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Discover a world unknown.

"Fair warning: This is going to be... weirder than usual."
Jesse Faden

Control is a 2019 New Weird Action-Adventure video game created by Remedy Entertainment for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. It was released on August 27, 2019.

As a child in the town of Ordinary, Jesse Faden was caught up in a strange and terrifying event that shattered her world, took her brother Dylan away from her, and sent her on the run from the government. After seventeen years of fruitlessly searching for answers for what happened to her and Dylan, a mysterious presence from that event leads her to a concrete skyscraper in New York. There she discovers the Federal Bureau of Control, a clandestine government agency charged with suppressing knowledge of the supernatural — the very same group that took Dylan.

Unfortunately, her timing couldn't be worse.

The Bureau is under attack, its Director is dead, and most of its agents are either the same, missing or corrupted by the malevolent, otherworldly force that's invaded the building. Appointed the new Director by a strange entity called The Board, Jesse must fight back the "Hiss" as she delves deeper into the Bureau's strange headquarters and history.


If Jesse hopes to survive, find Dylan, and finally get some answers to her past, she'll need to do the one thing she never has ever been able to do. She'll need to take control, both of the Bureau and of her life…

The game has two major story DLCs designed to be handled after the main game is completed: The Foundation, which takes Jesse into the depths of The Oldest House, and AWE, which represents a new chapter for another much-loved Remedy game: Alan Wake.

An Ultimate Edition using Cloud Gaming for the Nintendo Switch was released on October 28th, 2020.

On June 29th, 2021, a multiplayer spin-off of Control, code-named Condor, and a higher budget game also taking place in the world of Control were announced.

Previews: Gameplay Trailer.

No relation to the 2007 Ian Curtis biopic or a 2011 anime series.


Control contains examples of:

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  • Abandoned Area: A few areas of the Oldest House have been long-abandoned by the Bureau, most due to some previous supernatural occurrence.
    • One office area of the Containment Sector has been sealed off ever since an Altered Item (in the form of an anchor) created a Threshold effect that inexplicably flooded it with endless clones of clocks, rendering it unusable. By the time you explore the area, the rooms and main hall are still utterly buried in clocks.
    • The Foundation Sector (the titular locale of the Foundation DLC) was first explored by the Bureau in the 60s, who set up a permanent research base to observe its phenomena, including a mysterious structure called The Nail. The Bureau was quickly forced to abandon the area after an entity they encountered became murderous, and had remained mostly sealed off, only accessible to Jesse after The Board opens a path to it.
    • The Investigations Sector (the setting of AWE) was active up until a couple of years before the start of the game, but was abandoned following the containment breach of "The Third Thing".
  • Ability Required to Proceed: While Jesse can explore most of the Oldest House as she is, the levitate ability is required to explore much of the later game. The power is the last one to be obtained as part of the main story.
  • Action Bomb: The Hiss Charged explode when they get close to you, or when you kill them. This can be weaponized if you get the ability to Lift human-sized enemies, as you can fling the Charged at other Hiss-infected.
  • Action Girl:
    • Jesse shoots, explodes, and generally wrecks dozens upon dozens of Hiss soldiers to get through the Oldest House and take it back.
    • Marshall, the head of Operations, is the first person to take the fight to the Hiss, grabbing a bunch of soldiers and taking them to get more HRAs. She's still fighting when Jesse locates her, and keeps doing so. She's also noted to have a habit of disappearing off by herself, often to dangerous locations, but always seems to come back in one piece. Unfortunately, her luck runs out in the Foundation DLC.
    • The Bureau's operatives and security personnel include numerous women, though with the protective suits they're wearing it's impossible to distinguish them from men until they start talking.
  • Air-Dashing: One use of the Evade power, which is all about high-speed burst movement. Used in the air to move forward, in mid-air, with no loss of height. Can be chained which causes a small drop during the gap between uses.
  • Alien Geometries: Most of the game can qualify as this to varying degrees. The Oldest House, the setting of the game, is ancient, potentially predates humans, certainly wasn't constructed by humans, and has a mind of its own. The Twisting Path section showcases how it can get quite agitated and active, with all the walls spinning in many different directions, and the Firebreaks feature bottomless voids with the only other visible structures being other Firebreaks, in distances and directions that do not make spatial sense when considering where on the map and on what floors the other Firebreaks are located. One overt example of this is during the "Merry Chase" mission, the floor collapses beneath Jesse, dropping her down into a mysterious sub-basement containing the merry-go-round horse object of power. Once she's dealt with that, the floor of the sub-basement also collapses beneath her, dropping her down — into the room she originally fell from.
  • All Therapists Are Muggles: Zig-zagged. On one hand, the one Jesse went to was Locked Out of the Loop, and you can find a recording in which she's struggling to make sense of what younger Jesse's telling her. On the other hand, the Bureau has numerous medical personnel, including psychologists, for their employees.
  • Almighty Janitor:
    • Ahti, almost quite literally, as he's a janitor Jesse encounters on the building's first floor. For one, he's still working (and alive) even though the building is in a state of lockdown; for another, he can control the elevators appearing and disappearing; he also is apparently unaffected by the Hiss Invasion despite not wearing an HRA, and finally, he reacts to Jesse's internal monologue. Later it's revealed that he's able to access parts of the Oldest House that other employees don't even know about, and can even set up makeshift Control Points. His true nature is never revealed, though he remains on Jesse's side to the very end. Some of his dialogue, such as his insistence on Jesse being his assistant, comments regarding vacation, threatening an unknown 'them' in regards to both, implies he is on the same level if not above the Board. He's also heavily implied to be the Finnish god of the same name and is apparently buddies with the Old Gods of Asgard.
    • To a lesser extent, Jesse herself. The instant she arrives, she's promoted to Director, and is everyone's boss. Despite this she's still running around fixing everything personally. Either by accident or foresight, one of the first doors you encounter right after you get the Service Weapon / Directorship is locked by a Lv.1 security clearance... which Jesse, who (again) is everyone's boss and now runs the Bureau, does not have because there are no spare keycards.
    • This is taken to absurd degrees when you reach Containment, where you can accept a side mission where a Ranger apparently has access to a Lv.9 keycard — the highest Jesse can get in the base game is Lv.6. This is like if Mulder and Scully somehow changed the password to the Cigarette Smoking Man's laptop.
  • All for Nothing: Underplayed in the Old Boys' Club mission, where Jesse and Marshall try to restart the HRA production. As soon as they fight their way to the production plant and figure out how to activate the machine, a crucial component breaks, necessitating that Jesse return to Maintenance to get more of it.
  • All Myths Are True: The AWEs - or, at least, some of them - can be created by both ancient myths and modern Urban Legends. One document even implies that the FBC is deliberately spreading more urban legends to foster creation of AWEs it desires, and they're revealed to be the secret backers of the paranormal enthusiast radio show "America Overnight".
  • Amulet of Concentrated Awesome: Objects of Power are basically this. A person who binds one gains the same ability - more or less - as the one the OoP possesses on its own. Other than the Service Weapon, examples include:
    • A diskette containing Soviet nuclear launch codes that lets you use Launch.
    • A merry-go-round horse that lets you Evade.
    • A safe that lets you Shield.
    • An X-Ray light box that lets you Seize your enemies.
    • An old television that lets you Levitate.
    • An ashtray with a cigarette resting on it, which generates a winding maze which resembles a 1950's era hotel. This is the only Object of Power which Jesse doesn't bind, and instead makes up the Ashtray Maze in the Research sector.
  • Anaphora: The Flavor Text for the Research & Records: Research: "Ahti's Cabin" Collectible, the second sentence uses this to connect the things the cabin has:
    Lomille lomps, holiday homps. The sauna is warm, the beer is cold, and the kossu is in ice.
  • And the Adventure Continues: Despite Jesse defeating Dylan and shutting down the Projector, the Oldest House is still locked down and Hiss are still present, leaving Jesse to continue the fight against the Hiss until they're completely cleared out of the FBC.
    • Same deal with the expansions as well. Jesse saves the Oldest House (and hell, all of reality) in The Foundation and then the Bureau in AWE. Yet, the House is still filled with the Hiss, and there are ominous signs of more trouble for the Bureau yet to come...
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: A few side quests reward Jesse with new outfits, such as:
    • A "Gold Suit" from winning the roulette wheel in the Luck and Probability department
    • The Badass Longcoat "Asynchronous Suit" from defeating Mirror Boss esseJ in the Self-Reflection side quest in the Synchronicity Lab.
    • A janitor jumpsuit from completing all of Ahti’s tasks.
    • You also get two outfits for progressing the story:
      • The "Office Assistant" standard FBC women's outfit of short-sleeved white blouse, black slacks, and black pumps, after Jesse's worn it once.
      • The "Director's Outfit" that is a dark-blue version of the Gold Suit, along with Jesse having a pinned-up hairstyle, the only Costume that changes her hair in the original base game.
    • The Expedition Gear from beating the hardest Expedition to the Formation, is the earliest Costume that can be acquired to change Jesse's hair, into a ponytail. Presumably a Tomboyish Ponytail for better combat, since that's the only Costume explicitly made for possible combat.
    • Foundation has a mission where you collect 8 Maneki Neko statues. Finding them all grants you access to the club room where you are given a cat ear headband.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: There are several that this game provides.
    • Firstly, your ammo automatically reloads for you by "charging". This makes gameplay not only more convenient, but fast-paced, without having to worry about having to find ammo clips.
