Control’s latest update added an assist mode that makes protagonist Jesse into a paranormal killing machine with the click of a button. It’s an option I wish more games had.
While many games launch with multiple difficulty modes ranging from chill strolls to brutal death marches, Control only had one when it came out last fall. It’s a challenging game, with lots of tough fights against mobs of enemies who can kill you in the blink of an eye and long stretches toward the end with tough checkpointing. This cordoned off the game from a number of people who might have otherwise been interested in exploring its brutalist and mysterious world, while still leading to a fair bit of frustration for everyone else.
The game’s new assist mode, which went live in Control’s August update last week, fixed all this. Assist mode lets you customize how much more powerful you want to make Jesse. There are sliders for making her take less damage and decreasing the cooldowns on her abilities and ammo regeneration, as well as options for improving the aim-assist. Want to increase how much the aiming reticle is automatically drawn to enemies as it moves past them? You can do that. Want to make aiming completely automatic? You can do that too. You can toggle your choices on or off in the options menu.
Best of all, you can make Jesse invincible if you want. No matter how much damage she takes, she’ll never die. The screen will still start to blur and go red as her health reaches critical, but the final death knell never actually sounds. Couple that with an option for one-hit kills against enemies and you have most of the ingredients for a really robust god mode. I say “most” because even with all of Control’s assist mode features turned on, Jesse can still fall to her death. In a game with a fair bit of action and puzzle platforming, that can happen quite often. An option to turn off fall damage would go a long way.
What I like about Control’s assist mode more than a lot of standard difficulty sliders is how many options it gives you to fine-tune the experience, and the ease with which you can turn any of them on or off without completely changing the way enemy encounters and boss fights play out. It’s also great for quickly making up lost ground when progress gets wiped because something accidentally went awry.
Control has, only very rarely, crashed on me in the past, and the new assist mode would have been a great catch up tool. The same goes for boss fights where I all but won only to be undone by what I consider a cheap mistake. Case in point: when I finally beat Control’s optional Mold-1 boss only to die at the last second after my levitation ran out and sent me hurtling to the ground. The fight had ended, but the cutscene to trigger the checkpointing didn’t kick in, forcing me to go back and beat it again.
This is a common experience in a lot of games, one that doesn’t neatly fall into the buckets of something being “too easy” or “too hard.” Sometimes I just want to fly through a particular section of a game because I’m not having any fun. Some people just want to get to the good story bits, difficulty spikes be damned. Control’s assist mode goes a long way toward making those things easier, in addition to just making the game more accessible overall, and in the process offers a blueprint for a lot of other games to follow and build off of. Settings sliders for graphics and audio settings have become more standard even in console games. The same could go for the more granular details of how a game plays as well. It’s great to see Control doing exactly that.