There are so many reasons Control proved to be a great game. Inventive combat, weird enemies and a good understanding of how to make a mystery box story work. And while we resolved Jesse Faden’s main story arc, there is still plenty of things going on in Control that the DLC seemingly wants to explore. With The Foundation expanding on the mysterious board, a currently unseen force that seems to lead the director through the curious world of Control, it seems like we’re getting closer to answers or at least more story but is this a good or bad thing?
The Foundation starts by explaining the rather ominous name. Instead of referring to an outside force or group similar to what we’ve seen, the name is meant to link to the lowest part of The Oldest House, where the Hiss wants to corrupt an item known simply as The Nail. For every answer Control is willing to give or seemingly important detail it wants to show, it manages to create more questions than it answers.
Here we meet someone previously associated with the board, are introduced to some names that will likely come into play in the future, including a Director that the board appointed, we finally find out what happened to Helen Marshall, who you might recall from the main story. While it’s great to see Control opt-out of overtly answering every question and sticking to what makes the story so fascinating, it also feels like we’re building to a bigger event.
In a lot of ways the story doesn’t need to continue beyond the events of the main game, but with her firmly in place as the Director, there is a sense that this is going to build to something far larger or at least climax in the second expansion. But, before we can worry about the future, you need to save the present.
Outside of a couple of new moves and a few minor changes, the gameplay is more of what you saw in the base game. Most of the puzzles are centered on the new crystal mechanics, so most locations, secrets and even a few obstacles are overcome by shooting or building crystals. It doesn’t take long to master and as cool as it can be, the novelty wears thin rather fast. A lot of this has to do with adding enough content to justify the concept and, as a result, it gets tedious. The same is true for the new Sharpened Hiss enemies, though they’re more weird foes you overcome.
What does stand out is relying less on existing content and making The Foundation feel like a unique area. With the Astral Plane bleeding into our world, several areas have a surreal flair to them. We still see some familiar designs, like the largely empty room with the doors and we do, at one point, end up in another office but so much of the expansion feels separate from Control that you could probably tell a screen from The Foundation apart.
And while the narrative focus is on other things, there are some jokes that poke fun at some of the weirder characters you encounter, along with a delightful new object of power. Obtaining the camera is probably one of the most interesting cleansing missions and shows that this expansion is less add a gimmick and some story and more like an extension of the main game. It never feels unnecessary, though it isn’t particularly long, and is just good enough to show the success of Control was far from a fluke.
Control – The Foundation Verdict
Despite the rather short length, The Foundation is an example of how DLC really should be. It feels different, adds a lot to the story, doesn’t forget what made the original great and tries its own thing instead of leaning on what worked in the past. Odds are you’ll be fascinated by the answers that just leave you with more questions and delighted with new obstacles to overcome. In all and all, The Foundation left me wanting more and I can not wait to see where the next expansion takes us.
[Editor’s Note: Control – The Foundation was reviewed on the PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]