    • Do you have low health? Can't find any element to pick up? No problem! Simply backtrack and any element that dropped from enemies that you killed earlier will still be there until you quit the game.
    • Launch:
      • When you prepare to Launch something, you normally grab the object you're aiming at. If you're not looking at any grabbable objects (highlighted by a white border), Jesse will simply rip a chunk of concrete from the floor or wall. There's very clearly a bit of rebar sticking out of it, too. Which is a bit jarring if you do it in the Astral Plane, where everything is made up of smooth stone that is definitely not reinforced concrete.
      • If an enemy throws/shoots an explosive near you, using Launch will grab it without having to aim at it, even if it's out of view. Timed explosives also won't detonate while you're holding them.
    • For people wanting to stream or Let's Play the game, there's an option to turn off copyrighted music to avoid copyright strikes. Furthermore, "Take Control" is so integral to the Ashtray Maze sequence that Remedy intentionally left it out of content ID systems entirely and encourages those who've had a false copyright strike to reach out to them for help overturning it.
    • A patch introduced Assist Mode to the gameplay options menu. Here, you can activate a better aim assist, adjust how much damage you take, how potent health pickups are, ammo recovery rate and delay, and even give yourself immortality and one-hit kill shots. Surprisingly, this doesn't disable achievements. The same patch also added new control points outside of optional boss rooms.
    • Averting Permanently Missable Content, any collectibles in areas you can't return to (such as the lobby) have alternate locations where they will be moved to if you did not pick them up at the first opportunity.
    • When you die, you won't have to go through a Hiss encounter if you cleared it before dying. This is especially handy when the nearest control point is a good distance away.
    • In a similar vein, if you die in the Ashtray Maze, the Maze will re-route itself to put you back where you were instead of making you go through the entire maze again.
  • Anti-Magic:
    • The HRAs, or Hedron Resonance Amplifiers, are reasonably good at protecting the wearers from Hiss corruption. Hedron resonance specifically neutralizes Hiss resonances. How and why Darling created them is pointed out by both Jesse and Pope as suspiciously well-timed. It turns out he'd figured out what Trench had done and that the Hiss invasion was imminent, but didn't have time to do more than cobbling together and distributing a few dozen without tipping his hand.
    • Polaris similarly protects Jesse from the Hiss, and is furthermore capable of driving the Hiss out of anything it corrupts (although it’s “burrowed too deep” into most people to cleanse them without killing them). HRAs work because they channel Hedron - Polaris' origin source - the exact same way Jesse does.
    • Black Rock is a substance that blocks out a lot of paranormal frequencies, making it excellent material for containing OoPs. Darling calls it paranatural lead.
  • Apocalyptic Log:
    • Dr. Casper Darling's video presentations begin as professionally-assembled, if lighthearted infodumps, but the further you go into the game and the deeper down the timeline you adventure into, they start to become more shoddily-produced and clearly more of Darling rambling about his increasing anxieties and worries of a looming potential disaster.
    • During the Mold sidequest, you can find three recordings made by Ramsay, captain of a Ranger team sent to investigate the Pit. Over the course of the recordings, Ramsay and his team can be heard experiencing gradual Sanity Slippage as they succumb to the effects of the Mold, and their remains can be found scattered around their camp in the form of corpses and Mold Hosts.
    • During the Expeditions side quest, you're directed to find two recordings made by Lopez, captain of a Ranger team sent into Quarry Site Beta for a routine expedition. In the first, she's calm and composed; in the second, she's panicking and warning anyone who can hear her to escape, before either dying fighting the Hiss or committing suicide to avoid becoming one herself. Notably, Lopez' logs were originally found in the Pit in place of Ramsay's logs; they were replaced and reused for the Expeditions update.
  • Arbitrary Maximum Range: All of your psychic powers have these. With Seize, it makes sense that you need to be close by; with Levitate, it makes sense that you can't stay in the air indefinitely; with Shield, it makes sense that keeping an impenetrable barrier of debris around yourself is difficult to do for long. But when you Launch something, you simply aren't allowed to aim at something that's outside a certain range; and if you do succeed at dumb-firing the object into them, it clips through them without doing damage. Even if they can shoot at you in return. Or are shooting you in return.
  • Arc Number: Six. Dylan is candidate number six. The highest security pass you get is level six. The mods are graded up to level six, as are enemies you face during the main story missions.
  • Arc Symbol: The upside-down pyramid. It's in the game's promotional material, it's used by the game's UI to mark new documents and mods, it hangs over the first Control Point Jesse purges, it's present in the FBC's logo, and the Board is represented by it.
  • Artifact Collection Agency: Since most AWEs create objects with supernatural powers, the Bureau of Control is mostly concerned with collecting them and storing them in the Oldest House, where they can't endanger humanity at large and can be studied.
  • Artifact of Attraction:
    • One of the Altered Items recovered in a side quest for Langston is a paper lantern that is physically and psychologically attractive. It came to Bureau attention after drawing a lot of publicity for the ramen shop where it served as signage, and Bureau documentation shows the authors succumbing to its effects of inducing some kind of nostalgic comfort. It's found being clustered by the clocks that have flooded the area it ended up in.
    • The VHS tape Altered Item from the Found Footage side quest, created by an attempt of the Foundation to record Ahti without his knowledge. Stuck in a TV playing on loop, anyone (even Astral Mimics) that looks at it becomes entranced. It's impossible to contain because even kept completely hidden by a containment unit, anyone nearby feels compelled break containment and look at it.
  • Artifact of Doom: The Federal Bureau of Control contains any and all extra-dimensional objects or beings that could be a threat to regular people. For instance, there's a refrigerator that, if you look away from it, will "diverge" into another dimension, or a mirror that doesn't show accurate reflections, but what it wants to alter.
  • Artifact of Power: The Altered World Events that the Bureau investigates produce those. They come in two varieties, though both have supernatural abilities:
    • Objects of Power have a connection to the Astral Realm, and can be bound by people, who are then called parautilitarians, to harness their powers. The Service Weapon is the first Object of Power Jesse finds.
    • Altered Items lack this connection to the Astral Plane and cannot be bound, but still have supernatural abilities of their own. The Research Division theorizes that an Altered Item may form a connection to the Astral Realm and become an OoP over time.
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • Hiss enemies aren't too bright in combat, with ranged forms often refraining from attacking Jesse for quite some time after they spawn. If you're quick enough, you can take out many enemies before the first ones even open fire. Their threat mainly stems from their sheer numbers and very strong attacks once they finally do start shooting. Elite Mooks are generally better about this. Considering what the Hiss is, this behavior may fall under some level on the Sliding Scale of Gameplay and Story Integration.
    • One instance where the above works against the player is the "Supportive Staff" achievement that requires you to let a Deployed Ranger kill five enemies. It's easily one of the most annoying achievements to unlock because of how dumb the Ranger AI behaves in combat, rarely shooting at all and often failing to hit the target even when they do.
    • In the third phase of the esseJ fight, their AI completely shuts down if you stand behind a pillar on the second floor of the arena, and they just float in place while you can take pot shots at them willy nilly.
  • Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence: One possibility for what happened to Dr. Darling. He disappears from the facility after exposing himself directly to Hedron's frequency, but is still able to contact Jesse on the Hotline, which is normally reserved for extra-dimensional beings. Emily even theorizes this is what happened to him, since neither he nor his body have been found and he was running quite a lot of secret projects.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: Throughout the game Jesse bemoans being the Director of the FBC since the Service Weapon, a Cool Gun that can switch between five different firing modes, "picked" her at the beginning of the game without her consent, and with it she immediately shows a knack for wiping away the Hiss. Despite being a complete newcomer, she's treated with respect by almost everyone in the Oldest House. It turns out that the Service Weapon picks all Directors, but part of why she got the job was because she already had immense psychic potential due to her interaction with an OoP as a child.
  • Astral Projection: The Astral Realm is entered only with the mind, although it is a real place, and any injury or death in it can cause permanent psychological or psychic damage, up to and including death. Unlike most examples, however, you can only "dive", as the FBC calls it, by coming in contact with particular Objects of Power, such as the X-Ray Light Box.
  • Attack Its Weak Point:
    • The Clog can only be damaged by shooting its whitish-yellow tendrils, which stand out very clearly against its brown texture.
    • The Anchor can only be damaged when it's about to launch an attack. Miss your chance and you will lose a good chunk of your health.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Randomly spawned Hiss minibosses always have names consisting of a rank (civilian or military) and some alphanumerical designation, implying that the strongest Hiss already used to be figures of authority within the FBC before they were corrupted. This is later confirmed when some characters mention that the Hiss makes use of its hosts' innate abilities, resulting in the strongest hosts becoming the Hiss' battlefield commanders and Elite Mooks.
  • Auto-Save: The game auto-saves frequently, but you cannot save or load manually, and loading from somewhere before the latest save means using a Checkpoint, which only occurs when important missions are completed. However, it doesn't save immediately after every relevant action, such as when making Mods though Astral Constructs. When the result is shown, it hasn't saved, so it can be force closed and reloaded to undo the creation. Although, the mods will still have to be refreshed to guarantee a different result. They appear to be set on Refresh.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: One mod type increases the blast radius of Charge's missiles by up to 100%. However, the actual increase appears to be much, much larger than that, with a level VI mod producing a blast that can hit everything in a decently sized room, including Jesse, even when fired at the far wall. It's certainly a useful crowd control tool, but the often cramped conditions you fight in have a nasty tendency to make it more dangerous to Jesse than to her enemies.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Completing the roulette Easter egg in the Luck and Probability department earns Jesse the Gold Suit, a sparkling gold variant of the Directors Suit, itself obtainable by completing the game.
