bit of their charm. It's one thing when you're spiraling... out of control in an info dump alongside Faber, it's another when you get lost on side quests for two hours, randomly stumble into a new mission giver and have to struggle to remember what the whole lot of nothing the characters are talking about might could mean another few hours later.
  • The map is bad. I've been getting New Colossus or DOOM 2016 levels of lost in these environments, but unlike those maps mostly getting convoluted when you started chasing collectibles and trophies, Control is just not clear how you get from one room to another in situations where the two appear right next to each other. They let you run around with the map up (it's actually the only way to view it) and it's a generous touch, unfortunately the map is just a real pain to read (and can't be zoomed at all).
  • To that end, the brutalist architecture is definitely a v i b e but it also means you'll inevitably wind up running in circles more than you'd like if you stray from the main plot out of a completionist's impulse rather than a natural progression of your play. The game seems pretty good about finding reasons for the player to come across most of its content naturally, so it's a real shock whenever you spend twenty minutes looking for something specific and come away totally baffled.

All in all, Control feels like exactly the sort of game you'd expect at this point in the PS4 generation's life cycle. It has a couple massive gimmicks that it pulls off better than anyone to date has, it looks top of the line (character design and animation sometimes excluded) and it contains just about every marque feature of the past generation - and yet even there it's got surprises. You've got minor RPG elements like a skill tree, equipment mods, follow-up questions in cutscenes, bonfires, a return to somewhat harsh death mechanics. But it also doesn't have a cover system, or health that regenerates out of the red if you take a breather, or any way to indicate you're about to fire an explosive canister into the beam directly behind you rather than the enemy 20 yards away.

In other words, like Alex said at the start of the quick look, it's a B-ass B game. What it really has going for it, it has going for it to a tremendous degree, but the same is very nearly true for the things that hold it back. Like I said in a previous post, I'm fine with slow down, but for those who aren't, once you've got a couple powers and your enemies have a couple countermeasures you can routinely expect the framerate to dip into the low teens if not worse when the physics and effects really get popping off. To me it suits the mystical, fragmented vibe of the game, but if that nauseates you, know that this game both controls above average at best and performs below average at best most of the time. If you can get past that, Control seems like a pretty good bet for at least one of 2019's most notable games, if not the classic it hints at on paper. If you can't? Well, that's most of the game part of the game on PS4 (and I imagine XBO), moderately finnicky controls and superlatively finnicky performance.

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Casepb

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@nodima: "The Director doesn't move all that dissimilarly from Mass Effect: Andromeda's avatar"

I noticed quite a few of the NPCs have that ME: Andromeda dead eye look. It's like someone just forgot to animate the eyes.

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Brackstone

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@nodima: If I might ask a specific question, what's the enemy and combat scenario variety like? One of the main reasons I never got into Alan Wake was that the gameplay, while good, never felt like it evolved and eventually it just felt like busy work, and that game has so, so much combat. That's the main reason I'm hesitating on this.

Your negative about it being an exploration game with combat elements actually sounds like it could be a positive for me.

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ghost_cat

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The first thing that grabbed me in the QL was how freakin' awesome the sound design and mixing was for Control. And that was all from a YT video! Can't wait to hear more from this game.

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Nodima

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@nodima: If I might ask a specific question, what's the enemy and combat scenario variety like? One of the main reasons I never got into Alan Wake was that the gameplay, while good, never felt like it evolved and eventually it just felt like busy work, and that game has so, so much combat. That's the main reason I'm hesitating on this.

Your negative about it being an exploration game with combat elements actually sounds like it could be a positive for me.

The combat design is very inFamous: Second Son in that some enemies are vulnerable to certain kinds of attacks, but not so much that you need to spec one way or another. I focused on upgrading my Launch pretty much exclusively and I can't say I've had much need for one of the other abilities at all nor had time to even consider the third ability since every Launch is a one-shot at this point. There's far less variety than inFamous too since you just have the one suite of abilities, and it's a little less fluid; like I said, it thuds around like ME: Andromeda did more than a little.

But I will say after eight-ish hours I'm still seeing new enemies and still seeing them configured in new ways, and as the impacts of my Launch have hit max, I've been able to launch enemy bodies and larger items like fully loaded exploding dumpsters while enemies are also starting to tote rockets and grenades almost all the time so the thing is a huge fucking mess of spectacle and particle effects and physics (I'm pretty sure this past hour I put in at the start of Mission 6 ran at a steady 15FPS...) and it's been a real riot.

To clarify that exploration/combat point a bit, there's more combat than there is exploring, but the exploring is the unique part and the combat, while a little unforgiving on the damage end, is easy enough to stomp on through and have some good natured fun because it's bombastic enough to make that good. There's some genuine Tomb Raider kind of qualities to this game, but the load times and death penalties (both of which, like early Bloodborne, whip you all the way back to your last contact point and take over a minute to recover from) discourage you from getting too cute with traversal making me always worry I'm missing something silly (there's something so silly in this game I'm surprised it didn't come out of Japan or IO Interactive).

