At E3 2018 one of the biggest surprises to come out of Sony’s E3 presentation was the trailer and announcement of Remedy Entertainment’s next game, Control. From the trailer we saw that the game’s character, Jesse Faden, had some sort of telekinesis power, so we can expect Remedy’s signature storytelling and otherworldly powers to be ever present. But what have they learned from the past?
During the event, n3rdabl3’s Gage Edwards caught up with Remedy’s Narrative Lead Anna Megill to discuss what exactly we can expect from the game. Previously known as P7, we had little idea what to expect from Remedy with their next game. What we do know, from the trailer and press releases is that it’s a third-person action-adventure which combines supernatural abilities with Remedy’s trademark gun play.
We asked Megill what it was like seeing the game she’d been working on for so long to finally be unveiled during Sony’s conference, sandwiched between some other massive games coming to PS4. As you might have expect, she was somewhat relieved:
“It was amazing,” she said. “We’ve been keeping it a secret for so long and obviously the announcement itself was secret too. We were here in LA and I couldn’t even tell anyone I was here, and we were so afraid that there would be a leak because there were all of those leaks heading up to E3 so it was really gratifying that we were able to keep it so secret and to have that huge reveal and to see people’s raw honest reaction to the trailer, and that was wonderful. It’s great to be able to talk about it, finally! We can call it something besides P7 now, which is great!
“the idea of The Oldest House was born and from that the rest of the story just evolved”
While the game itself has only been in development for a few years, the idea behind Control has actually been in the works for some time deep in the mind of Creative Director Sam Lake, Megill told us.
“This was Sam’s inspiration originally, Sam, our Creative Director, and he’s talked about how while he was working on some of the other games, like he got the germs of this idea all along, especially on Alan Wake and Quantum Break. There were just some ideas that didn’t really fit in to either of those games, so he thought maybe one day he could turn this into something, and so it’s been sort of working in his head for years, and finally when we came out with Quantum Break and we were thinking about our next project, he now thought ‘now’s the time to turn this into something’. So the idea of The Oldest House was born and from that the rest of the story just evolved.”
Remedy’s writing team have taken influence from a number of literary work in the past, as well as other media like horror movies, science fiction, and more. Hell, they even made their own TV show with Quantum Break. Ultimately however, they take these ideas and give them the Remedy treatment, and for Control that’s no different.
“[For Control, we take inspiration] from New Weird, have you seen the movie Annihilation? So I think that is what most people think of when they think of New Weird, as a literary genre, so more like the books than the movies. It has really been an inspiration for us, and what it does is take elements from these very familiar genres like horror and science fiction and speculative fiction and it twists them into something very new and unexpected and strange. It leaves you with this sort of ‘what the fuck’ feeling, asking a lot of questions, like raising mysteries in your mind and that’s what our game is about, it’s about mystery. It’s not holding the players’ hand it’s letting them piece together the story on their own, and solve these mysteries on their own, leaving them with that feeling of awe and wonder that they’ve seen something extraordinary and that’s what we’re going for in this game.”
One thing that’s incredibly interesting about Remedy, we found out, was that the writers room seemed like a more open environment where any and all ideas are welcomed. Creativity is a big part of writing a Remedy game with only a few road blocks stopping some really wild ideas from becoming a reality.
“Creativity is really encouraged at Remedy, particularly in the writing room. Any ideas welcome, we throw it out there, we figure out if it’s going to fit into our game or not, but yeah, I mean, our whole idea is to let go creatively, and let this be as wild as we need it to be.
“There are some things that tonally don’t fit our game, or we feel like ‘oh maybe that’s been done before’ but that’s really our only limits on this. Of course there are tech limits like, ‘that would be super cool but I don’t know if we could pull that off’ but those are our only limitations, everything else is like, ‘how can we make this work, that is an amazing idea, is if even possible? Let’s figure out how.'”
Remedy, over the years, have managed to achieve this unique style to all of its games, and even with Quantum Break, despite being a hugely different game to past titles like Alan Wake, there were still aspects which were familiar to fans of Remedy’s games.
One of the things Gage wondered was how Control will differ from Quantum Break and even Alan Wake. Looking at the trailer for Control you can see many similarities, but how exactly would this game differ and become unique despite its similarities, visually. Fortunately these comparisons will begin and end with the visuals, largely in part to the Northlite Engine. From there however, players can expect a completely different experience.
