Interview Control /w Vida Starčević

One of the most exciting games we saw at Gamescom had to be Control, even though we didn’t get our hands on a pad.

We saw a 20 minute demonstration which overviewed the main character Jesse, her ritualistic abilities, the puzzle-solving nature of the game, the ability to walk away from side quests and replay them later, and best of all, floating.

We also got to sit down with the Assistant Community Manager at Remedy, Vida Starčević, to ask her some questions about the game, her time at Remedy, and what players can expect from Control. 

Among other things, she talked about the ‘New Weird’ focus of Control, the moment when the game was announced at E3, and whether there will be a multiplayer component in the game…

Control was just announced at E3 so I imagine this still feels quite fresh, what’s the reaction been like since the announcement?

It’s been amazing. It’s been so difficult to keep this a secret what with leaks and everything. We were so proud of ourselves for keeping it a secret until the Sony Briefing. We didn’t know when it was going to show up in the briefing and we didn’t want to know as all of us wanted to be surprised.

Some of us were at the briefing and some of us were watching a live stream at the hotel – there were like 10 of us – and when the Control logo came up, people were clapping. And then when the Remedy logo appeared, everyone started yelling. And we started yelling and it was amazing.

So the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. I don’t want to say it’s been surprising, but the overwhelming positivity has been very surprising. People are very happy to see a new Remedy game and they’re very interested to see something different.

Admittedly, when I first saw Control my mind went to Quantum Break. But having watched this presentation now, I can see the games are very different. The powers are so different, the movement, the flow of the game. How do you view it at Remedy? Do you see it as a spiritual successor? An entirely new project?

Thank you. It’s an entirely new project, a brand new IP. I would leave the connections up to the fans, but it is a completely seperate project and it’s very different from Quantum Break, both in the way the powers are and how they’re used. There’s no time travel, there’s no time powers in Control, it’s all based on telekenesis and moving stuff with your mind and interacting with the environment in that way.

I can see how people can compare Control to Quantum Break because visually it is still the same engine and we do have a certain kind of Remedy aesthetic. But Quantum Break is more modern and a very big visual inspiration for Control has been the brutalist style in architecture and design. As you saw in the demo, the hard lines, very geometric shapes and stuff like that.

We saw Jesse recite some form of incantation during the demonstration and that sort of reminded me of old Remedy, specifically the Lupino level in Max Payne 1 which explored the Occult. What sort of impact do rituals have on the gameplay or are they mostly there for narrative purposes?

Rituals are part of the gameplay. As shown in the demo, you have Jesse going through that wall pulling the switch four times, and then ending up in the hotel, picking up the key, saying a few words and pulling the switch again, that’s an example of a ritual. And they are going to be in the game and part of the gameplay.

How is that going to work? That’s something I can’t be very specific about because we’re still working on and developing it.

Remedy have gone on record to say that this is part of a ‘New Weird’ Genre. It’s an interesting storytelling device because plots may not necessarily make sense and can be left open to interpretation. What’s your view on that form of storytelling in games? Is that the most effective way for modern games to tell a story now?

One of our main inspirations for Control has been Annihilation and the Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer.

Let me be clear, though, the story definitely makes sense, there is a beginning, a middle and probably an end. But the thing with New Weird is that, other than taking familiar tropes from Sci-Fi and Fantasy and Horror and twisting them around to give you something completely unexpected and bizarre, is that it leaves a lot of unanswered questions. And it lets you kind of fill in the gaps, interpret what you see and what you’re experiencing in your own way so there is going to be elements of that in Control. We are not going to hold your hand, neither through gameplay or narratively, we are not going to spell everything out for you. The mystery plays a big, big part.

Considering that, would the player require multiple playthroughs to get everything out of the game? As you mentioned in the demo every door to a different room has a mystery behind it and players could miss a lot of that by just playing the story. Whereas if a player went into those rooms, they may get more context than someone who hasn’t?

Well, it isn’t an open-ended experience, it is a sandbox style game. But once you play through the main mission, there are side missions. But you don’t have to do the side missions in order, like you can say ‘sorry, I have to go and do something else’ and then return to that. I personally play it in the way I do all the side missions and then the main quest.

But once you’re done with the main mission, I mean, Jesse is the still the director of the Bureau, she still has work to do. So, I’m not sure if it would take multiple playthroughs – I’m thinking probably, maybe – but I can’t give an official answer to that because, again, it’s a work in progress.

But yeah, there’s a lot of mystery in there because the house is something that’s been around for a very long time. Nobody is quite sure how long it’s been there so there’s definitely going to be a lot of stuff to uncover in there.

Two final questions. We’ve heard Control is going to have a multiplayer element to it…

That’s not happening. Control is a singleplayer only experience.

Oh, ok, as I was going to ask if that ties into narrative.

No, no.

Linking onto that, do you see Control as a self-contained experience? Would there be post-launch content, DLC?

It’s too early to talk about that. We want to finish Control and then think about the future.

Thank you so much for your time.

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