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Syndrom

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i fucking love this game, holy shit. Sure the gameplay isn't that great (it's perfectly fine, just nothing new) but holy shit does this game has a cool vibe and style. It's like X-files / stranger things / fringe all smashed togheter.

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Efesell

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This game has the most aggressive motion blur I've seen since Final Fantasy Type-0.

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Drachmalius

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#31  Edited By Drachmalius

I just played for about two hours and am having a blast with it so far, the controls feel great but I'm on mouse + keyboard. Might be a bit clunkier on controller, idk. Love how brief the setup is and they just put you right into the shit. If it stays this good I'll be very happy.

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Milkman

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If my options for this game are base PS4 or base Xbox One, which is the better option? I've heard people say the performance on PS4 is bad but really nothing about the Xbox. Is it the same deal there? Should I just wait until it gets patched? Am I going to have to ask this question about every game until the new systems are out?

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jacksmedulla

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@drachmalius: Mind sharing your specs, if you're playing on pc?

I'm still rocking a 970 and i5-2500k, and from what I've seen, I should be able to play it just fine on medium settings. I'd appreciate some insight from other people's rigs, though.

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Humanity

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I've put a few hours into this today - it's one of those games that kind of keep you wanting to see whats around the corner - and so far I'm having a pretty fun time. I agree with @nodima up there that the character sluggishness is a little odd. I was expecting for this to be a very pin-point precision type of game when in reality both shooting and movement all has this very floaty quality to it. At this point I'm still unlocking new things so the game is leading me by the nose quite a bit, which has been really interesting.

The amount of info you get through collectibles is kind of overwhelming. I typically have a real aversion to stopping everything so I can read a page of text. This has been a pet peeve of mine in some of my favorite games like Dishonored. Honestly I prefer an old fashioned audio log that at least lets me move around. That said I am making an effort to read everything I find in Control because a lot of it is pulling back the curtain in the smallest of ways. Some of it very strong supplements the action at hand. Early on you visit a motel that is explained through two various collectibles but if you don't read them then it's just a crazy place.

Speaking of audio logs.. I understand the artistic decision for the Hotline videos.. but you are sort of stuck there watching the same canned silhouette footage time and time again. In this specific case it's even worse than simple text collectibles because at least those you can read quickly or even skim if it's something of lesser improtance but these force you to sit and just watch Max Payne (the Director is played by the original voice actor for Max) monologue at you for 2 minutes. It's form over function in a bad way.

Lastly - I'm playing this on PC. My current setup is pretty good.. or so I thought. This game is really giving my system a workout. I just checked and Nvidia has new drivers out so maybe that might change things but I wasn't prepared to have to fiddle with options this much. With a 1080, an i7 and plenty of quality ram the GeForce experience is recommending I set everything to Low. At 2k resolution I've initially set everything to high apart from the RTX Raytracing stuff which my card can't handle and it ran O-K like an uncapped 30FPS with weird hitches in combat. After I bumped some occlusion and shadow/reflection stuff down to Medium the game started running at a higher and more consistent framerate but still not perfect. What is weird is that design wise it's spectacular but in terms of detail it's not that great. Characters especially look kind of waxy - especially compared to DMC5 which I recently fired up for the first time on my XB1X. I dunno maybe I'll bump it down to 1920 resolution or something or maybe the new drivers will smooth things out but it's been surprising and somewhat sobering to see my PC start to slide into technological obsolescence once again, although I really am convinced that it's just weirdly optimized cause without RTX on it really is not that pretty.

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Barrock

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Anyone else on a 970 play it? If so, how did it run? i5 8600K as well.

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jacksmedulla

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@barrock: I just tried it on my rig (970 and i5 2500k), and I was getting some pretty consistent hitching at medium settings. I put in for a refund, as I think I may try to get a 2060 super with the wolfenstein control bundle.

The hitching could be more due to my processor, but I'd be wary with your card.

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Drachmalius

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@jacksmedulla: Sure I'm on a 1080 with an AMD fx-8320, runs fine on medium settings at 1440p. There is some hitching but it's barely noticeable to me.

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haneybd87

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#38  Edited By haneybd87

@efesell: Yeah the motion blur is reeaaally bad. I was feeling motion sickness after a while and when my play session was over my eyes felt messed up. I don’t understand why devs are always using motion blur or at least not offering an option to turn it off. I’ve never once seen someone say “Wow! This motion blur looks great!” but instead all I ever see are things like “This messes with my eyes.” or “It makes me motion sick.”

Anyways my other gripes with this game have to be the map and the heavy bass hit every time you open the menu. This is another thing that drives me nuts in games. It feels harsh and really grates after a while. It’s totally unnecessary, you’re just opening the menu.

All that said I really, really like the story, ambience, art design, level design, etc. so far. It really is bizarre and feels like Alan Wake on crack.

