Perception is interesting; it is what our minds choose to see in any particular event or happening in our lives. Take the mundane for example, an office building. During the day we will view it as being normal, people may be running around filing away documents, with the sound of mechanical keys clacking. Then night begins to fall over the building, and in turn, it marks the start of people leaving the office; until it slowly falls into desolate silence and you realize you’re the only person left in the building. A place which was once normal now has become a place of eerieness as you walk through the concrete-walled corridors. I believe that this is what makes the ‘Oldest House’ in Control evoke a sense of dread from the mundane, and at the same time creates a surreal place of wonder. The following article contains minor spoilers for Control.
Writing to be remembered for the ages
The atmosphere itself is beautifully added to by the ascendant writing throughout Control. The storytelling is fluent and clear, but at the same time complex and intriguing. There are many collectible archives throughout the Oldest House, all of which add an extra layer to the story and the Bureau. These collectibles range from notes, to media such as a scientist explaining his findings; or a puppet show named “the Threshold Kids” that tries to explain paranatural events to children. Which is just as creepy as you’d expect it to be. One of my favorite quotes from Control has to be in one of the opening moments of the game and is as followed: “there’s a hole hidden behind that poster that leads to the real world. We all feel safe in that room. But sometimes… sometimes something crawls out from behind the poster, and the ones that see it happen freak out and try to forget what they saw.“
This was only a small part of the quote but I think it summarises the dialogue perfectly. I was talking about perception earlier and when Jesse talks about a poster here; we can see that Jesse views it as a blindfold on something hidden behind the poster. This is very interesting as the Oldest House frankly doesn’t exist to those who don’t know about it; it exists in an alternate reality. Only seen when the person truly knows and believes that it is there; the mind is confusing, paradoxical you could even say.
Remedy is great at creating experiences that allow us to create many theories about the subjects shown in-game. My personal view on this is that there are aspects of philosophical schools of thought akin to Existensiallism and Dualism. Dualism is the theory that reality is two separate parts; a formulaic substance. One part is the mind; what we perceive and the other being anything physically there. The Oldest House is the illusion of the mind but once the veil has been lifted on the building; the physical part exists too.
Shifting tides of concrete – the Oldest House
The Oldest House is a brutalist skyscraper which shifts and alters itself on the inside; the House is actually an AWE (an altered world event) which the Bureau had simply wanted to use as their headquarters. Quite frankly because of the fact it allows them to operate underneath society’s viewpoint. When navigating the corridors of the Oldest House, you begin to realize that the building is alive; it isn’t static, breaking the universal laws of physics. The mystery behind the Oldest House is yet another reason why I was so entranced by all of it.
The House is split into four unique sectors: the Research Sector, the Containment Sector, the Executive Sector, and finally the Maintenance Sector. These are the sectors which we get to explore throughout the game; however, there are probably a lot more areas of the Oldest House still undiscovered by the Bureau. My favorite area was the Research sector; it had contained countless years of research carried out by the FBC; hidden secrets of the Bureau. You really started to understand the omnipresence of altered items within Control’s world, and just how dangerous they really are. As I was walking around the Oldest House it just felt like a place with endless enigmas interwoven into a single amalgamation of concrete, if the walls even are “concrete”.
The Board/management of the Oldest House/AWE
‘The Board’ in Control acts as a sort of upper management for the Oldest House, or potentially the FBC itself. We don’t know who they are, what they want, or what they are. We know that they are present within the Astral Plane. They can communicate directly with Jesse Faden via an Object of Power known as the Hotline. Speaking oftentimes in paradoxical sentences such as “You/we wield the gun/you. The Board appoints you. Congratulations, Director.” However, this being said; they do not speak in our language, instead, they speak in an alien-like language but Jesse can still understand them clearly.
What interests me the most about the Board is their presence over the entirety of the Oldest House. They know every inch of the House, every minuscule detail; they appear to watch, observe, and study anyone who they deem worthy of being the director. The Board functions as an integral part of The Oldest House; guiding Jesses through her journey and across the Astral Plane but why? Is the question.
Control was an experience that I’ll remember forever, the gameplay, the story, the writing; everything. However, if you are looking for PressStartHub’s review of Control you can find it on the site very soon. This article was simply to showcase my appreciation for the setting of Control, all of the various parts of The Oldest House intertwined into one amalgamation.
Thank you very much for reading and as always, I hope you all have a great day!
All Control official trailers