  • Badass Longcoat:
    • Marshall wears what looks like a longer version of a World War II aviator jacket, in contrast to every other FBC employee, who's either in office wear or armored. Could be because she didn't have time to change after she arrived that day, could be because she's a badass.
    • The Asynchronous Suit allows Jesse to don one of these, including some uniquely-styled sleeves.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": Near the entrance to the Field Training obstacle course, you find a letter from an voice actor complaining that his practice run was used as the voiceover for the course, and demanding that this be changed for a proper recording immediately. Once you enter the course and hear his confused monotone, it becomes clear why.
    • Also used in the puppet shows. It's morbidly hilarious how it's done.
  • Baleful Polymorph: One of the Fadens' childhood friends was turned into a dog (or "something like one") by one of the worlds in the Slide Projector, and the FBC believes that "Codename: Dog Neil" is still out there somewhere. In an interview you can find, Dylan thinks that Neil actually prefers being a dog, as he was being bullied at school.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: At the end of the game, Jesse loses the protection of Polaris/Hedron and must fight off the Hiss by herself. While she regains her psychic powers near the end, the battle is fought mostly by mental strength instead: she must overcome the illusion of being a mere office intern at the FBC and directly confront the former director, culminating in mentally pulling the trigger of the Service Weapon that Trench had used to commit suicide.
  • Being Watched:
    • One of Darling's videos discusses rumors surrounding HRAs. He notes that no, they're not used to spy on the Bureau employees and record all their conversations - the Bureau has been spying on them and recording their conversations just fine without them.
    • Played for Drama later, when Jesse finds records of P7, the seventh Prime Candidate, which is to say herself, and realized that the Bureau has been monitoring her movements for years.
      Jesse: All the times I felt paranoid... I was right.
  • Better Manhandle the Murder Weapon: Justified; when finding Trench's corpse and the Service Weapon next to it, Jesse wants to leave it alone and get help, but Polaris tells her to pick up the gun anyway.
  • Big Applesauce: The Oldest House is located in New York City. It's actually greatly inspired by the AT&T Long Lines Building that exists in the real NYC, itself being a place of mystery with its conspicuously Brutalist architecture and rumors of it being a mass surveillance hub for the NSA.
  • Big Bad: The Hiss, a malevolent Eldritch Abomination from "outside" normal reality that is currently attacking the FBC and trying to escape to infect the rest of the world.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: FORMER takes the form of a giant cross between a cockroach and a tardigrade, with each of its leg segments being several times longer than Jesse is tall.
  • Big Good:
    • The Board, the extradimensional overseers of the FBC... Though The Foundation shows that this is somewhat debatable.
    • Polaris, the Good Counterpart to the Hiss and who helps Jesse on her journey to rescue Dylan.
  • Bigger on the Inside: On the outside, the Oldest House doesn't even take up one small block. Within, it's at least the size of a small town.
  • Big Labyrinthine Building: Even disregarding its supernatural properties, the Oldest House is absolutely massive, and getting around it requires a complex map.
  • Bilingual Bonus: If you speak Remedy's native Finnish.
    • Ahti occasionally slips into Finnish, but also uses Finnish idioms translated into English — verbatim, which means they make little to no sense in English. Some are easy enough to guess from context ("hit the facts on the table", "disappear like a fart in Sahara"), others not so much. Translations here.
      jumalauta (God help me), helvetti (Hell), perkele (devil), Saatana (Satan) - Finnish curse words
      throw the spoon in the corner (heittää lusikka nurkkaa) - die
      sheaths gonna rattle (tulee tupenrapinat) - there'll be a fight/someone is going to be punished, physically
      burn it to a reindeer, not a moose - a Pun; "burn it to ashes" is "polta se poroksi", but poro is also reindeer, leading to the joke
    • Various radios, which usually indicate Ahti or his cart are nearby and serve to highlight his related quests, also play Finnish songs or broadcasts (despite this being far, far away from his homeland) — the spoken broadcasts report marine weather off the coast of Finland. Further translation.
    • The Sankarin Tango ("Hero's Tango"), sung by Ahti's actor Martti Suosalo, features a couple of Easter Eggs for previous Remedy games: the first verse is Alan Wake ("'Once, I mistook a lake for an ocean,' he recited the poem", paraphrasing the esoteric final line of the game), the second Quantum Break ("Time shatters, a shot echoes into eternity / he will never get a happy ending"), while the chorus is a meta reference to video games in general:
      Alone the hero travels deeper into the night
      This burden on his shoulders would be there always, like a promise
      In the game this fool is beaten again and again
      But only a moment of rest in death is given, already having to return
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Hiss are no longer able to pass through into our reality when Jesse destroys the Slide Projector, and humanity is saved. Unfortunately, not only did far too many good people die in the process thanks to Trench's Sanity Slippage, but the Hiss is still infesting the Oldest House and must be slowly exorcised by Jesse and Polaris one Control Point at a time until the lockdown can be lifted and everything can go back to some kind of normal. Oh, and while Jesse was able to free her brother Dylan from the Hiss' influence, it also put him into a coma, and it's unknown if he'll ever wake up.
    • In The Foundation, Jesse succeeds in saving the Oldest House, the Astral Plane, and pretty much all of reality, but Marshall is dead, and Jesse's faith in the Board is permanently shattered, for better or for worse.
  • Bizarrchitecture:
    • The geometry of the Oldest House shifts as the game goes on, with new paths becoming available and doors appearing where they weren't before. This helps the Game/House guide the player towards the next goal. It's also creepy.
    • When an area has been overtaken by the Hiss, it's even crazier, with what seems to be multiple instances of the same level geometry overlaid against each other — most easily seen when Jesse purifies a Control Point and the walls recede into something logical.
    • Documentation states that the radio dishes you find scattered around the place and surrounding the Control Points are there to stabilize areas that have shifted before and hopefully prevent them from doing so again.
  • Black Boss Lady: Helen Marshall, the Head of Operations, is a no-nonsense black woman.
  • Black Speech: The Board speaks in radio noise, but has subtitles in English. After experiencing them, Jesse lampshades the fact that she somehow understood them. When she encounters FORMER, she says it sounds like the Board, but she can't understand it.
  • Bland-Name Product:
    • Ahti has a Pony Walkman.
    • The vending machines sell literal Bland Name Products, all in plain white packaging and names that say only what's inside, possibly to either prevent people from accidentally eating an OoP or making sure that no new Altered Items end up being created out of them since any sufficiently well-known iconography (ie. normal packaging featuring a mascot character) can end up producing one, especially due to Oldest House's strong connection to the Astral Plane.
    • Averted with Darling's presentation on the Hotline, where he uses the trademarked term "Ouija Board" as opposed to the more generic "Spirit Board".
    • You can find a report in the AWE DLC about a Frank Elk (John Deere) brand tractor that became an Altered Item but was never caught.
  • Blank White Void: The Astral Plane. The only features it has are the black pyramid representing the Board and the polished marble-like blocks (also black, with golden veins) it generates for visitors to stand on. Astralnauts have supposedly noticed other native lifeforms, but the Board's specific domain is the only one you get to visit. Except for Former's area, the setting for two Bonus Boss fights.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: The main cast's female characters fit this mold - Emily is blonde, Marshall is brunette and Jesse is the redhead.
  • Blunt Metaphors Trauma: Ahti sometimes uses Finnish idioms translated directly into English, adding to the Cloudcuckoolander vibe he gives off.
  • Bomb Whistle: The Hiss Charged make loud whistling sounds as they get closer to exploding, which is a good cue that you need to put some distance between you and them.
  • Bonus Boss: Quite a few. It should be noted that while none of them must be beaten to advance the story, they're the only enemies that drop a specific crafting resource that's required to upgrade Service Weapon forms to level 3.
    • Tommasi, originally fought in the Mail Room as the boss of the Communications Department, can be re-fought in Containment after the game, with a massive boost in power, as well as now being armored and able to summon Hiss mooks.
    • FORMER, encountered during Fridge Duty, is an entity that seems to be similar to The Board, and is capable of linking itself to Altered Items as opposed to Objects of Power, making it very dangerous. You fight it again trying to cleanse the Pink Flamingo in Langston's Runaways.
    • The Anchor, encountered in An Enemy Within. It's a ship's anchor that is somehow spitting out thousands of clocks in the Sealed Threshold within Containment. This is especially odd, seeing as according to the FBC's reports, not even The Anchor's typical abilities as an Altered Item encompass this kind of behavior.
    • esseJ, encountered in Self-Reflection, is a mirror version of Jesse with access to the Spin and Charge modes of the Service Weapon, as well as Launch, Shield, and Levitate. Beating her gives you access to the Asynchronous Outfit.
    • MOLD-1, a tentacled mass of Mold which exists in the Pit below Central Research. You fight it as part of the Old Growth quest, and on your way, you fight level 9 enemies— by that point in the game, the highest you should have encountered is level 4 or 5. It is definitely meant to be a late/endgame boss.
  • Boring, but Practical: Launch fulfills this from a gameplay standpoint. You get it early in the game and can abuse it until the Final Battle, as it can One-Hit Kill basic mooks without much trouble. Zigzagged in that the visual spectacle of smashing foes to the floor with a cabinet, dust and splinters and loose paper flying everywhere, probably qualifies as Simple, yet Awesome instead; critics have heaped praise on just how satisfying it is to use Launch in combat.