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TheHT

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For whatever reason (never put much thought into it) Quantum Break just never appealed to me. Loved Max Payne 1 and 2, and absolutely adore Alan Wake + American Nightmare.

Control gets me excited the way those other Remedy games get me excited. Lookin forward to spending a weekend just completely submerging myself in this.

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SethMode

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This game is really dope so far. That is all.

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chaser324

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#41 chaser324  Moderator

I've only played about an hour thus far, but I concur with the general sentiment that this game is very bad ass. Definitely a best style candidate for GotY - everything with the visual and audio design comes together so well.

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glots

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Played for a couple of hours yesterday, seemed preeeeetty good! Outside of playing the game myself, it has been pretty fun to check non-finnish people reacting to Ahti’s dialogue.

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SethMode

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@glots: I didn't watch the QL or read the comments until after I was into it quite a ways and I definitely had a very a American reaction to Ahti like "what is this gibberish language!?"

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NTM

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#44  Edited By NTM

I have to say, I don't know how many hours into this I am, but it is pretty far into it (as in, just about an hour or two of playtime before now) and the game only just got really interesting. That said, it's in large part due to what seemingly answers questions and connects this to Alan Wake. It makes me more focused on it for sure. You can kind of assume Remedy would pull some tricks, but now it feels like it's a part of it rather than some funny easter eggs and similarities although the vibe only comes from a handful of collectibles you gather, but it's enough. To be frank, I haven't really been enjoying it all that much for the majority of the time I've put into it. It's fine, but arguably it was being my second least favorite game I've played this year. Kind of sad really since at this point, hours late into the game, I want to keep going with it but have to do other things today.

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SethMode

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@ntm: lol "second least favorite game I've played this year" is a hilariously overly wordy way of saying "I'm not liking this game". Not trying to bust on you or anything, it just made me laugh.

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glots

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Played a bunch more and flicked RTX off. The game looks fantastic with it and runs decently on my PC, but there was enough random hitches occuring that I'll rather wait for a patch/new drivers to see if those fix it.

Luckily the game still looks real nice even without it and it feels really, really good to have a buttery-smooth framerate while obliterating everything around you and filling your surroundings with debris. It's like I'm playing F.E.AR. again, except turned up to 11.

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charlie_victor_bravo

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@glots said:

Played a bunch more and flicked RTX off. The game looks fantastic with it and runs decently on my PC, but there was enough random hitches occuring that I'll rather wait for a patch/new drivers to see if those fix it.

Luckily the game still looks real nice even without it and it feels really, really good to have a buttery-smooth framerate while obliterating everything around you and filling your surroundings with debris. It's like I'm playing F.E.AR. again, except turned up to 11.

I took some comparison shots and uploaded them on the wiki.

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However I had to scarp some of them because I was unable to tell afterwards if they were on or off images.

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conmulligan

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Anyone know how long this is? I'm looking for another game to play but don't want something that requires a huge time investment.

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Nodima

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#49  Edited By Nodima

@conmulligan: I’m in chapter 7 or 8 right now after playing almost non stop and doing all side quests since 11pm Monday night (randomly had Tuesday off). Trophies make it clear there’s probably 10 chapters, so I’d say once the world opens up you’ve got about two hours a chapter which feels about right. Kotaku’s review said they played about 22 hours and did most of the side stuff, which again is probably meatier/longer than most of the campaign.

It’s a meaty enough game and a lot of the real mind bendy stuff is hidden in otherwise mundane sounding activities so it definitely encourages exploration and going off the beaten path both missions and just curiosity wise.

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briarpack

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@nodima: @conmulligan: I finished it just now and yeah, it took me probably around 20 hours. I did every "scripted" side mission (Bureau alerts seem procedurally generated) and read/watched every piece of lore I found, so you can probably mainline this in 10 hours.

The more I played the more I liked this game.

Like Ben said on the podcast, in the early game the combat is a bit clunky and slow, but gets fast paced and fun once you have more abilities (specifically the last one).
At the beginning of the game guns seemed like the main damage dealer while abilities were the stuff you do while your ammo is recharging, but that flipped pretty quick.
Pierce seemed like the only weapon that could hold a candle to telekinesis through most of the game, but I barely invested in mods or weapon upgrades. I think I'll run around in post game and finally properly test these guns.

I liked the story, too. It wasn't nearly as convoluted as I feared it might be, and when it was all said and done they didn't infuriatingly obfuscate important story details in favor of seeming mysterious. Though there are a few interesting details you can dig around for and theorize about. And yup, the connections to Alan Wake are super cool, also Ahti (and how he might relate to some characters from Alan Wake). And the puzzles were pretty good, especially the optional ones. They're not very mechanical and often require you to read lore or find clues in the enviroment.

The last couple of missions have some very good moments and one specific one that I hope gets mentioned on the site. If not close to release, then at least during GOTY.