Control was a game that absolutely blew me away. Sending you through The Oldest House and giving you god-like powers to punch the Hiss with flying debris, commune with all kinds of otherworldly creatures and ultimately saving the day, it was a fantastic experience. I walked away from it wanting more and the Foundation serves as a nice continuation of the narrative.
I’m typically not a fan of DLC story campaigns and would rather devs focus their efforts on creating a fully fledged sequel, but after spending a few hours in The Foundation, I was happy to eat my words. This is not just a tacked on DLC for the sake of making a quick buck.
It continues on from where you left off at the end of Control, with Jesse having sent the Hiss packing and accepted her place as the Director of the Federal Bureau of Control. Of course, there’s trouble just around the corner as the astral plane starts to bleed into reality and it’s up to Jesse to travel down to the very foundations of the Oldest House and solve the issue at hand.
At first, my thoughts were that this was going to get boring, that by this point I’m just far too powerful, and you know what? It started out that way. As I explored the caverns deep beneath the oldest house, it all felt a bit… samey. Lots of grey rocks and long tunnels with the occasional open area. Not much really going on. I questioned whether or not this was truly filler material. It’s really once you reach the main hub area, The Crossroad, that the DLC opens up.
You are given the choice of two new tools to help you through the DLC. The Shape ability which is used to create new platforms from crystal clusters on walls or make spikes from ones on the ground. These spikes are, of course, hazardous to enemies as well. The other ability is a gun upgrade called Fracture, which can be used to destroy certain crystal formations giving you access to different areas or dropping out ground from underneath enemies feet, sending them to their doom.
They’re good additions, giving you a choice on how to play the early part of the DLC, but on the flip side, The Foundation is the only place these new abilities are useful.
After that, it’s off to explore the various caves and repair the damage that the astral bleed is causing. The missions here are a little more linear in comparison to the main game, with less exploring and more straightforward “go here, kill monsters” design. It’s a step back in that respect, but at least the enemy engagements are a challenge. I found myself dying a lot – maybe I’m just bad? – but the enemies definitely seemed on their A-game.
A new pickaxe wielding enemy can teleport around and will quickly make mincemeat out of you if you’re not paying attention. I found this happened a lot while roaming the caverns. The aerial versions of the pickaxe guys really hurt my soul, often flying in out of nowhere and crushing me in a couple of hits. They are generally accompanied by other returning enemies, but even these have seemingly been on a bad guy training course or two.
Thankfully, more ability points are rewarded as you play to further increase Jesse’s badassery, including a new ability called Shield Rush which let’s you plough into enemies with a raised rock shield, doing damage as you go.
The best part of it all is the story actually offers something interesting. There’s discourse now between Jesse and the Board. Even the Former is getting involved, having an awkwardly funny conversation with Jesse at one point. The Control universe was already great and it’s fantastic to see it expanded so soon. Once again, there is an abundance of lore to be found throughout in logs, audio files and more, which will satisfy the more curious minds out there.
There’s plenty to do on the side as well, with a couple of new side missions, some fresh Objects of Power to cleanse and a bevy of collectables that include cats! Yes, eight small Maneki-Neko statues are somewhere to be found, rewarding you with a cool little prize for finding all of them.
The Foundation is a nice addition to the Control-verse, clocking in around 4-5 hours to complete. It’s not doing anything groundbreaking, but it is more of the same, which is a damn good thing in Control’s case. Yes, it would have been nicer for the missions to have been a bit more dynamic, but the world-building and the storytelling continue to be one of Control’s major selling points. With the next expansion set to expand the lore even further with connections to Alan Wake, it feels like Remedy is in it for the long haul.