    • Grip (the "pistol") qualifies amongst the gun types. Respectable damage (particularly when upgraded) and accuracy, along with a generous ammo reserve make it an always-useful option throughout the game. By doing an unmarked sidequest, you can obtain an Infinity+1 Mod for it that grants a 100% chance to refund one round of ammo every time you hit an enemy with it, effectively granting Bottomless Magazines for as long as you don't miss. Its sole weakness is against enemy shields, but Launch trivializes those.
  • Boss Arena Urgency: Every time FORMER strikes the ground with its arms, it punches a hole straight through the arena to the Bottomless Pit below. Once it gets low on heath, it stops shooting orbs at you and only attacks with its arms, meaning you better kill it very quickly before you run out of room to dodge.
  • Bottomless Magazines: The Service Weapon regenerates ammo when not being fired. A Justified Trope, as it is a psychically bound weapon, so it presumably regenerates ammo through the user's significant psychic prowess allowing them to believe it should be reloading, on top of the fact that it hasn’t always been a gun. Several mods have a chance to give you a bullet back every time you hit an enemy, and the secret Eternal Fire mod for Grip guarantees you a bullet back, allowing you to keep blasting away forever as long as you're accurate.
  • Bottomless Pits: "Firebreaks" are the name for these imposing gigantic doors installed between sensitive areas in certain sectors. Between them is a narrow bridge and a seemingly endless chasm that goes up and down for what looks like infinity. The FBC uses them to close off areas that it has deemed too dangerous to normally pass through. They may all actually be one Firebreak as evidenced by multiple bridges being visible when crossing one, and the eldritch nature of the Oldest House makes the same Firebreak connect to multiple containment areas and access points despite not being in-line with each other.
  • Bread Milk Eggs Squick: The list of places that the FBC remade in their Ordinary model in Containment, that Jesse lists ends with "the dump". Which is on a second line in the subtitles:
    Jesse: It's all here: our home, our school, the woods.
    Jesse: The dump.
  • Brick Joke: As seen under Shout-Out, Jesse's opening monologue is built around a metaphor based on a prison movie she can't remember the name of. After beating the game and starting the postgame, Jesse finally remembers it was The Shawshank Redemption, then immediately declares that it's not important she remembered it.
  • Broken Bridge: Unbreakable rocks block the path beyond the beginning of Security in the Containment Sector until the main story's "My Brother's Keeper" Mission is started, since it requires Jesse travel deeper into Containment.
  • Call-Back:
    • Early on, Jesse attempts to purge the Hiss from an employee with Polaris's help, but can't. At the end, she does the same thing with Dylan in the exact same pose. Dylan is left comatose, but is seemingly free of the Hiss.
    • During AWE, Langston suggests using Christmas lights as armor against the Thing That Was Once Hartman. Since the FBC has extremely in-depth files of the Bright Falls AWE and interviewed numerous participants (such as Barry, Sarah Breaker, etc.) it's very likely that he remembers this tidbit from an interview.
  • The Cameo:
  • Canon Welding: Multiple elements in this game confirm it's set in the same universe as Alan Wake, and the foundation of a future Remedy Connected Universe:
    • Late-game documents you can find detail the Bureau investigating the "Bright Falls Incident" in which writer Alan Wake's stories ended up having an AWE effect on the town, changing the local area into whatever Wake wrote. Alan's body was never found, though it's likely due to his attempts to escape the Dark Place. One of Alan's pages, pushed beneath a door in the Oceanview, is an OoP; finding it triggers a monologue of his.
    • Ahti provides Jesse with a cassette tape that plays a song produced by Old Gods of Asgard, the rock band Alan briefly encounters in Bright Falls. You can also find an album of theirs in a car in the Ordinary dump, with Jesse mentioning that she's loved them ever since she was a kid and found her dad's old music collection.
    • In an environmental conversation, Langston grouses about the Hiss and containment breaches forcing him to miss the opening of a movie; specifically, The Sudden Stop, based on Alan's last book. Apparently, his work got even more popular after his disappearance.
    • One document details the Bureau using mass media to present the abnormal as fictional, keeping the public in the dark about the things it studies, or to at least misdirect them about what's really going on (it's implied that America Overnight is part of this misinformation campaign). As such, they're interested in acquiring the rights to Night Springs, given its paranormal subject matter and the recent trend of classic properties being rebooted.
    • Another document found in Dead Letters talks about a man who has a dream very similar to the one Alan experiences at the start of Alan Wake, where he sees a dark town with a lake in the center, and is woken by a bright light.
    • During one of her therapy recordings, Jesse's psychologist mentions Jesse's affinity for a poem by one Thomas Zane, the poet who wrote himself out of existence decades ago. The psychologist even mentions that she has been unable to find any other trace of Zane or his work; it's left unexplained how exactly Jesse came across his poem in her youth.
    • The Title Card for the second DLC takes some obvious cues from the original cover art for Alan Wake.
    • Crossing over with a Mythology Gag, Both Control and Alan Wake have an opening monologue centered around Stephen King, with Wake outright namedropping the author, while Jesse talks about how she views the world via a metaphor involving The Shawshank Redemption, the original novella of which was written by King.
    • Jesse's hometown, Ordinary, was first mentioned in Alan Wake's American Nightmare, in a backmasked message in "Balance Slays The Demon."
    • This all culminates in the heavy implication in the AWE DLC that Jesse was created by Alan himself as a "protagonist" who will eventually be able to defeat the Dark Presence.
    • Another offhanded reference in the AWE DLC comes from Langston, who compares his Giftedly Bad music-slash-poetry to a combination of Sylvia Plath and My Bleeding Clock, a band also mentioned in Quantum Break.
  • Cardiovascular Love: A Heart Symbol, presumbly a sticker, seals the Moving Letters which are, as the picture and description show / say:
    covered in messages of love
  • Cassette Futurism: The game heavily falls into this aesthetic. The Federal Bureau of Control specifically forbids "anything smart" (including cell phones) from being brought into the Oldest House, and there are even posters warning employees of the Bureau to be on the lookout for modern technology because it does not react well to the supernatural phenomena within. The desktop computers are big and bulky in the style of an early '80s "micro" or IBM PC, mainframes are absolutely huge and covered in analog switches and blinkenlights, the Bureau uses reel-to-reels and film projectors, data is transferred between departments via an immense pneumatic tube system (even if it does lose things sometimes), and even the firearms used by Agents and Rangers are outdated. Nothing can be seen in use that dates back to later than the 1970s or '80s.
  • Catch and Return: You can do this with Launch against explosive projectiles that Hiss-infested mooks can send your way after you get the upgrade for it.
  • Censored for Comedy: Some of the FBC documents have portions or even large chunks redacted in ridiculous ways, such as the infamous "Security Order" document from the start. Of course, Control being what it is, where those documents land on the Sliding Scale of Comedy and Horror is largely up to the player.
  • Central Theme: Control, and what it means to be in control of one's self and others.
    • Jesse is reluctant to take up her role as Director, repeatedly saying that she prefers background jobs like Ahti's role as a janitor and that she has no experience in leadership roles, feeling vastly under-qualified. Furthermore, she feels like her life's been out of control ever since Ordinary happened, and it was implied she was confined to a psych ward. Polaris, the entity inside of her, has acted as a guide for most of her life, telling her what to do, and when she seemingly dies, Jesse has a Heroic BSoD, as she feels like she has no control anymore, and starts succumbing to the Hiss. By the end of the game, Jesse realizes that Polaris was inside her all along, and she has to take control over not only the Bureau, but her own life. She asserts that she is the Director, and the Board empowers her to one-hit Level 30 enemies.
    • On the other side of the coin, Trench's need for certainty and control in all aspects of the Oldest House and the FBC led to him entering Slidescape 36, where he was exposed to The Hiss. The Hiss's manipulation made him paranoid, and he felt he was losing control over the Bureau, especially Darling, one of the few people he felt he could trust. There's also Northmoor, whose obsession with and lust for power (mostly through binding OoPs) made him like a "living explosion" in the words of Trench. This turns out to be very literal, as it turns out that the NSC of the NSC Power Plant stands for "Northmoor Sarcophagus Container". He's inside the power plant, perpetually on fire and providing power to the whole building.
  • Chain Letter: Jesse finds an old chain letter in Investigations, and on a whim decides to follow its instructions, making three copies and sending them to random people. She does get lucky, as the letter promises — completing the quest gives her the unique Spin mod Spam Mail.
  • The Chains of Commanding: The FBC routinely handles things that are both incredibly dangerous and incredibly powerful. Both Northmoor and Trench experienced how incredibly mentally taxing it is being in charge of something like that, and it is something Jesse struggles with.
  • Chaos Architecture: The Oldest House doesn't shift the contents of its rooms around in-game but it's stated to do so on a semi-regular basis; only the technology of the FBC and the good graces of the Board keep things relatively normal. The most we see of it in action is when cleansing a Control Point causes a room's altered geometry to return to normal.
  • Chest Monster: Mercifully, it only occurs once in the base game: a single (and very conspicuously-placed) loot chest in the Panopticon will not net you goodies, but a point-blank Hiss Charged, as well as a signal for more Hiss mooks toward your area. Happens once again in The Foundation in a more cramped area to boot.
