Like strapping joy onto your face. This is what VR is all about.
There's been a lot of "Sony's Mario" chat thrown around about this, and it's honestly hard to argue with that. But I've not had this kinda fun with a Mario game in some time. There's a real proper feeling of immersion. I kept pointing at stuff expecting my hand to come into view. Instinctually going to hold my breath as water rose up past my chin. It sounds ridiculous, but you truly get lost in there.
Just you and yer wee pal, exploring worlds, rescuing lost bots, punching enemies, headbutting footballs back at them. Using shuriken to solve puzzles, smashing a giant robot ape's teeth to bits. It's gold, and the kinda thing that feels like proof of what VR can be beyond the gimmick most folk assume.
This review contains spoilers
The premise of JETT is heartbreaking. Leaving your dying planet to follow an ancient promise of a better life for your civilisation beyond the stars. Entering a torpor chamber before even leaving the ground, and waking up 1000 years later in space. An unimaginable distance from home. Everyone you ever knew or cared about is long gone. Can you miss them? Can you comprehend that passage of time when it's only been maybe a week for you? JETT doesn't even attempt to touch on this.
Instead it's squared more on exploration and following the old story that gave your people the hope to make this journey, to survive. Cool, so I should be flying about terraforming or whatever. There's a slight element of this, but the control of your JETT, and the performance on PS5 makes this incredibly tedious. For every time I thought I'd be landing somewhere to get out and begin some kind of construction or take samples to figure out if a place is viable to settle down, I was instead met with scanning plants from the air, as the framerate hit sub 20, and the screen stuttered while I kept an eye on my JETT's engine to make sure it didn't overheat.
There is no fun in the flying mechanics. It's like being a bee on string. The illusion of freedom. I was never able to feel like a pilot. Like this was my job. It's so unwieldy and micromanaged that it's a chore, a chore which makes up the majority of the game. The initial flight on yer home world gives a sense of flowing effortlessly across the land in your JETT. A bird on the wind. But no, your engine is hot, so please follow the glowing things in order to not overheat. Explore this new world, but in these designated paths, unless you'd prefer to travel incredibly slowly with your engines on low. You're safe then. Isn't this fun? Don't you feel like an explorer accomplishing things? Quick, land here and get out, walk ten feet this way and have a chat. Don't worry, you can't walk anywhere else. Good, now get back in the ship and go here for another chat. We really are trailblazers. Allow us to wrench the camera away from you again to show you exactly how to do the thing you've done fifteen times before now. Wow, you did it! How did you know? You're incredible Mei!
The chat. Oh man, the chat. Going for a made up language is cute, but you've got to also emote in that language, and so much of the dialogue is stiff and grey. You get a bit of personality from a couple of the crew, but mostly everyone is like a robot. You might chalk that up to a lot of them being quite religious, with that being the main impetus for this trek, but I don't buy it.
I'm just so let down. I feel like the trailers presented a different game, a fun game I'd been hankering after for some time. I can't fault the music though. There are lovely tunes here. But I admit when it swelled and blared at the unbearably disappointing ending, and they expected a big emotional release from me, all I did was laugh.
This review contains spoilers
It took 10 hours for this game to properly click for me and make sense, and I think it was purely because the menus are a fucking mess like I haven't seen in a while.
I was getting some kind of sensory overload every time I had to browse them. It somehow looks so much more complicated than it actually is, and I'll never understand how this setup wasn't just the first prototype for a menu system. Also, still with the controller cursor for navigation? Come on.
The game is pretty fun when the loop (shut up) starts making sense, but the premise itself kinda reveals the whole thing to be much shallower than it initially appears. Treading the same few areas at different times of day and sometimes there's snow. Barely anything changing between these other than enemy placement and some doors being open/closed. It gets old fast.
You find documents and lore about the place, but all of it seems to hint to larger stuff that doesn't pay off. I fucked the ending of the game for myself because you've to approach someone at the end of a long bridge to have a chat, and I tapped R2 to draw my gun just in case, this is when I learned that drawing it this way also fires it, and I hit them right between the eyes. No chat for me. Just standing there now, expected to make a decision based on no info. Deflated, I picked one at random, and got a cutscene that I can't even glean whether it was a good or bad ending. So off to youtube I went to see what I missed, and wouldn't ya know it, I got the bad ending. They're both bad endings. Not that there is no good ending, it's just that what they consider to be good is also a bad ending. A shit ending. They fuck the game right up the wall at the end, pay nothing off, and roll credits on you.
You just get nothing here, man. A cowardly exit. Plenty of the middle of this thing is great fun when you've hit a good stride, but you can feel it start limping in the last third. It also doesn't help that on PS5 I was plagued with visual and menu bugs that often resulted in me having to quit out. I dunno. I've only played the Dishonored games, and Prey, but this is Arkane's weakest for me. Feels like I've wasted my time here, that includes typing all this out when I could have just written "cunt game" and went to bed.
