Well, we finally know what Remedy Entertainment’s P7 is all about. P7 was revealed to be CONTROL, a third-person action game that comes with that unique supernatural personality you’ll only ever really see from Remedy. We fired a few questions over to game director, Mikael Kasurinen, to find out more.
Xt: So, P7 has at last been revealed to be CONTROL. I have to commend you for keeping a tight lid on it for so long. It seems that everything gets leaked nowadays. Can you share with our readers what CONTROL is all about?
MK: Thanks, it was important to us that the reveal of this new world is an impactful event, and having a sense of secrecy was a huge part of that. And as it happens, it connects directly with what the central theme in CONTROL is all about.
First off, CONTROL is a 3rd person supernatural action adventure game with an open-ended structure, you can explore, complete missions and grow stronger, and through that learn more about the world. The game focuses on a mysterious place which we call the Oldest House. From the outside it looks like your average New York City skyscraper, but in the inside, there is a world that is bigger, complex and strange.
Within the Oldest House resides an organization called the Federal Bureau of Control (or FBC) which is a secretive US government agency. The Bureau focuses on researching and containing strange phenomenon, but something has gone wrong, and a strange devastating force has invaded the place and taken over, corrupted and transformed everything against you, including the very environment and humans as well.
You assume the role of Jesse Faden, an outsider with a mysterious past, who enters the building just as all of this is happening. After a number of events she becomes the Director of this Bureau, and strange powerful abilities start to unlock within her. With these powers she needs to fight back and regain control of the Oldest House.
Xt: You describe CONTROL as a single-player action game that comes with story, mystery and that trademark Remedy weirdness. How much of that Remedy weirdness can we expect to see?
MK: Creating compelling, strange worlds has always been our passion, and we wanted to create an experience that allows us to go all out. Many of the ideas expressed within CONTROL have been gestating for a while, and to us this is an opportunity to create an unprecedented experience that will stand out. An ultimate expression of what that Remedy weirdness is and can be.
Xt: There’s a lot of speculation lately that would suggest that single-player games are “dead” in the water. You’re proof that that couldn’t be further from the truth. What’s your stance on that ideology?
MK: I think looking at single-player and multiplayer games as if they are separate genres is not a fruitful approach. There will always be a demand for compelling and exciting experiences, no matter what the technology is that they’re based on. If the game comes across as exciting and unique, people will be interested. Having said that, I wouldn’t be surprised if multiplayer is sometimes seen as a way to hide the lack of an interesting world, which to me seems like a massive mistake in any game production.
What will always remain true for Remedy is that we will strive to create exceptional experiences and worlds, and we always look at it as a package where technology, art, story and design meet. In other words, I can see a Remedy game which retains our unique flavor and world-building but is actually a shared experience with friends. As long as we don’t feel like we are compromising our core values in the process.
It is great to see people embracing a multitude of amazing games which focus on compelling characters, interesting worlds and exciting gameplay, games with substance and boldness to be different. Many of these games happen to be single-player. This is a great environment to be in, and I’m glad people are ready for different experiences.
Xt: Some would argue that Quantum Break was heavier on its story than that of its gameplay. Though, CONTROL appears to have much more emphasis on its gameplay in comparison to Quantum Break, without sacrificing its in-depth plot. Would you agree?
MK: Yes, that is exactly our intent. A key goal with CONTROL was to provide a world which is larger than a single story, it is a place which you want to return to. And through that thinking we wanted to ensure that the gameplay is polished, has variation and is also dynamic enough to provide a sense of surprise.
The open-ended approach in the game structure pushed us to re-think how to tell stories, and that’s where most people will see a difference compared to our previous games. While the depth we are known for is still there, there is a more gameplay-driven way to access it. It does mean involving also a stronger participation by the player, they need to go the extra mile to get the full experience.
This effort can be seen in how we are making the world itself the story, and avoid passive moments where you feel like putting away the controller. The player is in control, and they should be the ones driving the experience.
Xt: What sort of powers will Jesse be able to utilize alongside her service weapon?
MK: It was important to us that the Service Weapon comes across as a powerful supernatural weapon, and we’re looking at it as almost as an ability in itself.
The other abilities focus on the idea of “control” in different forms, basically meaning controlling the environment to protect yourself, to attack, or to make you able to traverse through the environment in surprising ways. The idea is to keep it intuitive, tight and seamless.
Even though the basic premise seems simple, there are unexpected and exciting ways these abilities can affect the flow of the gameplay experience, and there’s still more things for us to show on what Jesse can do.
Xt: You’ve stated that CONTROL is a lot less linear than that of your previous games. Can you elaborate on that?
MK: On top of the main campaign there are other stories to be told as well. The main campaign focuses on Jesse’s path as the new director and the imminent crisis at hand. But there are other experiences to be had as well that take the shape of side missions, additional exploration and even other game modes that we’re not ready to talk about yet.
Xt: So, to be absolutely clear, CONTROL is not an open world game. It’s more of an open-ended game. With that firmly in mind, can players expect to see side-quests in addition to the main story missions?
MK: The overall approach is close to what is known as Metroidvania. The world you traverse has limitations that are removed as you progress through the experience. It also continuously provides opportunities for exploration and embarking upon missions that are not directly connected to the main narrative. It was important to us that the players feel like they can choose what to focus on at any given time.
Xt: Your press release gave off a very cryptic vibe when you stated that Jesse comes with a mysterious past that players will “maybe” get to discover. I’m going to put all of my chips on the table and guess that this will factor into how the game is played?
MK: We want to keep our cards close to the chest regarding Jesse. Having said that, mystery is a central theme in this game. The players will need to be ready to go the extra mile to be able to get all the pieces of information they can, and even that might not be enough to be able form a fully informed take.
Xt: CONTROL appears to house metroidvania elements, which by design, bolsters not only the longevity of a game, but its replay value too. The same can be said about the aforementioned side quests. Would you say that CONTROL, as a result, is your most ambitious project to date?
MK: Definitely. CONTROL is all about us as a studio exploring new ways of creating exciting and extraordinary experiences in a more player-driven way. Having said that, I think that many of the games we’ve created have included extensive and complicated world-building that often might have been unnecessary considering the linear and short nature of the experience. It always felt to me like a lost opportunity.
In one sense we now get to continue doing what we love to do anyway, but with a structure that allows us to bring that to the forefront of the experience.
Xt: Now that the cat is out of the bag, so to speak, how has the reception been for CONTROL?
MK: The reception has been beyond anything we expected. People are clearly excited to see a new Remedy game, and we’ve gotten a lot of love regarding the direction we’ve taken with it. It couldn’t have gone better.
Xt: I appreciate that it’s very early days. Though, are you able to say whether or not you’re aiming to support enhancements on the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro?
MK: We want to squeeze out as much as we can from all the platforms we are launching on. But it is still early for us to go into details regarding that.
Xt: Is there anything you would like to share with our followers?
MK: As always, there is some trepidation whenever you’re announcing a new game. You never know how people will take it, especially considering our long history.
And the response has been both amazing and humbling at the same time. It is great to see that people are ready for unique and different experiences, and there’s obviously a strong demand for carefully crafted, exceptional worlds. This is what keeps us going, it allows us to continue doing what we do, and it’s all thanks to our community and fans; so, I just want to say a big thank you to everyone supporting us and believing in what we do!
Thanks a heap for your time Mikael, we appreciate that massively. Readers, if CONTROL is up your street (it really should be) then be sure to follow the game on Twitter, or check out the official CONTROL website to learn more. CONTROL is without a firm release date, but we do know that it’s set to arrive in 2019 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.