Control was easily my Game of the Year in 2019, so there was no doubt in my mind that I would be getting its expansions, a decision unusual for me because I almost never buy DLC. The Foundation, the game's first story-based DLC, continues Control's penchant for weird horror with its own signature brand of humor while we delve deeper into the Oldest House. It doesn't break the mold and completely change up the formula, nor does it deliver a ton of new content, but instead delivers on everything that made the base game so great.
Despite some repetitiveness with the missions, The Foundation does exactly what it needs to: give you more beneath the Oldest House for you to explore while expanding upon the world introduced in the base game. Plus, the stakes are higher than ever. The Astral Plane is bleeding into the Bureau, and it's only a matter of time before it destroys everything.
Bottom line: The Foundation is exactly what an expansion should be. It fleshes out the game's universe, gives us new areas to explore and challenges to overcome, and keeps you entertained until the very end. While not the largest or most substantial expansion ever offered, it certainly gives you your money's worth.
- Great level design
- More backstory on the Oldest House and Astral Plane
- New enemies are more challenging
- Sense of humor
- Still marred by frequent and sometimes severe performance issues
- Bosses can be more frustrating than fun
- Missions can grow a little repetitive
Control: The Foundation What I like
The Foundation excels at delivering what made Control so good to begin with. It explores the backstory of the Oldest House and its relationship with the Board and the Astral Plane. Jesse and the Board are at odds throughout The Foundation, and this tension remains even after the story is resolved. Is the story still a bit confusing? Sure. But that's part of what made me love Control to begin with. It's almost like David Lynch decided to make a video game. It's surrealist and bizarre and none of it should make sense and you can't help but get sucked in.
The Foundation excels at delivering what made Control so good to begin with.
Control wouldn't be what it is without its humor, and we get to see that even more in the Foundation. For example, when the Former shows up and mentions something about hunger, Jesse wonders if it's offering her a sandwich. There's another moment where an audio tape plays that explains that the bureau does not have windows, so if an employee sees a window they should cover their eyes and go to a safe room immediately. When I walked into a bathroom hoping to find a collectible, I instead walked into the Astral Plane with bathroom stalls and toilets floating in the air. Jesse then commented on the Bureau's plumbing.
We don't get to see as much of the brutalist architecture that made the Bureau so distinct, but Remedy does a fine job of ensuring the caverns and cave systems we explore in the DLC don't feel out of place — though they can grow bland after a while. Bits of the Astral Plane are bleeding into it, and some parts of the Bureau have made their way all the way down there, too. While then map may look small because it's just a handful of paths connecting to a few larger areas, it's deceiving. The Foundation has so much verticality to it which is aided by one of your two new abilities, allowing you to manipulate terrain and create platforms in certain spots.
The addition of two new abilities and a new Hiss enemy type keeps you on your toes during combat. This Hiss is fast-moving, swift, and carries a pickaxe for melee or ranged attacks. Even if you attempt to levitate and get the high ground, you're not safe. I found myself dying more than I was used to, but I'm glad some challenge and variety was added to the regular Hiss enemies. The new abilities that allow you to manipulate terrain and destroy rock formations also affect combat when you can shoot the floor out from under an enemy's foot or raise spikes from the ground that quickly shred an enemy apart.
The Foundation also adds some new Altered Items that make for some fantastic side missions. I'd go so far as to say these are even better than parts of the main story missions in this expansion.
Control: The Foundation What I don't like
I was hoping that Remedy had ironed out Control's performance problems on PlayStation 4, but they unfortunately still persist. On my PS4 Pro I encountered frequent lag, frame rate drops, and long loading screens. Even just entering and exiting a menu could cause the frame rate to stutter for a few seconds. Weirdly this happened less often during frantic gameplay moments and more often when I was just walking through a hallway or opening up my map.
Like the base game, bosses in The Foundation could be hit or miss. There are some really cool boss battles that are a nice change of pace — one, in particular, has you jumping between moving platforms barreling down railway — but others are too frustrating for their own good. There's a fine line between being challenging yet rewarding versus being needlessly difficult. Remedy hasn't quite gotten the balance right.
As happy as I am to be back in Control with new missions to complete, a lot of the missions are also fairly repetitive. The whole expansion boils down to completing four trials that all take you to the Astral Plane and require you to do a few platforming segments and fight some enemies before progressing. This was also an issue in the opening hours of the base game, but that could be chalked down to stale gameplay from lack of skills and enemy variety. In The Foundation, the problem is that you're asked to do the same thing four times over, with minor variations each time in terms of environments and enemies. Not sure which is more frustrating.
Should you buy Control: The Foundation? Yes
The Foundation is an excellent expansion to Control, and it only made me even more excited for the next one. Remedy knows what it's doing with this game. It added more mystery to its universe while answering a few questions along the way. Even though the missions could grow repetitive, Jesse's new powers made combat and exploration more interesting, and it was still a welcome return to the Oldest House.
Problems that plagued the base game, like its irritating boss fights, still persist at times. I also really wish Remedy had ironed out some of the performance issues, but they didn't stop me from enjoying The Foundation. If you're a fan of Control despite its initial issues, then you should absolutely check out The Foundation.
Take a trip back to the Oldest House and discover its secrets
The Foundation is exactly what an expansion should be. It fleshes out the game's universe, gives us new areas to explore and challenges to overcome, and keeps you entertained until the very end. While not the largest or most substantial expansion ever offered, it certainly gives you your money's worth.
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