The Beauty of Control: Why Remedy’s masterpiece is still hauntingly beautiful

The beauty of Remedy’s Control lies not only in the game’s visuals, art style, or the appearance of any characters. From the very start, Control seems hauntingly and uniquely beautiful in many, many ways.

Other than discussing a few details of the game world, optional collectibles, and the audio and visuals, I will not be including any major spoilers that will ruin the one-of-a-kind experience Control offers you. If you really despise spoilers like me, I suggest playing the game for a bit and being familiar with the premise first.

Disclosure: We may earn a commission from links on this page

Also, like any other game, Control has its share of issues and I’m not implying that it’s a perfect game. As the title says, this is an appreciation of how beautiful Control is and we will be looking past any flaws of the game.

Visuals and Art Style

Saying that Control is graphically impressive is an understatement. On maximum settings, everything is so detailed and crisp. And this is a game that was released in 2019.

From the walls and structures to the objects on the ground, every texture is clean, crisp, and simply magnificent to look at. In fact, reading notices on boards that appear throughout the game is incredibly easy and the textures rarely look blurry or aliased even when you’re very close to them.

The skin textures and shading on the characters’ faces make them appear lifelike. The facial expressions are incredibly realistic – from the way they smile or frown to the way their eyes and eyebrows behave in conversations.

The Beauty of Control: Why Remedy's masterpiece is still hauntingly beautiful
The effort Jesse puts here is clearly visible on her face.

The clothes that Jesse (the protagonist) initially wears are dark-colored and they take advantage of the cleanly detailed and crisp textures. The same applies to other characters. It’s hard to notice low-resolution textures on the characters unless you specifically look for them.

The Beauty of Control: Why Remedy's masterpiece is still hauntingly beautiful
The shading and texturing are perfect.

The lighting needs to be highlighted when we discuss how good the game looks. Dark places are dark. Entering a non-lit room is like falling into the abyss of Dark Souls. The darkness of such places isn’t unrealistic or over-the-top either but very realistic.

How light creeps indoors through the windows is gorgeous and the light feels like light. They’re warm-looking and obviously, bright in a realistic way. Enabling Ray-Tracing with more powerful GPUs pushes these lighting and ambient occlusion effects to the limit, drastically improving the image quality.

The below images speak louder than my descriptions. Observe them and you’re sure to be impressed.

The Beauty of Control: Why Remedy's masterpiece is still hauntingly beautiful
The Beauty of Control: Why Remedy's masterpiece is still hauntingly beautiful

Physics effects

The physics in Control is astounding. The environments are destructible to a certain degree. How the particles and debris react to the events that happen in the game is incredible. For example, when you use your abilities in-game to manipulate objects and throw them at foes, you feel the weight and force behind them. In combat, there are fire effects and a ton more particles flying around, making the battles much more chaotic and fun.

Audio and Sound Effects

The gun sounds, destruction sounds, and all sound effects of the game are impeccable. So are the voice-acting performances. Apart from that, there are a few specific things that I find to be hauntingly beautiful.

The Hiss is some unknown entity or power that acts antagonistic. It got its name from the hissing sound it makes. The enemies which are corrupted by the Hiss emit its bizarre hissing sound and it’s as strange as the game itself.

The inaudible, loud, and angry words that come out of the loudspeakers around the map are also very unique. It’s horrifying because of how deep and distorted it sounds, and that’s also part of the beauty of Control. It sounds very much like someone or something is scolding or yelling at someone; its inexplicable nature suits the game.

The Oldest House

The Oldest House is the location where the game takes place. This huge building is very different from the usual design of a place. It’s bizarre, twisted, and changeable. The design of the game world seems to have taken inspiration from surrealism and even Lovecraftian cosmic horror. We’ll be discussing more of the cosmic horror aspects later.

This establishment looks very much like a modern office, yet there is stuff that’s going on here. The architecture of certain things you find in the game is alien and doesn’t match the conventional design of the building. Yet it somehow manages to exactly match the theme of the game.

Weird stuff you find in The Oldest House

By “Weird stuff you find in The Oldest House,” I mean many of the collectibles and details in the game world. There are signs that say disturbing things. For example, there was one sign that says something along the lines of “Despite feeling very familiar, you haven’t been to this place ever before.”

Gathering the collectibles in Control is meaningful; they aren’t just there to keep the player occupied for a long time period. Rather, each and every collectible item you find – be it a videotape or a file – contains revealing information about the Oldest House and the inexplicable things that happen in it.

Cosmic Horror Elements

Control was inspired by the SCP Foundation, which is a fictional containment facility that holds extremely dangerous and perilous entities. Also, it’s safe to say that this is a cosmic horror game. One of the scariest parts of the game is how you’re a complete amateur to all the stuff that’s happening within the Oldest House. In fact, many characters you meet in the establishment are also very confused. One thing’s for certain: the enemy, or whatever the heck you’re up against, is something that is very dangerous and you don’t know anything about it.

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”

H.P. Lovecraft

Control lets you know certain parts of the inexplicable things that are happening, but it doesn’t let you in on too much. This fuels players’ curiosity and keeps them hooked to the game. It’s a very intelligent way to keep a player engaged.

The Enemies

I won’t go into details about the enemies but I will talk about a few traits of their brilliant design. The foes you get to fight are infected with the Hiss and they look corrupted – not in a gross way, but in an intriguing and beautiful way. Observe the below image from the film Annihilation.

That fungal thing is very grotesque, but is there not some sort of strange beauty to it? The colors and the way the moss-like stuff is spread everywhere around the skull, it’s all rather… intriguing. I know I’m not the only one who finds that interesting.

The enemies of Control are like that: a little grotesque but you can’t help but look at them. The design is unique and like many elements of the game, haunting.

What are your thoughts on the beauty of Control? Let us know on the forums!