A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Control is a third-person shooter for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PCs. Players use guns and special mental abilities to shoot human enemies, smack them, and throw things at them, resulting in some bloodshed that includes seeing them explode. This also has numerous disturbing images and sound effects, including distant muttering, pools and trails of blood, bodies hanging from ropes, and numerous people floating unnaturally in mid-air. The dialog frequently includes swearing as "s--t" and "f--k."
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What's it about?
In CONTROL, you're Jesse Faden, the new director of the Federal Bureau Of Control, which is like the FBI if it investigated the paranormal full-time. But on your first day of work, you find that your office and many of the people inside have been taken over by a mysterious force called The Hiss. Armed with a gun and some special mental abilities, you have to clear out The Hiss before it's too late. Players will have to use their skills, weapons, and acquired objects of power to gain new abilities. You've also got the ability to draw on a secret past that's driving you as much as your desire to do a good job. All of which will come in handy when you face off against possessed coworkers, some of whom can float and hit you with things from on high. Hopefully you'll be able to get to the bottom of what's going on before it gets too late.
Is it any good?
While mixing scares and shooting has worked well in other games, a myriad of issues makes this action adventure feel dated. In Control, you're the new director of the FBC (Federal Bureau of Control), a government agency tasked with investigating and weaponizing the paranormal. Except that on your first day, you find that a supernatural power called The Hiss has taken over your office and the people in it. Helping you save them, and your job, are your Service Weapon, a versatile pistol with multiple forms that regenerates ammo automatically, and some special mental abilities that include being able to toss chairs and other things at enemies.
While this might sound like it has the makings of solid scary shooter -- something similar to the Resident Evil or Evil Within games -- this comes up a bit short by being shallow and lackluster. Sure, being able to alternate between guns and powers makes the combat interesting, as does the multi-layered approach of the battlefields. While Jesse can crouch, she seems determined to stand upright whenever possible. She can also momentarily generate a shield, but the shield and crouch move are poor substitutes for taking cover like you do in other games. Similarly, your powers can be upgraded, but this is essentially limited to making the effect stronger instead of more versatile for environmental situations. This can actually highlight how shallow the powers can be, even if they're visually striking. Using your dash move, for instance, gets you out of harm's way, but dashing into someone does nothing. Couple that with the game's rather loose controls, unhelpful map and navigation systems, and distracting live action cutscenes, and you'll understand why Control feels like a relic from the days of the PlayStation 2 that's not horribly bad but not terrifyingly good either.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the impact of the violence in Control affected by the level of blood and gore shown in combat? Would the impact be intensified if there was more blood and gore shown?
Control has a lot of disturbing images and sound effects, but why do you think people like to be scared? Do you think strange effects and visuals makes this game more fun?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.