Control sets itself up like a movie, possibly written and directed by Rod Serling. Apart from the mind-blowing visuals, the story is one of the main reasons to keep playing this game. It only tells you enough to keep you interested, to keep you guessing, and then drip-feeds answers here and there.
Control has a few basic premises.
It's set in The Oldest House, a building between worlds that's alive, shifting, and changing. It has a creeping energy you're aware of as you play. There's also Objects of Power, everyday objects like carousels, TV sets, floppy disks, phones and safes that are enchanted/cursed with what the game calls para natural abilities. OoP's are unpredictable and cause crazy things to happen in The Oldest House. Jesse has to go around and claim these objects and kind of cleanse them of their curse, earning powers like levitation, shielding, telekinetic throws, and even mind-control in the process.
This injects some real intrigue into the experience and is responsible for a big part of that non-verbal storytelling mentioned earlier.
The game is centered around Jesse Faden; a young woman imbued with abilities from another realm. Like the Men in Black, the Bureau is extremely secretive and hidden away, but Jesse finds her way into the Oldest House. Our introduction is extremely sparse, and we're thrust into a confusing balance of power that all makes sense later.
There's so much about the story that shouldn't really be talked about until you actually play the game, so I'll leave it at this: Jesse is searching for her brother, Dylan, after encountering an Object of Power in her youth. Her quest leads her to the Bureau, where everything changes--including Jesse. The story is so much more than this, though; it's a tale that spans multiple worlds and realities, a yarn pulled right out of some of the most creative minds in the games industry.
As the newly appointed Director of the Federal Bureau of Control, Jesse has to battle the Hiss, a strange force that manipulates time and reality to catalyze paradigm-shifting events in The Oldest House. This culminates in a series of interesting repeatable battles and encounters, all of which tap Remedy's excellent gunplay.
Jesse Faden talks to herself throughout the game, and it's clear from the get-go she's not alone inside of her head. There's someone--or something--else there. This internal monologue also raises some questions and keeps the player wondering.
But the best part of Control's story is the one that's not directly told.
It's the story you create, the story you imagine while you traverse The Oldest House and fight the weird inter-dimensional Hiss monstrosities. The game is both linear and nonlinear. The story is linear, but it's always taking you back to areas you've already been, which are sometimes different. Usually, there's just more baddies to kill, but sometimes you'll get to unlock doors and collect gear.
There's an air of mystique about the entire experience, but there's also sinister overtones throughout. You're now the Director of the Federal Bureau of Control, one of the good guys, one of the watchers on the wall who defends the masses from reality-breaking horrors they'll never even know about.
The more you explore, the more you find, both visually and narratively. Be sure to uncover every little tidbit and read every single thing you come across. Every little note, every case file, audio log, or Darling presentation fleshes out the storyline and the universe of Control. It's an incredibly ambitious universe, and it's a place you really want to delve into.
There's also something off about the Bureau. You feel like you're never getting the whole picture. You might run the show, but the show is always changing channels and broadcasts and you never really are in control.
The story takes us across a winding journey through Remedy's wild imagination, with a few stops at familiar places adapted right out of pop culture.