“we’re not going to have a tie-in live TV show with this one”
“I think the main reason people see a similarity to Quantum Break is visually, and that’s because it uses our proprietary Northlight Engine and it has a very similar look, and obviously there are some visual elements, and everyone’s like ‘oh, that’s obviously Quantum Break’ but it’s a completely different game. First of all Jessie does not have time bending powers in any way, they are telekinetic and they are mostly ways of manipulating the reactive environments in our game.
“What lessons did we learn? We listened to the fans and their feedback and I think, for example, we’re not going to have a tie-in live TV show with this one, there will be fewer cinematics, it won’t be as cinematic driven as it is gameplay driven this time around.
“Remedy is about pushing the envelope we’re always trying to do something new with every game we push out, and Control is no different. We’re doing some sort of innovation narratively. So while we will have a lot of environmental story telling, we will have side missions, we’ll have a lot of exploration-based narrative. We’re also going to be doing some fun things with cinematics we haven’t done in the past so we’re going to use them a little more judiciously and creatively we have in previous games.”
You read that right, Control won’t have time bending powers, at least, Jesse won’t have them.
“I think everyone coming out of Quantum Break was okay,” Megill laughed. “I have a sign on the wall by my desk that says ‘No Time Travel’ so we just point at it periodically to remind people. There were so many other really cool and fun things we could do with this game and it was time to explore those. So yeah, I don’t think, y’know… Jessie’s powers are pretty damn cool even without time bending.”
Speaking of gameplay mechanics, in the trailer we saw that Jesse not only had some incredibly telekinetic powers, but also a gun. This means that Remedy’s signature gunplay will return, but how will these supernatural powers play into the game? It seems as if the developers are still working on balancing the use of both weapons and supernatural powers, but the idea is to be able to make the most of both as a single ubiquitous unit.
“We do want the gameplay to require both elements, they should work in tandem, and it shouldn’t be like ‘you can just shoot your way through this game’, and of course there’s a lot of balancing that needs to be done in the game, this is very early in development for us, but we are trying to think of ways she would have to fight that would require you to use both of them, I don’t know how they’re going to do that yet, that’s probably a question for a non-narrative person, but I know that there are plans for it, like she has a shield she can use now and having a shield and be able to be mobile and be behind cover as you go and still shoot, is a very valuable way to fight, I think, especially with some of these very tricky enemies that we have in the game.”
Speaking of the enemies, in the trailer we got a glimpse at some of the foes Jesse will be facing-off in Control that almost look like vampires. Megill explained that the enemy, The Hiss, are an enemy which are almost invisible as they take control of federal agents without any real evidence other than a shimmer which comes off each of them.
“The Hiss are this otherworldly force. That sort of shimmer that you saw coming off the enemy, that is the actual Hiss, and what it does is invade and corrupt humans, so you’re seeing federal agents who have been corrupted to various levels by The Hiss so they take on different aspects. So you’ll see the corrupted agents, you saw the Drifters, and then the big guy at the end, that’s called a Temptest. They’re all The Hiss, just different.”
“as we start introducing the cast I think people will see some familiar faces”
For those who have played Quantum Break will realise that the show has some top talent involved and it looks like Control will be no different. For starters Courtney Hope who played Beth Wilder in Quantum Break will be returning in the game’s lead role, and there’s more to come, however Megill was a little reluctant to spill the beans on who, but we can expect some familiar faces.
“We are bringing back Courtney Hope who was Beth Wilder in Quantum Break who is playing our lead character Jessie Faden, so I think she’s a top celebrity, in my book she is! But yeah, as we start introducing the cast I think people will see some familiar faces, let’s put it that way.”
Ultimately, Remedy want this to be a game which keeps players absorbed, with enough mystery and intrigue to keep them wanting to go on forever, and so far we’d say they’re achieving something close to that, at least at this point. With so many questions, I’m sure we’ll have answers as we learn more about the game.
“I think that this game is going to be the best of gameplay driven narrative, as I guess how I would put it… ‘explorability’,” Megill concluded. “We want people to be so pulled along by the mysteries of The House, and by how engaging the story is, and just by how cool everything is, that they just want to keep going forever. The combat will be fun, the story will be amazing, and hopefully that’ll be enough to keep people engaged.”
Control is set to launch some time in 2019.