Control perfected weirdness with its SCP-style take on an agency built around studying paranormal activity. Developer Remedy ensured that its entire narrative package — from its soundtrack, story, setting, and lore — all came together to produce one of the most cohesive and bizarre worlds in the history of the medium. Control’s expansive lore and nature of its strange world makes it the perfect vehicle for more stories and that’s taken shape in THE FOUNDATION, its premier premium DLC. Rather than handing the newly minted director a boring bundle of paperwork, The Foundation gives Jesse a memorable inaugural assignment that makes for one kick-ass first day on the job.
Control Foundation DLC Review | Jesse, the earthbender
Like Jesse herself, your work during the main game (which you need to have completed first) should have prepared you for what The Foundation has in store both in its combat mechanics and method of storytelling. Fights still have the same satisfying kinetic tempo to them, encouraging players to play aggressively while intelligently managing their power meter and regenerating ammo. There’s even a new melee-focused enemy that further keeps you on your toes or off them, if you choose to levitate and get out of their turf. Since it is post-game content, it might take a bit to remember the intricacies of the mechanics, but it’s still Remedy’s best combat system once you get back into the flow.
The Foundation also has two new powers that let you destroy certain crystals or activate them as either platforms or hazardous spikes. Even though they’re rather situational and sadly aren’t usable outside of the new area, they still blend with the other abilities and are powerful tools for those paying attention to the crystal patches lying around. An enemy standing on a dormant crystal patch can be swiftly impaled while another running across a destructible bridge can plummet to its doom with a few well-placed shots. Out of combat, forming crystals also helps you reach new areas. It’s a multifaceted power that’s helpful during battles with the Hiss and platforming while also fitting with the cave-like aesthetic of the titular Foundation.
Control Foundation DLC Review | Spelunking in the otherworldly caves
That cohesive quality is arguably what Remedy does best as everything in The Foundation is a seamless continuation of the main game with all of the same high points, even having a “missing person” mystery as its inciting incident. Helen Marshall, Head of Operations at the Federal Bureau of Control, has gone into the underbelly of the Oldest House in order to investigate a potential crisis. But she’s disappeared into its dark depths, leaving you to find her and what she was trying to uncover.
While a solid central hook that gradually escalates and unfolds as you progress — something that single-player DLC often completely fails at — the game’s lore is still the undeniable star. Remedy’s knack for creating chilling yet beautiful environments is unparalleled and aided by the amount of environmental storytelling and suite of important collectibles that attract and reward your attention. Walking into an area is always immediately captivating because of the supernatural layout, superb lighting, or the unique maroon-centric color palette and is further enhanced once you learn more about it.
Those aspects and the nature of Control’s world inherently inspire you to think about each room and the collectibles do a stellar job of filling you in without spelling everything out. Audio logs and notes strewn everywhere provide bizarre and clever explanations of the universe around you along with bits of humor, small contained stories, and unnaturally normal bureaucracy but redact just enough to foster a healthy sense of curiosity. The core game did this too, but in maintaining the astonishingly high level of quality, The Foundation is able to emphatically add to the lore instead of splicing in a handful of filler tidbits.
Control Foundation DLC Review | Lights, camera, action
These additions range from small Altered Items to grander revelations about the Board and Oldest House itself and both are done splendidly with the same amount of aforementioned restraint. It dives ever so gingerly into the pre-Trench directors and some the mysterious bedrock supporting the Oldest House, giving you more than the main game did without divulging everything. There are even hints about the future of the series, be it the next episode or possibly something bigger, further feeding your curiosity with small, tantalizing morsels cooked up by the master worldbuilders at Remedy.
While it touches on a few Altered Items, the camera is the star of the show. Not only is it a fascinating item with a ton of associated collectibles that provide a proper buildup, its associated side quest is a wonder that’s on par with the mesmerizing Ashtray Maze. This is even in spite of its high difficulty, which is exacerbated by how far this objective is from the nearest checkpoint. There are more checkpoints buried within the caves beneath the Oldest House (possibly in response to the criticism leveled at the base game), but this mission demonstrates that the problem, while addressed, still hasn’t completely evaporated.
The Foundation doesn’t totally solve Control’s issues, like its checkpoints, because it is fundamentally more Control. But unlike some other story-based DLC add-ons, it maintains that same high level of quality throughout and builds upon the, well, foundation of the main game without feeling like a superfluous chapter in Jesse’s new life. By adding a couple more powers that slightly improve frenetic combat and having collectibles and a story that continually outweird themselves in inventive ways, Remedy has shown that Jesse is fit for the job of director and hopefully just getting started.
GameRevolution reviewed the Control Foundation DLC on PC with a copy provided by the publisher.