  • Chickification: Used deliberately as a psychological tactic by the Hiss: the final level starts with the Hiss invoking a Mind Rape on Jesse, wherein she is a shy, demure, and easily bullied new hire of the Bureau. The illusion also includes a version of Emily who's a ditzy, boy crazy secretary, instead of a brilliant scientist with a friendship of an ambiguous nature with Jesse. Once Jesse breaks free of the Hiss' influence, she immediately goes back to her more forceful normal self.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Dr. Underhill diagnoses Darling with this, stating that he always feels the need to be the one who solves any trouble plaguing the Bureau.
  • The Chooser of the One: The Board is tasked with assessing if someone has what it takes to wield the Service Weapon. Or, in their own words:
    You must choose to be the chosen one.
  • The Chosen Many: The Prime Candidates are people who have psychic potential that could allow them to become the Director, and as such, FBC tries to recruit or collect them. This being said, there can only be one Director at a time.
  • Cigarette of Anxiety: Even though he's dead, you always see Trench smoking in Jesse's visions— given the content of his monologues, it can be assumed he's smoking one of these. Then again, it may very well be the Cigar which forms one half of the Ashtray Object of Power...
  • Classified Information: Almost all documents you find have black bars censoring out some of the information, leaving half of them as Noodle Incidents.
  • Closed Circle: Nobody can leave the Oldest House as long as lockdown is in effect, and the lockdown can't be lifted until the Hiss is all cleared — the fact that Jesse was able to enter the building at all is enough to raise eyebrows among staff. By the end of the game, you may have closed the portal the Hiss are coming in from, but the ones that already came through are still in the Oldest House, so the circle remains closed.
  • Cloudcuckoolander:
    • Ahti the janitor is quite the space cadet. This being said, a lot of what he says does end up making sense, albeit from a slightly different angle.
    • Another example, from AWE: the mysteriously manifested fourth Apollo 12 astronaut held in the Fra Mauro AWE sector. Also a more severe example, given everything he says is just barely comprehensible, referring to researchers as "gerbils", or just saying "Spider time!" with no context. Although he does seem to have improved at communicating compared to when he first entered containment.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Almost every character drops a “fuck” or “shit” throughout the game, occasionally one right after the other. Jesse herself has no issues dropping an f-bomb whenever the time is right.
  • Color Motif:
    • Red. Jesse is red-headed, red is the main color of the game's logo, and the Hiss-overtaken areas are bathed in hideous red light.
    • Blue represents Polaris, the entity accompanying Jesse. She's a calming influence against the Hiss' Mystical Plague, and considers herself to be Hiss' enemy.
    • Orange represents the Oceanview Motel, leaking through wherever there's a cord to be pulled and transported there. It's usually bathed in what seems to be the warm orange sunlight of a desert morning.
    • Black and white represent the Board, with their inhuman, sterile shapes and the binary nature of their tests.
    • Grey represents Dylan, showing how he's been raised in a cold, sterile, and loveless environment that has warped him into a near-sociopath.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Hiss Rangers have bright yellow straps on their harnesses and black helmets while the still sane FDC Rangers have white straps and helmets.
  • Combat Tentacles: Mold-1, the Bonus Boss in the Mold Pit, attacks Jesse with three tentacles, which can additionally fire projectiles.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Dead Letters has several documents written by them, describing outlandish scenarios from planes actually being on invisible roller coaster tracks to smoking being a way to keep aliens from taking over the world.
  • Continuing is Painful: Dying respawns you at the last control point you used, which can be quite a jog from where you were killed even if it was the closest one, but what can really hurt is the 10% of your Source you lose every time you bite it. Boss fights are also reset completely if you die, forcing you start over from scratch.
  • Cool Guns: FBC Rangers exclusively wield Lewis guns, a bulky machine gun from the World War I era, and they use them like assault rifles despite the Lewis weighing in at 28 pounds / 13 kilograms.
    • A closer look at the grip and receiver shows that they're based on the M240/FN MAG, which while more modern is still a 10-12.5 kg (22-28 pound) machine gun, before adding the Lewis gun's distinctive, bulky cooling sleeve.
  • Copycat Mockery: A rather subtle, deadpan example appears in the Foundation DLC, when FORMER provides Jesse with either Shape or Fracture, depending on which ability she originally didn't choose, and Jesse gets into an argument with the Board about it.
    Jesse: I don't like you deciding what I can slash can't have.
  • Cosmic Keystone:
    • As the Bureau deals with reality-warping artifacts and events, many of them have the potential to cause the End of the World as We Know It if they go out of control, and even the Oldest House itself is theorized to be one throughout all of time and existence.
    • Foundation gives us a more direct example in the Nail, a massive obsidian pillar that binds the Astral Plane to the Oldest House.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: Given that it's a Spiritual Sequel to Alan Wake, it makes sense that it has some elements of this trope.
  • Covert Group with Mundane Front: Officially, the FBC is a liaison between other federal agencies.
  • Creepy Monotone: Dylan during his Hannibal Lectures.
  • Cryptic Background Reference: A lot of events only mentioned in often gratuitously-redacted documents easily come off as this, especially in the case of most non-story-related Altered Items and Altered World Events, whose backgrounds are only barely mentioned in passing. In certain cases, there's enough information to at least cobble together a vague overview.
    • The Willow AWE especially. Apart from how the FBC covered it up, the only other info about it is a list of Noodle Implements (including a hollow stone sphere and a rusted bucket) and a list of seemingly-disconnected words to use and to not use when drafting death notices, the implication being that it had a high death toll for the FBC. One such notice can be found, confirming that at least one agent died during the incident.
    • The Sterling AWE gets a whole area in the Containment Sector to itself, yet almost nothing is actually revealed about it.
    • A particular Noodle Incident is mentioned in the "Security Order" collectible, with almost everything redacted except for something about a shark and security personnel getting authorized to "shoot to kill."
    • An airplane found in the Containment Sector, which according to some documents is at the center of an unspecified event which happened in Cincinnati.
    • In the AWE DLC, the events surrounding Keystone (only mentioned in the "Keystone Inspection" collectible.) Even more cryptic is that a symbol found in the town is described as identical to a symbol on one of the doors in the Oceanview Motel.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: On consoles, Circle/B is used for exiting menus, and for dashing in the world. You turn the map on and off with Up on the D-pad. All of the movement controls remain active when the map is on, so if you try to turn it off with Circle/B, you will find yourself unexpectedly dashing.
    • Players who are used to shooters where they can select a weapon with a number key, on the PC version, may find themselves jamming down 1-5 and wondering why it's not working. This is because Jesse can only equip two modes at any time, and the option to switch between them is, by default, F — the use key.
  • Darker and Edgier: In both the literal and figurative sense. The AWE DLC not only has Jesse taking on the Hiss, but also a mutated Taken-Hiss Hartman who's clearly not himself, Alan Wake's ominous messages to her and being plunged in darkness for most of the event. The DLC can get straight-up creepy with its atmosphere and the chances of Jesse dying get taken Up to Eleven if the player isn't careful. While not without its humorous moments, the DLC takes itself far more seriously than the base game and the weird moments are often played for horror rather than shock and/or Black Comedy.
  • Darkness Equals Death: Integrated as a major gameplay aspect of AWE, borrowing similar behavior to how it's done in Alan Wake. Each time you encounter The Third Thing (an amalgamation of Dr. Hartman, the Hiss, and The Dark Presence), it's Nigh-Invulnerable while in darkness, and while it's weak to light and Jesse can remain safe within illuminated areas, its presence is strong enough to kill smaller lights to make that not much of an option (standing in its darkness also continuously drains your energy). The only option to "fight" it for the most part is to find ways to turn the much bigger floodlights on, which involves safely maneuvering through dark rooms with only brief patches of illumination.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: As children, Jesse and Dylan found an old projector in a landfill, which began to open gateways to other realities. In her words, things came through, and other than Polaris, all were hostile. Eventually, the kids managed to shut it off, but the FBC stepped in and took Dylan away. Jesse then spent seventeen years on the run, searching for a way to understand what happened.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Ahti, and it's not just because of his stilted English. He is also this when he slips to Finnish.
    • Jesse manages to keep the snark contained to her internal monologue, but she also has her moments.
  • Deflector Shields: Some Hiss units, particularly the stronger ones, are surrounded by what Pope refers to as dense Hiss resonance, which acts like a shield you have to destroy before you can start chipping away at their health pool. The shielding (called armor by the game itself) is extremely resistant to attacks from the Service Weapon but takes massive damage from Launched objects, usually going down in one hit with damage to spare for the health bar underneath.
  • Deliberately Different Description:
    • The Mission descriptions. This occurs when the Missions are self-explanatory:
      • The "What a Mess: Take a Break" Mission, where as Jesse lampshades the lack of description and the obviousness of the quest, and how it takes place in the room where she receives it. It doesn't even note on the map where its supposed to take place, assuming that players will immediately complete it because it's so easy, as otherwise they would have no hints beyond the name on how to complete it.
        Jesse: I guess I just, take a seat?
      • The "Take Control" mission has no long description, which uses Federal Bureau of Control letterhead, in the Missions section of the menu because its provided by the Heads-Up Display information instead, when the tasks are activated, and those same tasks are listed in the Mission's shortened description, which is a barebones description of the task.
    • The "Untapped Potential" Conceptual Material is described as "Anomaly", instead of the Sector / Event where it's received like others, because it comes from Mini Bosses, without defined location.
  • Denser and Wackier: In a more serious sense. Compared to other Remedy works, Control can get straight up weird with its world-building and mythos, with many a Noodle Incident, OOPs that take the shape of childish items, everything about the Bureau's Threshold Kids and much much more.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Several bosses are eldritch horrors Jesse and the player have to defeat. Jesse and her brother Dylan also did this during the Ordinary Incident, managing to defeat an entity called the 'Not-Mother' and send her back to her dimension.
