Control: The Foundation & AWE DLC (2020)
The Foundation DLC:
When Control originally came out, I was excited to play it, but I was still wary of Epic’s exclusivity on the game. I wanted all my Remedy games on Steam, and Epic’s stranglehold of PC Platform exclusives really was making everyone mad at the time. So I was determined to get it when it came to Steam instead. But no one knew when that was going to be, and I wanted to hold my ground, but everyone was talking about how great it was, but the console ports were getting thrashed by the lower specs. It just didn’t run great on consoles. So I decided to pirate the game until it came out on Steam. So I played through the entire game on PC, but didn’t buy it… Until it came to Steam a year later, and with all the DLC.
So I was left with having to either import my save, or just replay through the game again fresh. I opted to play through the whole thing again, a year after initially playing through it, partially because I have this weird hangup of my Steam GamePlay Counter being accurate and I like knowing and keeping record of how long it takes for me to play through games.
So a quick recap before we get into the DLC. It took me just as long playing through the game a second time, even though I knew all the plot points and story beats. Partially because it seems the difficulty was tweaked from the original Epic Game Store version. I only died 3 times playing through the whole game originally. Twice by falling off a cliff, and once in the final battle with Dylan. The second playthrough took half an hour longer than the first playthrough, and I died a good 30ish times throughout the game, most by cheap kills from off screen opponents. I didn’t remember it being this difficult the first time around.
So now on to the DLC. Jessie is the Director of the FBC and beneath The Oldest House lies a bottom basement that keeps “The Nail '' a portion of the Astral Plane that is bleeding its way into our dimension. Marshall, the Security Manager basically, goes off to figure out what's going on underneath it all on her own. She ends up disappearing and it’s up to Jessie to go help/save her and solve the bleeding Astral Plane issue.
What results is basically a weird story with a large cave system that seems just as hard to navigate as the oldest house. Perform combat challenges with new enemy types and have a large open area that requires lots of floating/navigation. I personally didn’t really enjoy this DLC really at all. It felt like a lot of tiller and nothing really of note. There are some good interactions with the big lifeform you fought in the base game called the former, and also The Board.
The new DLC that released with the Steam version day and date is titled AWE, in game standing for Altered World Events, but also has a secondary meaning of Alan Wake Expansion by fans… The reason is exactly that, this DLC features the first real information about Alan Wake since the side game Alan Wake’s American Nightmare.
When I first played Alan Wake a few years after release, I was enthralled with its story, main character and side characters in this weird quirky universe. Taking large chunks of inspiration from Stephen King and Twin Peaks, it just was a really enjoyable story with mysteries that sadly were never explained, as Remedy went off and made Quantum Break then Control. The DLC also had confirmation from Remedy themselves that they are starting a fully connected universe between their games (like everyone does now). So what is this whole DLC expansion exactly?
Jessie gets some info to head down to the Investigations Sector of the building. When she gets there, she starts seeing visions of Alan Wake, who now exists in this connected universe. He’s been trapped in a alternate dimension and then Jessie has to deal with this tall stretched out Hiss monster. It happens to be the missing Investigation Sector’s head of operations. He can only be hurt physically with light, so the main combat portions require the use of your powers and carrying around portable light sources. Using them on the main bad guy, and also parts of the level that have this black goo covering things. It’s all very in tone with the Alan Wake games, that used Alan’s flashlight to damage enemies in combination with a gun as well.
Sadly, the majority of the story is focused on the Hiss Corrupted Head Operator, and not Alan Wake. There are plenty of collectable documents to read through, but in the outset I felt like I took about 20 minutes just reading. I got really bored of it right out the gate…. And there are A LOT of readable collectables. It does give a bit of backstory to some characters in the Alan Wake games, like his wife and the in-universe rock band Old Gods of Asgard. It’s interesting, but really the whole DLC is just more of the main gameplay element of fighting Hiss with everything at your disposal.
There are a select few portions, one early one that the game uses to use the tech of the game in really interesting and fun ways. A section of a hallway starts multiplying its objects; plants, benches, and pictures. They all start multiplying, floating, and fading into other dimensions. It reminded me of the part in Sword and The Stone, where Merlin’s magic has all the dishes floating in the air. I really wish the game focused on these crazy encounters, instead of just more random corridors with countless faceless hiss.
The very end of the DLC, actually the last cutscene is really the only big redeeming part. So a bit of a spoiler warning, even though it really isn’t much. Jessie gets a call about a new AWE in Bright Falls, but it’s occurring a few years in the future. They talk about how it might have been happening for a couple years already, but not existing until the future date. Basically Remedy is giving a tease that they have been working on Alan Wake 2 for a bit, and hopefully will be released several years in the future. It’s all well and good, and puts a smile on my face, but I won’t really care until something more concrete is revealed. They’ve said vague things about the series for years, but they finally got the rights back to the series in 2019, so I’m assuming it's probably more real than it's ever been.
Both the DLCs offer more Control and a bit more expansion on what the Federal Bureau of Control is really all about. Some great new interactive scenes showing the power of The Oldest House, but sadly nothing more in line with the Ashtray Maze that many were hoping for. It’s great that the whole game only cost $30 with the DLC included, because the DLC alone really isn’t worth the asking price.