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Credit: Remedy

Take It Easy Mode: Control is no longer out of control

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Sep 9, 2020, 3:00 PM EDT

Take It Easy Mode is a bi-weekly column on the unsung hero of video games, the Easy setting, for casual and new gamers, parents, and people who generally find higher difficulty modes frustrating.

I've been hearing about the video game Control from Remedy Entertainment and 505 Games for months now. The discussion constantly revolves around how good the story is, how great the voice acting is, and just how immersive it is as an experience. It's enough to make anyone want to play it!

But hand in hand with that discussion always comes the caveat about its difficulty: Control is a hard game. It didn't ship with an Easy Mode, and there was no way to set the difficulty at a lower level. I heard about the "difficulty spikes" time and time again, as well as the sporadic save points. People would die often in boss-type battles and then have to reload and replay a chunk of the game over and over again to progress. This does not sound like my idea of a good time, so after I bought Control (it was on sale!), I put it on the back burner. In theory, I really wanted to play it to experience what many had told me was an amazing story. But in practice, I couldn't be convinced that inflicting that level of frustration on myself would be enjoyable.

Credit: Remedy

Then, a few weeks ago, a very welcome free update appeared on my PS4: All of a sudden, Control had an Easy Mode. It's called "Assist Mode," and not only does it increase the number of save points, but it also allows you to toggle options and customize the difficulty. You can turn Assist Mode on and off during gameplay, or you can set it up at the very beginning.

The options for Assist Mode are as follows: First, there's Enhanced Aim Assist and Aim Snapping (these are pretty self-explanatory; I recommend turning both on). The next three options are multipliers to increase Energy Recovery, Damage Reduction, and Ammo Recovery. If you're trying to make this the equivalent of an Easy Mode, I'd max out Energy Recovery and Ammo Recovery. With Damage Reduction, you can decide based on the last two options, which are Immortality and One-Hit Kills. If you still want a bit of a challenge, you can keep Damage Reduction where it is and turn on One-Hit Kills. Or you can max out Damage Reduction and turn on One-Hit Kills and turn on Immortality, like I did. (I mean this column is all about Easy Mode.) Honestly, you're probably meant to choose between Immortality and One-Hit Kills, but I made it as easy as possible by maxing out and turning on everything I could. The thing I like here, though, is you can customize the challenge to wherever you feel comfortable.

Control is one of those games that drops you into a world where you have no idea what's going on, and you have to figure it out as you go along. The premise is that you're investigating the clandestine Federal Bureau of Control, which is a mysterious organization that kidnapped your brother when you were very young. You've been searching for them for years and have finally found their headquarters, but something has gone terribly wrong when you arrive. There's a whole lot of paranormal stuff happening, and it's up to you to get to the bottom of it (in addition to figuring out what happened to your brother). That's really all you know at the beginning of the game, and you have to solve puzzles and talk to characters to figure out the rest. The story is incredibly good, and the way it unfolds, paired with the gameplay, is creative.

Credit: Remedy

The length of the game is also somewhat remarkable; while there are plenty of side quests in which to partake, the main story only runs about 12 hours. If you add on side missions, it's around 20 hours (though I believe that does not include the two DLC that have come out since the game's release). That's pretty novel in a time when games routinely run 50 to 100 hours. I do like long games, but there are times when I need a bit of a breather, and this is the perfect option for those times.

The thing you need to know about Control, though, is that just because it has Assist Mode doesn't mean it's easy. All that does is make the fighting easier, but there is much more than that to this game. First of all, even though this latest update increased the number of save points, they still require some navigating to get to (and the map isn't exactly ideal), which means you need to have buffer time when playing this game — I'd make sure you have a couple of hours to play every time you sit down with it. Also, parts of the game involve jumping, running, and using powers to complete missions, and Assist Mode doesn't make those quests easier. For example, I'm probably never going to acquire the Shield ability, because I am laughably bad at the obstacle course you're required to pass in order to obtain it. No tweaking of the difficulty settings can help me there.

If you're a completist gamer, if you like fulfilling every mission or passing every quest, and you're as bad at video games as I am, Control might be too frustrating for you. But if you want to play the story and some of the side missions, and are willing to step back if a mission is too frustrating, then I highly recommend the experience that is playing this incredible game.

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