  • Developers' Foresight: If you die during the Ashtray Maze, "Take Control" transitions back to roughly where it was before you died.
  • Differently Powered Individual:
    • Parautilitarians for people who bond the OoPs.
    • Astralnauts for people who use Astral Projection to explore the Astral Plane.
  • Dimensional Traveler: Both Polaris and the Hiss are this, having come into our reality through the Slide Projector.
  • Double-Meaning Title:
    • Control refers to the Federal Bureau of Control, of course, but also about the different ways people look for control in their lives, and how that control is often just a comforting illusion. Trench talks about how Northmoor, his predecessor as Director, became obsessed with accumulating personal power, abusing his authority and binding ever more OoPs, but Trench turned into a Control Freak in his own right, keeping secrets, sowing mistrust, and making sure no one else had too much control. Both men came to believe that sacrifices were necessary and people were expendable in the name of order and safety. Jesse, meanwhile, is just looking to find her brother and take back control of their lives, then her newfound powers; she specifically doesn't want control of the Bureau. Over the course of the game, Character Development sees her grow into her new role and decide a little control isn't a bad thing, as long as the FBC doesn't lose sight of the people they're meant to protect.
      • Additionally, on a more subtle level, control can also refer to the "control group" in a scientific experiment, where one group is intentionally not tested upon to serve as a basis for comparison. More specifically, Jesse is left to mature without FBC interference as a control while her little brother Dylan is experimented upon and raised by the FBC. Here, this makes Jesse the control for the experiments that Trench, Darling, and the FBC ran on Dylan.
    • The Foundation is a Shout-Out to the SCP Foundation, whose influence the game wears on its sleeve. It's also referencing the (meta)physical foundations of the Oldest House, the stone on which it is built in the form of the caverns located beneath the "roots" (the columns where Ahti can be found taking his vacation during "Finnish Tango") of the building. Finally, the DLC delves into the historical foundation of the current incarnation of the Bureau, when it first encountered the Oldest House and the Board, and gained its first Board-appointed Director, Northmoor, as opposed to one selected by the US government.
  • Do Well, But Not Perfect: In "personnel protection" type alerts your goal is to keep three Bureau combatants alive while wave after wave of Hiss attack. Specifically, you have to keep them alive for a certain period of time, while new waves spawn in once the last one is dealt with. Thus it is beneficial to stretch waves out by leaving one last Hiss alive rather than try to kill everything as quickly as possible.
  • Dug Too Deep: The extradimensional version of this occurs when Darling uses the Projector to enter an alternate universe and accidentally exposes Trench, and hence the FBC, to the Hiss.
  • Ear Worm: The Hiss incantation mentions ear worms by name. Even after a brief exposure, Jesse compares the Hiss to a song that runs through your head over and over until you can't help singing along.
  • Easily Forgiven: The Bureau in general. After they kidnapped Dylan and abused him for years until they drove him to psychosis (and murder), spied on Jesse for her entire life since Ordinary with an eye to abduct her at first and then just gaslighting her into thinking she imagined her childhood events, and caused countless horrible deaths by trying to control things they shouldn't have, Jesse is totally happy to put all the blame on Director Trench and work with them with only a few reservations about it. One reason for this may be the way Trench's and Darling's machinations after the Ordinary AWE were classified to most everyone and ethically/legally unacceptable even by the Bureau standards.note  Also helpful is that, by the time the Hiss invasion settles down, everyone directly involved is either dead or no longer a part of the universe as we know it.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: During your final confrontation with Dylan, the Board grants you the power to overwhelm level 30 enemies. The strongest enemies you'll see in the normal game are level 6.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Pretty much anything that isn't an uncorrupted human is one, with varying degrees of power and sentience. The Board and the Hiss are the most obvious examples, but then there's also the Astral Spikesnote , FORMERnote , Mold-1note , Polarisnote , and, probably, Ahti.
  • Eldritch Location:
    • The Oldest House is...not a normal building. You can't see it unless you're specifically looking for it (despite being one of the tallest buildings in the city), it shifts constantly, rituals are required to enter certain areas, it connects to other dimensions, and it's implied to be infinite in size. Its bizarre nature even extends beyond the physical building, as one document mentions that as long as the FBC is headquartered in the House, their budget will always be approved because they just appear as another unremarkable line item reviewed and signed off by a lowly accountant. No surprise that one of the game's inspirations was House of Leaves.
    • The documents and reports strewn around the House imply that there are numerous locations like that throughout the US, called Places of Power.
    • The Oceanview Motel & Casino, which can be accessed via lightswitch cords hanging in random places around the Oldest House and beyond. Every time you visit it, some new brand of weirdness is happening inside. It might be another interdimensional crossing point, being full of mysterious locked doors, but the only one people have ever been able to find the keys to is the one that leads back into House. It's suggested to be a sort of shared dream, rather than a physical location... but then one time you go to it you can hear a husband and wife outside wondering why the hell this motel is locked up tight in the middle of the day, which complicates things even more.
  • The Elevator from Ipanema: Upon entering the Oceanview Motel for at least the first time, the song on the radio is very derivative of The Girl from Ipanema. As the Motel seems to be a sort of crossing point between places, it kinda qualifies as a type of elevator.
  • Elite Mooks: Occasionally, you'll come across a Hiss unit that's named but is also not a boss. They hit harder and have more health and armor than a typical Hiss, and they're more often than not a heavy unit.
  • Enfant Terrible: While it's uncertain how much the Bureau's mistreatment and the Hiss incursion is responsible for Dylan's current actions, you can find a recording of Darling's made when Dylan was still a kid in which he's trying to smooth over the fact that Dylan murdered one of the Bureau employees.
  • Enforced Technology Levels: The Oldest House doesn't play well with anything newer than the 1980s: anything newer than that either malfunctions or explodes violently. Smartphones aren't allowed past the lobby, computers all have green CRT monitors, Darling's presentations were made using film cameras as opposed to digital, audio is recorded with reel-to-reel recorders, all of the photographs on the containment reports are in black and white, and the Bureau uses a network of pneumatic tubes for communication as opposed to e-mail. The most modern piece of tech in the building is probably Ahti's Walkman and the cassettes it plays. Even then, there's an implication that it is an Object of Power that he lets Jesse borrow.
  • Enigmatic Empowering Entity: The Board is responsible for assessing the new Director. What criteria they're using is completely unknown even to the Bureau employees, but whoever passes their test gets access to the Service Weapon.
  • Enemy Civil War: The AWE DLC makes it clear that the Hiss and the 'Shade' aka The Dark Presence do not get along, with The-Thing-That-Had-Been-Hartman repeatedly attacking other Hiss. Alan's narration implies that even Hartmann's new mutated, monstrous form is the result of both entities effectively fighting for control over his body.
  • Escort Mission: A sidequest involving rescuing Ranger medic Wells is played out as this, where you must lead him back through a Threshold area to his fallen comrade against a few hordes of Hiss mooks. Mercifully, he's both invincible and armed, allowing him to contribute to fights and Draw Aggro.
  • Establishing Series Moment: The entire opening of the game gives us an impression of what you're supposed to expect. After an Opening Monologue where our protagonist compares The Shawshank Redemption to the Platonic Cave (while forgetting the movie's name), she finds an empty office building with documents containing vague and unusual information before meeting a creepy, mind-reading janitor who acts like he was expecting you and instructs you to take an elevator that wasn't there before. This establishes the setting as a supposedly mundane building with supernatural properties, its odd sense of humor and a sense of eerie suspense that haunts you throughout the game.
  • Event Flag: The first control point in Containment can't be cleansed until the plot has progressed far enough. You just don't get the prompt to do so.
  • Every Engineer Is From MIT: Two unnamed NPCs you can find in the HRA lab can be overheard discussing where they graduated from. The first mentions being from MIT, and the other is quick to note he is also from MIT.
  • Everyone Has Standards: The Bureau may be involved with a lot of shady things but even they will not tamper with the Reality Warper powers of the Dark Presence. Discovering what Hartman had tried to do, and perceiving him as a threat, the Bureau confiscated his research, property and revoked his medical license to prevent him from conducting any more unethical experiments.
  • Everything Breaks: Basically every free-standing object can be hurled by Launch, ping-ponged into by an object hurled by Launch, or damaged through the use of Evade near to them. You can even pull chunks of concrete out of the walls and floor if you're out of nearby doodads. Shows Damage may not apply to the walls — the pulled-out chunk of concrete may repair itself — but when you toss it into a room full of desks and cabinets and computers and loose paper and all of it goes flying, you won't care. There are also some hidden rooms that are only accessible by ripping the wall between you and them to pieces.
  • Exact Words:
    • According to Trench in one of his visions, one of the Director Northmoor's most important duties is to "keep the lights on". Thermal power derived from Northmoor in the NSC is what provides electricity to the Oldest House.
    • The Consecutive Kills Boost weapon mods increase damage after kills. This applies to all kills, not just enemy kills like the Board Countermeasures require. Meaning that the passive Hiss Agents are still valid kills.
  • Executive Ball Clicker: In keeping with the "creepy, supernatural bureaucracy" vibe of the Oldest House, there are Newton's Cradles on many desks throughout the game that Jesse can interact with to make them start bouncing.
  • Explosive Stupidity: A lesson new players will almost certainly learn the hard way is to be really careful with explosives, because if Jesse happens to get caught up in explosion, including ones she created through Charge or by Launching an explosive object, it will hurt.