Wild going back to this when you're no longer 8 years old with cheats on simply blowing shit to pieces and running people over, and trying to just play it properly.
You're expected to traverse the city pretty quickly most of the time, but the roads and traffic combined with the camera are so dogshit that it feels impossible to drive at decent speed for more than five seconds before slamming into other cars or near invisible geometry. There's so much less here than I seem to remember.
I'm a bit angry at how much time young me put into this. You could've been playing Klonoa, idiot.
At one point while playing this brilliant shit, I almost burst into tears because I got suddenly hit with a powerful memory of being 10 years old, on holiday in Gran Canaria. Playing a Game Boy Color I got from a dodgy shop for what must have been £30. A truly good and happy time in my life.
It wasn't even this I was playing back then. It was some 32-in-1 nonsense. But this smelly garlic man reached through time and brought joy from 22 years ago roaring back into me for just a moment. Thank you, you fat fuck.
Better than the base game by virtue of having a big baddie that you can't just shoot.
I enjoyed Alan Wake back in the day, and am a bit disappointed in how little we get from him here. It feels more Wake adjacent, which I understand because this is Control after all, and it's setting up Alan Wake 2, or possibly even a combo sequel for both games. But that kinda thing is considered a risk now, and we know the big companies don't really do those anymore.
It's fine. An ok wee epilogue.
Played through it again because I never got round to the DLC and had sold my PS4 copy. Grabbed the Ultimate Edition off PS+.
I enjoyed it before, and it's still decent, but this time I was hit much harder with how the game's biggest letdown is it being a shooter.
You read notes about stuff like employees boringly cataloguing 100 boxes of individual human teeth, or consulting incantations to calm a stapler that's tearing up the staff room, but all you get to do is shoot red dudes and float around. Pressing square to cleanse things, without even an appropriate mini game or something to jazz it up. The game borrows heavily from SCP shit, but fails to get that a lot of the draw with that stuff is the weird containment procedures and rituals in dealing with them. Control is every SCP story ending with "Agents drew their guns and put the subject down".
I genuinely wish the gameplay was about dealing with anomalies by using a big tome you had to lug about to consult what procedures to use. Discovering new ones from hands on experience and adding to the data. Unique interactions instead of just walking into rooms and enemies spawn in so you start firing. It's a shame because the environmental design is immaculate in places, and as such feels wasted on mindless floating and dashing.
Also every object that isn't concrete sounds like milk bottles clinking together when you bump into them. It's daft. Maybe that's an AWE or something too.
What a weird mixed bag this is. Might be the best Samus has ever felt in 2D, but it's in a world that made my eyes kinda glaze over. Probably a bad sign when the old games with literal boxes connected to each other making up rooms felt more like a place you were, and not just a backdrop you happened to be in front of. It was as if the more detail in an area, the less I noticed it. I don't know.
Lovely improvements on the moment to moment stuff Samus Returns laid down, and a wee change up to the order you expect to get powers in was nice, but general traversal felt like much more of a chore than it ever has, even with the mobility improvements. Maybe it's just me, or how I was feeling at the time, but the world in general here feels like it was designed to slow you down. Not in a challenging way, but more via obtuse layouts that came across as slap dash rather than having any purpose, or feeling like anyone once inhabited these spaces. The EMMI rooms were especially bad for this.
From the first announcement I ignored all the marketing, and the million trailers Ninty put out. So it may be my own fault for not wanting spoiled on stuff, but I truly expected the EMMI to play a bigger part, and have more free-roaming and scripted sequences like SA-X in Fusion. Not confined to specific rooms you can freely dip in and out of. Just a bit of a let down in that regard, especially because every interaction with them feels separate from the rest of the game. Switching modes, and not in a good way. I remember deciding to start clearing the areas and getting all the missed pickups as I could tell I was nearing the end, and at some point while looking at the map I saw the wee bit saying Remaining EMMI: 2/7 and I went "Oh shit aye, The EMMI" out loud. They essentially left my mind whenever I wasn't in one of their designated areas.
Now you might have gotten this far and thought "Guy, there are three and a half stars up there. That's a seven. What the fuck are you playing at?", and I wish I knew. Despite all the shite I've scrawled above, I had a brilliant time. The story is nonsense, I never played Other M so the ADAM shit means nothing to me, and an info dump at the end made me laugh and swear at the game, but at no point was I actually having a bad time. Samus is confident as hell, and with skills to back it up. She has that rep for a reason, and it's on full display. She clowns bosses and it feels incredible. I lost count of the amount of times I was shooting missiles during a scripted sequence and thinking "SHE IS SO COOL!".
She 𝘪𝘴 so cool.