Monday, 26 Feb 2024

Why Control looks like that

The architecture in Control isn’t just for show.

That was my takeaway from sitting down with Remedy Entertainment’s art director and world design director for a discussion about The Oldest House, where Control takes place. As everyone knows by now, The Oldest House is a Brutalist heap.

The style emerged after World War 2, and was predominantly used in municipal buildings or apartment blocks. It became shorthand for “creepy totalitarian government,” thanks to appearances in futuristic films and our own evolving design sensibilities. No style provokes as much love or revulsion as Brutalism does.

But Brutalism isn’t just a skin that Remedy pulled over their own creepy government agency, the Bureau of Control. It’s a perfect distillation of the studio’s own design goals, and Control’s gameplay.

A core part of Remedy’s design philosophy is that it should feel like the player has an effect on the world. The Oldest House does that be being made of beautiful, reactive concrete. Concrete is inextricable from Brutalist architecture. You can learn more about that in this great episode of 99% Invisible, which was created with input from the guy who literally wrote the book on concrete.

Anyway, concrete dictates how Control responds to player input. When Jesse Faden hovers and then slams into the ground, you get an impact crater. Bullets leave scars and fill the air with dust. I can rip out a gnarly chunk of wall and throw it, or use it as a shield. If I throw furniture it can explode on impact because concrete is really hard.

A fight in Control begins with smooth, bare walls and ends in a catastrophe of rubble that tells the story of the fight.

To learn more about concrete, Brutalism, and the design behind our #2 pick for game of the year, watch this video! Make sure you subscribe, and then hop into the comments to party with your fellow concrete-lovers (or haters). To learn more about how Control was made, check out our video on particle effects, which breaks down how the Hiss was created. For more behind-the-scenes talks with creators, watch our interview with Austin Wintory, where he explains how hard it was to compose the penultimate song on the Journey soundtrack.

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