  • Expy: Former looks like across between the Combine Advisor and the Pit Worm.
  • False Reassurance: Darling wants Bureau employees to know that they are not being surveilled through HRAs. The Bureau has plenty of other ways to accomplish that.
  • Fanservice: The PS4-exclusive Astral Dive suit is noticeably form fitting.
  • Festering Fungus: The lower levels of the Research Wing are infested with an otherdimensional fungus that came through a Threshold. It grows over everything, including people.
  • Fission Mailed: When Hedron is destroyed, Jesse is taken over by the Hiss, and the credits roll, getting more and more corrupted by the Hiss' Madness Mantra before the screen goes completely white. Then the real endgame begins.
  • Fixing the Game: In the Luck and Probability lab, Jesse can solve a puzzle where she has to make a roulette wheel land on 7 by using a sufficient number of methods. Some of which are placing a Four-Leaf Clover next to the wheel, using Feng Shui involving a fish statue, not standing on the red carpet and turning on all lights in the room, something which a document notes is a gambler's superstition. Doing this puzzle will unlock the Golden Suit, two Ability Points, and some Mods. (And failing it will make things randomly explode around you, or just turn on the fire sprinklers)
  • Flash Step:
    • Bonding the Merry-Go-Round Horse lets Jesse quickly dash in any given direction, other than up and down.
    • The Hiss Clusters compensate for not being able to fire back at you by quickly teleporting a short distance whenever they take some damage.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge: In the upgrade tree for Shield is "Shield Rush", which enables a combo attack with Shield + Evade. Further combos with levitate enable doing this in the air, doing massive damage to the flying Hiss thralls.
  • Force-Field Door: Whenever you enter a combat arena room, the passages out are barred by red blocks of Hiss resonance that documents claim are fueled by the energy of Hiss entities surrounding it. This means you have to kill all enemies in the room to open them. Later, there are also blocks held in place by Hiss structures you have to track down and destroy.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In Maintenance, when you first meet Arish, you can find a memo discussing a beer-and-cards night he has with several friends. These friends turn out to be his Ranger buddies from the "Old Friends" sidequest.
    • Upon entering the Oldest House, the player will shortly come across a huge monument to Dr. Theodore Ash, proclaiming "For who among us has touched the foundations of this world and deemed them solid?". His son, Dr. Theodore Ash Jr., has his audio logs prominently featured in the backstory to The Foundation DLC.
    • In-universe, the Bureau Book Bunch book club gets this from a book they read ("Unless You") which predicts exactly how each of them die after the Hiss invade.
    • Despite appearing to just be nonsensical Word-Salad Horror on the surface, several lines in the Hiss Incantation actually turn out to have a surprising amount of relevance to the game's plot.
      • "Through a mirror, inverted is made right" - Jesse journeying into the Victorian Mirror Altered Item, and fighting her Evil Counterpart "esseJ" in the resulting Mirror World.
      • "You gave us the permission in your regulations" and "You've taken your boss with your boss with you" - After the initial Red Herrings that Dylan Faden and/or Dr. Darling were somehow responsible for the Hiss's invasion, it later turns out a brainwashed Trench - the previous FBC Director - was the one who helped the Hiss get into the Oldest House.
      • "Under the conceptual reality behind this reality you must want these waves to drag you away" - Later, when Jesse meets with Ahti in the Foundation, the sound of waves crashing on the shore can be heard in the background along with the illusion that Jesse is walking along a sunset beach. This can also be seen as Foreshadowing how Ahti is implied to be the Finnish sea god of the same name.
      • "Orange peel" - Eventually, the Hiss "kills" Hedron by literally tearing the structure apart in a manner similar to peeling an orange.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: Certain Objects Of Power are able to change their shape and appearance, seemingly based on the collective unconscious of the current era. The FBC theorizes that the Service Weapon was Excalibur, Mjolnir, and Varunastra at different points in history, and currently takes the form of a handgun in the present day.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: No matter the language you choose for dialogues, the Hiss incantation will always be made in your language to make sure you will understand what it saysnote . It works based on the settings.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Hiss Distorted are very difficult to study due to their Visible Invisibility cloak even when Seized, but taking screenshots at the right moment led to someone discovering that they're wearing impressive Combat Stilettos.
  • Full-Contact Magic: Jesse's melee attack is actually a telekinetic blast focused through her punch, increasing its power and range. As she winds up and collects her power, small objects nearby get pulled towards her.
  • Fun with Acronyms:
    • The Bureau calls the supernatural happenings AWEs, or Altered World Events. It's probably also not a coincidence that those three letters in that order appear in the name Alan WakE — with a document back in Quantum Break referring to The Alan Wake Experience.
    • Some AWEs produce OoPs, or Objects of Power.
  • Game-Breaking Bug:
    • A bug exists in the game meaning you can't pick up Corrupted Samples, a rare material used to craft the Level 2 upgrade for Spin — without unlocking that, you can't unlock the final stage of the Service Weapon upgrades, making the late game a lot harder.
    • The Pierce form of the Service Weapon literally could not be upgraded upon the game's release, meaning you gain no additional mod slots ever. This was later fixed.
    • Pausing the game during the credits on the Xbox One version may cause a glitch where you don't receive a post-game collectible (a photograph of Jesse as Director or two messages from The Board. The only fix is to play "Take Control" over again and let the credits play completely.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Arish still mentions the lockdown in his "leaving conversation" dialogue if talked to after its been lifted but before leaving Maintenance.
  • Gemstone Assault: In Foundation, Jesse is offered one of two powers by The Board (the other one later gets offered by FORMER) to deal with the crystal formations of the Foundation, and one of them allows her to create walls, platforms and spike traps out of them. The other allows her to destroy crystals by shooting at them, but this can occasionally be used offensively by destroying the crystal floor underneath enemies and sending them into the pits below.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Jesse is normally a man's name. The sound-alike woman's name is Jessie. Runs in the family with her brother Dylan, who lampshades that both of them have unisex names.
  • Genius Loci: The Board seems to have control over at least some of the Oldest House's appearance. Case in point, the moment Jesse is appointed as the director, all the paintings in the building that used to show Director Trench now show Director Faden instead.
  • Genki Girl: Emily Pope, the researcher you meet after clearing the Central Executive. Despite the situation surrounding her, she's extremely excited about meeting you and the work she's doing.
  • Ghost Town:
    • Ordinary, Jesse and Dylan's hometown, whose entire adult population disappeared as a result of an infamous AWE caused by the Slide Projector.
    • Keystone, where another event hinted to be an AWE occurred and the entire population had simply vanished by the time the FBC found out.
  • Ghost Train: The Eagle Limited in AWE, derailed by a paranatural terrorist-for-hire. In a variation, the train is not malevolent or even haunted by the passengers who died — instead, the one intact train car seems to be the ghost of the train itself, consumed with its own guilt.
  • Giant Mook: Hiss Troopers are heavy weapon specialists clad in massive EOD-style armor suits that are taller and wider than any other humanoid enemy. They're slow, but their shielding, huge health pool and enormous firepower make them one of the most dangerous Hiss types in the game. On the flip side, Seizing them gives you a very powerful temporary ally.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: In the side quest "Fridge Duty", Jesse finds a fridge that inexplicably kills people if it is not stared at constantly. When she attempts to cleanse the fridge, she enters an alternate dimension that appears to be a dark version of the Astral Plane. She is suddenly attacked by a monster named "FORMER" whose appearance is not unlike the name of the trope. The Board states that it was once a part of them, until it was "fired" for rebelling against them and is no longer part of the Board. However, it is unclear exactly what FORMER is, and its appearance is unlike anything else seen in the game.
  • Glassy Prison: After Dylan waltzes into the Executive and gives himself up, he's, locked up in one of those.
  • Go for the Eye: FORMER has a giant, glowing eye. Guess where to shoot to defeat it.
  • Godzilla Threshold: When the Hiss starts corrupting the Board itself, the Board, as a last desperate measure, imbues Jesse with enough power to wipe the floor with level 30 enemies.
  • Gold Makes Everything Shiny: The Gold Suit, won from the Roulette in Luck and Probability.
  • Got Volunteered: Jesse picks up the Service Weapon unaware of what it does. The Board takes this as her application for the position of Director and accepts said application before she becomes fully aware of what's happening.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: The Federal Bureau of Control, an organization that seeks to understand and control supernatural phenomena currently outside human knowledge. It's basically if The X-Files was an entire organization instead of two people in a cramped office. For an extra layer of "fiction", AWE heavily implies that Alan Wake wrote the Bureau into existence to help him escape from the Dark Place by adapting another one of his old Night Springs episodes.
  • Great Offscreen War: The "Ordinary Incident," which was more than just a Noodle Incident because what happened got alluded to quite a bit, if not fully explained. A bunch of kids found an old slide projector at the local dump that turned out to be an OoP/Altered Item capable of opening up doorways to other dimensions, at least one kid got mutated by a melting dimension into a half-melted "Dog-Neil" thing, and something called the "Not-Mother" destroyed most of the adults in town with its creatures after mutating them into monsters. Polaris came from a strange, soundless dimension and became a voice in Jesse's head, keeping her safe, and Jesse ended the incident by shutting off the slide projector and destroying all the slides but the one Polaris came from. The FBC showed up late to the party and rescued/recruited Dylan while Jesse fled from them.
