Dark Light

When I completed Control, (and it was late in the night) I found myself looking for answers instead of sleep. Like ‘where did Dr Darling vanish, where did Marshall go off to, who was the Former, who are the Board?’ Alas, these answers were beyond my grasp as if Remedy preferred to keep it open-ended for sequels, or strictly speaking, DLCs and expansions like the one released currently – The Foundation. And it does answer a few of the questions I mentioned above, all while keeping the concept fresh and crisp. But even better, it expands more on the backstories, like the history of the Oldest House, the relationship between the Board and the previous Directors and what are the Former’s motives. All these with some cocky humor spat by our protagonist Jesse Faden (since she’s the Director now). Let’s see how does this DLC fair.

Explore the bedrock of the Oldest House

Some ask why is it called the Oldest House? Well, because it is the oldest structure to ever exist, always present in the middle of Manhattan in one form or another, like say a huge tree or a sacred mountain worshipped by early tribes. And like every ancient tree, it has its ‘roots’ extending deep underground, a series of caves and bottomless chasms locked away from the rest of the FBC, known as The Foundation. Now, something is causing the Astral Plane to bleed into the Foundation and if left unplugged, it would swallow up our physical plane in its blinding light. And above this, Marshall has gone AWOL. Now, it’s up to Jesse to head down into the bottom of the Oldest House and fix/plug the astral bleed/leak before it consumes our dimension. Sounds simple, right? So was the main objective of the base game. Because we all know where Control really shines – the world-building.

Plenty of notes and audio files scattered throughout the caves shed light on what was it like for the past Bureau members to work inside the Foundation. And just like the base game, Foundation follows the formula of ‘show, don’t tell’. To mention a few, I unexpectedly found a Fortune Cat/Maneki Neko in one of the fire-breaks, which later turned out to be an Altered Item that can appear anywhere. Some audio tapes described the ordeal of the Bureau employees when an entire sector got caught in a building shift and was transported into the Foundation. Then there’s this crazy train ride with a dope soundtrack while chasing a movie camera altered item. Moments like these are really icing on the cake for Remedy where the side-missions and boss fights felt exciting than the main mission (one can never forget the Ashtray Maze sequence in the history of videogames). But now the stakes are higher than usual as even the Hiss have entered the Foundation and due to the Astral Bleed can easily access the Astral Plane.

What’s Good?

The gameplay is nothing different except for two newfound powers: first one allowing you to manipulate strange crystals growing in the Foundation creating platforms to traverse, and second one allowing you to break these crystals opening new pathways. These powers also affect combat because now you can shoot the crystal floors from underneath the enemies or raise spikes from below to shred them up. These powers are quite crucial because the new enemy type, the Hiss Sharpened, they are a nuisance of some sort (and in a good sense). Agile, able to teleport short distances and able to hurl pickaxes, you’ll die a lot more in Foundation than you did in the rest of the Oldest House (especially when you’re levitating).

For the most part, Remedy trades away the greyish, brutalist architecture of the Oldest House for more-or-less linear cave routes filled with red sands and grey crystals. But even though the cave systems are linear, the caverns are quite big like some areas from the base game; your very own ‘sand’ box to wreak havoc on the Hiss. In fact in the caverns, you can see the blinding light of the Astral Plane with your own eyes, occupying the roof and the chasms into which if you fall, you’ll be spawned back to your last location with lower health (Souls anyone?). And since your skill tree would’ve been upgraded by now, the game spawns tougher named enemies (you’ll be seeing a lot more Hiss Elevated, Hiss Distorted and Hiss Warped than usual). But now radio equipment at certain locations allow you to call FBC Rangers for backup to assist you.

And what’s …. not really that good?

Yeah, it’s not all glory and sunshine. Remedy overdoes the new abilities that help in vertical traversal in the Astral Plane sections. Way too much platforming in the Astral Plane while fighting the Hiss as well as Astral copies of the Hiss. And you do this not once, but four times, These sequences felt quite repetitive and you’ll eventually end up hoping when will this Astral Ritual end. In fact, one of the sequences is so long that you’ll come across four control points within a single run! And since its a small DLC, don’t expect any major boss fights. I mean, there is, but it’s not as interesting as the boss fights of the base game (Screw you esseJ!). It’s just your typical boss fight where at half health, the coward boss spawns some annoying minions.

Also, I had mentioned in my review of Control how some areas are unnaturally brighter and darker. And since Remedy has chosen a dimly lit, winding cave system as its backdrop, good luck finding those pathways and collectibles in the pitch black.

Then there’s this recurring performance issue and long loading times. The game was tested on an Intel i7 8th Gen processor paired with a 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 and 16GB RAM and yet frame rates dipped terribly here and there, especially when I entered a new area or when I was exiting the Loadout/Collectibles/Skills menu. Furthermore, at 1080p and high settings, the fps didn’t go above 45-50, maybe due to more open spaces as compared to corridors. But quite ironically, the fps in the Astral Plane goes well above 60.


If you ask whether you should spend 5.99$ on this DLC, then I would say it’s absolutely worth it! Control was nominated for Game of the Year 2019 and for good reason. And Remedy just added this icing on their cake called The Foundation. What is better than knowing a little more about the Oldest House and its history? And unlike the DLCs in other games which usually feel like a separate episode apart from the main narrative, Foundation builds upon the…err… the foundation of the base game. It really feels like an add-on. If you don’t mind the simple boss fights in contrast to the base game, you might like to add this to your library. The game is currently available on Epic Store, PS4, Xbox One and will be coming soon to Steam.

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