Everything weird and wonderful about Control
Control, Remedy Entertainment’s weird and wonderful runaway hit from 2019, dips into multiple genres of action game. At its core, it’s a third-person shooter, but player character Jesse Faden can also rip through hordes of enemies with telekinetic powers. But Control is also packed full of well-hidden secrets and collectibles. From FBC internal correspondence to Dr. Darling’s recorded presentations, there are hundreds of collectibles to find, read, or listen to. Control is one of the few games where finding office memos and audio logs actually feel compelling because each one helps flesh out the eerie setting of The Oldest House.
Most of what players find helps provide a little more context for the activities they’re performing. But sometimes the collectibles are outright disturbing. Control is at its best when it combines the world of the bizarre and the mundane to create some truly horrifying text and audio logs. The following is a selection of some of our favorite creepy collectibles.
Brian’s Movie Den Ep. 3
Podcasting isn’t easy. Hosts and producers have to find the right balance between procuring interesting content, self-promoting, and keeping a finger on the pulse of listeners. For Brian, the hapless host of in-universe podcast Brian’s Movie Den, it’s just a matter of time before his obscure movie pics make him a tastemaker. But players who listen to his review have a little more context: Brian isn’t just reviewing an obscure indie movie. Instead, he’s inadvertently bringing attention to some kind of supernatural snuff film. The short film described in the audio sounds creepy enough: a mailman is driving around in his truck, being chased by hellhounds who are ripping out chunks of his flesh as they keep up with him. Brian’s ignorance of the reality of what he’s reviewing makes listening to this audio collectible particularly upsetting. He blithely praises the avant-garde filmmaking and shouts out the name of the production company, Blessed Pictures, never knowing that this arthouse film is something much more dastardly.
Work Chat: Teeth
Something Control does exceptionally well is paint enough of a picture for players to get the gist of something without overexplaining. In the case of this short work chat, five short sentences are more than enough. Employees of the FBC have plenty to bond over, and some employees have taken to swapping stories about the weirdest stuff they’ve dealt with lately. This memo perfectly registers the disgust that a filing clerk who deals with the supernatural might have to deal with on a daily basis. This memo also showcases another of Control‘s great strengths: the worldbuilding raises just as many questions as it answers. Where did the teeth come from? What is their purpose? Why is the FBC making this poor worker inspect them? We’ll never know.
Objects of Power in Control are material things that exude some kind of influence on the world around them. This collectible, found in the Research Sector, provides details on a mysterious mirror. There’s a chilling detail in this mirror report: “The environment seen in its glass contains slight distinctions.” It’s not a normal mirror, but something different, something other. If it doesn’t reflect the world around it, what does it reflect? Is it sentient? More importantly, is it malevolent? Solving the mystery of this mirror leads to one of Control‘s best sidequests, and this collectible is more than enough to pique the interest of curious players.
Threshold Kids Rejected Episode
Control is filled with iconic collectibles, but the most memorable are the bizarre set of short episodes of the puppet show Threshold Kids. These shows firmly fall into the “absurdly creepy” category. The voice acting is slightly off, the puppet movements are jerky instead of smooth, and the whole tone of them is just inappropriate for its intended audience of children. The puppets themselves are nightmarish, but an additional episode can be found in the Foundation DLC that takes the Threshold Kids from weird-but-charming to truly unsettling. This rejected episode has distorted sound and even more unhinged visuals that push it even further into the realm of horror.
P6 Victim Autopsy
Working at the FBC has its risks. What might start off as a normal workday might end up with an employee getting hurt by a rogue building shift or the like. But nothing prepared the sad NPC detailed in this autopsy report for their fate. Control redacts information in several collectible documents, and the final redaction in this report is expertly applied: “After examination, it was determined that the cause of death was internal bleeding that occurred when the [REDACTED] was contorted through his [REDACTED].” The player’s imagination fills in the blanks better than any text could. This collectible also does double duty, helping to establish the stakes of how dangerous P6 is, and the threat posed if P6 isn’t taken care of.
Some of the creepiest content in Control are Correspondence. Scattered through the FBC are letters from people throughout the world who have experienced or are currently experiencing some kind of paranormal phenomena. Some of these Correspondences skew funny, but most, like Pinstripe World, is confusing and unsettling. The content of the letter is just one phrase, repeated over and over: “I’m a plaid suit in a pinstripe world.” One can imagine the letter-writer, feverishly compelled to write, hunched over as they scribble the phrase on a piece of paper and send it somewhere, anywhere. What’s curious is that in the middle of the page, there’s a redacted phrase. Logically, the player knows that it’s probably just that same sentence- but what if it isn’t? What if the redacted phrase unlocks the whole thing? The black block is never removed, and the player is left to wonder if there is something else contained within the rambling.
America Overnight Ep. 367 and Green
This final dual entry perfectly summarizes how Control handles collectibles. They might seem like a random assortment of Altered Item assessments, office memos, confusing videos, and strange audios but taken as a whole, the collectibles inform and provide context for each other. Take the case of the radio program America Overnight Ep. 367 and the Correspondence titled Green. On the one hand, a radio show is interviewing Peggy from Biloxi, a woman whose husband has potentially been ensnared by a dangerous Himalayan salt lamp. On the other, the perspective of the man the salt lamp has captivated. Players might find one collectible and not the other, but seeing them both side-by-side is heartbreaking and horrifying. After listening to just a few seconds of Peggy from Biloxi’s phone call, the radio host cuts to commercial while asking Peggy to stay on the line. We never hear the outcome but can only hope someone from the FBC made it there on time. The side of the coin is the Correspondence. It’s from Peggy’s husband, who desperately wants to keep her safe but doesn’t know how, because he doesn’t know where he’s gone. It’s a short letter but combined with the brief radio clip, it paints a chilling picture of the danger of Objects of Power and Altered Items on an unsuspecting public.
Control is filled with moments of awe and terror. Finding collectibles is almost always worth it, because players never know what stories they’ll uncover next. Whether it’s something comical or confounding, The Oldest House never fails to provoke. Remedy’s writing team and narrative designers have done a fantastic job of creating mysteries that delight as well as unsettle, and it’s why Control is still an incredibly popular game an entire year after its release.