  • Ground Pound: Jesse can unlock a skill that lets her, while levitating, slam herself into the ground, or walls, at where the player is aiming with their cursor, causing damage to the nearby enemies and objects.
  • Guide Dang It!: In keeping with the nature of the FBC and the Oldest House, the game is riddled with Easter Eggs and hidden locations. Good luck finding all of them on your own. Some can be stumbled upon more or less accidentally, but those only serve as a hint as to the existence of further secrets. Most require very thorough exploration in often absurd places, and a few are obscure to the point of sadism.
    • A tamer example is the unmarked quest which grants you the Eternal Fire mod for Grip, which requires you to notice the nondescript TV sets scattered around Maintenance — the ones with the flame on the screen. These turn out to be indestructible, but what are they for? There are a few of them near the furnace room, so you might try launching them into the furnace. Nothing tells you this is correct other than the fact that the TVs don't respawn. Launch six (there are at least seven) into the furnace's blazing maw and you'll unlock the mod.
    • Another unique mod requires you to punch through a seemingly random wall, navigate a few tunnels until you find a radio that plays a seemingly random song, figure out that this song contains an encrypted numerical code, punch through another random wall, realize that the previously mentioned code can be converted into hour settings on the clock behind that wall, enter the code correctly, find another hidden room, fight some tough enemies, and finally pick up the unique personal mod Aerobics alongside the hidden location bonus, all based on an extremely obscure hint in the Sdrawkcab Speech portion of "Take Control". If you found that one on your own, you really earned that trophy.
    • The puzzles by which Jesse collects the Maneki Neko statues of Foundation are moon logic by design, requiring you to trek back and forth across the vertical maze of the caverns and put together puzzles with almost no clues other than a few nondescript objects which might otherwise seem out of place. Adding insult to injury, these roundabout hikes often involve massive leaps of faith just to see if a tiny, almost invisible ledge exists around the corner beyond the sheer drop into nothingness. If you run out of Levitate before you spot it — back to the control point to start again.
  • Guns Do Not Work That Way: Control, like so many others before, makes the mistake of calling the Hiss Troopers' minigun a chain gun. It's not.
  • Gun Twirling: Whenever Jesse changes the Service Weapon into another form, she gives it a little flick and twirls it. As it spins, the Weapon dissolves into its component parts, then re-forms back into the new gun when Jesse grabs it again.
  • Halloween Episode: You can find documentation in The Oldest House regarding the FBC monitoring Jesse that says she ended up in New York City on October 29th, 2019. Combine that with the fact that Langston complains about missing the opening of a movie the night the game takes place (movies in America usually open on a Thursday or Friday, and October 31st, 2019 is a Thursday) and there's a heavy implication the game takes place on Halloween.
  • Hand Cannon: Zigzagged with the Service Weapon. The Pierce form is suitably long and appears to be longer than the real-life Desert Eagle. However the powerful shotgun form, Shatter is actually shorter than the basic Grip form. Shatter's a really stubby little weapon albeit with a large bore.
  • Hand Wave: In-universe, even. Early on in the Foundation DLC, Jesse wishes she had Pope there to help study everything. When she returns to the Nail, Pope has already set up shop, apparently on Jesse's orders, even though Jesse never sent out any such orders. After some conversation on this, Pope realizes that, while she can remember Jesse wanting her down there, she can't actually remember any request. She cheerfully chalks it up to synchronicity and moves on.
  • Happy Ending Override: Alan Wake didn't actually escape the Dark Place at the end of American Nightmare. You find a page written by him that says he's been trying to write himself out for the past decade, and several documents list him as missing.
  • Heel–Face Brainwashing: The Seize power lets Jesse turn Hiss soldiers into her allies, effectively returning them to the Bureau through Mind Control.
  • He Knows About Timed Hits: When Jesse answers the Hotline for the first time, the Board mentions the collectibles menu, which is where the Hotline recordings pop up after the cutscene's over.
  • He Was Right There All Along: The Altered Item responsible for the whole Hiss mess turns out to be stored in the Nostalgia Department adjacent to the Executive cafeteria, one of the very first areas Jesse visits. That creepy red-lit hallway there that drains Jesse's health if she so much as approaches it? Yep, that's where the Final Battle goes down.
  • Historical In-Joke: A few collectibles have documented several real-world incidents of unexplained phenomena, classified as Altered World Events that created certain Altered Items.
    • The Havana AWE is based on the unsolved Havana Syndrome outbreak, occurring in Cuba and China circa 2016-2017 among American and Canadian embassy staff, who all spontaneously developed symptoms such as hearing loss, memory loss, nausea, and even brain damage. The document resolves this by pinning this on a newly-formed Altered Item in the form of a single vibrating cowboy boot, and following the incident, the FBC covered it up by spreading a narrative to the media that foreign powers launched some kind of attack (in turn referencing how then-US president Donald Trump accused it being a sonic attack conspired by Cuba).
    • The Kyiv AWE is based on a series of incidents from 2011 in Kyiv, Ukraine, where loud screeching noises could be inexplicably heard all across the city, which in the AWE was also said to have caused additional afflictions like aphasia and sleep paralysis. While the FBC wasn't able to identify any items following the incident, they concluded it was some kind of "planar friction", and the public attempts to explain it as industrial drilling or seismic humming were planted to misdirect them.
    • The Arctic Queen Refrigerator item was recovered from the wreckage of the Grand Central Hotel in New York City, which collapsed in 1973. In the supplementary interview with the man who owned it before it was obtained by the FBC, the fridge is strongly implied to have been responsible for the collapse. Of note is that the interview also mentions that a young boy was found dead in the wreckage, which doesn't fit the description of any of the four real-world people who actually were killed by the incident, suggesting that it was a fifth unreported death that the FBC isolated to keep the fridge's condition hidden.
    • The Bureau investigator who recovered the Oscillator, an Altered Item in the form of an electric fan, apparently contributed to the urban legend of fan death in South Korea while trying to cover up the incident. Fan death is a belief that running an electric fan in a closed room can eventually cause death because the fan will suck all the air out; the Oscillator item does just that.
  • Hub Level: Central Executive becomes this after you cleanse the Control Point there. It's right next to the elevator connecting sectors, has the Control Point and all the goodies thereof, that particular Control Point is the only one where you can change outfits, and it's where Pope — initially, your only source of information — sets up shop. Likewise, every main mission begins and ends with Jesse visiting Central Executive, other quest-giving NPCs (like Arish and Marshall) can eventually be found in the vicinity as the story progresses, and the Jukebox is in a room nearby.

  • Idiot Ball: The report on the rubber duck says that the agent who brought it in was found to have been illegally taking altered objects home with them, which likely is what caused the duck to be haunted in the first place. This person, who works in a facility dedicated to neutralizing paranormal threats and who has likely seen their fair share of dangerous haunted objects, just decided to bring said objects home willy-nilly where they and their young daughter lived. They are LUCKY that all they got was a minor haunting and a firing.
  • If It Tastes Bad, It Must Be Good for You: As soon as Jesse takes the pill Dr. Underhill gives her to allow her to resist the Mold, she smells a horrible stench. This is by design, as the Mold propagates by smelling and tasting delicious so that people will eat it and turn into zombie-like Mold Hosts. The pill makes the Mold smell bad to Jesse so that she won't be tempted to eat it.
  • If Only You Knew: One of the nameless NPCs hanging around Central Executive may mention that this whole situation they're in would make for a good Night Springs episode. Come AWE, it's revealed that it is one. Just like he did in American Nightmare, Alan Wake once again used one of his old episodes as a base for an escape plan for himself.
  • Improbably Female Cast: In spite of taking place in a government bureaucracy, a lot of characters with high ranks are women. Jesse becomes the Director after picking up the Service Weapon, Marshall is head of Operations, Underhill is in charge of studying the Mold, and while Pope is just an assistant, she's assistant to head researcher Dr. Darling, and has taken over for him by the end of the game. Even extra-dimensional being Polaris is referred to as "she".
  • Improperly Placed Firearms: For some reason, FBC employees are fighting with Word War I-era Lewis guns, something that even the Oldest House's aversion to modern technology doesn't explain. Lampshaded when after Arish moves Security's operations hub into Central Executive, you hear him talking about being unable to find the FBC armory.
  • Incomprehensible Entrance Exam: Jesse Faden has no idea she's even being considered for employment when she arrives at the Federal Bureau of Control in the hopes of uncovering its secrets, much less that she's being evaluated for the post of Director. It's not until she finds the previous Director dead in his office and is ordered to pick up the murder weapon that she's finally notified of her application... and is unceremoniously flung into the Astral Plane for the test. For good measure, she's belatedly warned that failing the test will result in the "murder weapon" fatally shooting her in the head.
  • Inexplicably Awesome: Ahti the janitor comes and goes as he pleases, regardless the Oldest House's lockdowns or security protocols, to the point of taking a vacation at around the halfway mark. He's the only person besides the Polaris-protected Jesse to be unaffected by the Hiss without an HRA. He responds to Jesse's internal monologue. He might be telepathic. He helps Jesse get through a supposedly-impossible maze with nothing but a tape player. He appears during her Battle in the Center of the Mind to offer support. And no one, not even the Bureau, knows what's up with him. A few documents imply that the employees have just given up trying to make sense of him.
  • Infinity Plus One Mod: There's a number of unique super mods that are usually very well hidden and can't be reacquired if you deconstruct them.
    • The base game has a hidden mod for Grip called Eternal Fire that refunds you one shot for every shot you land, essentially giving you unlimited ammo as long as you don't miss.
    • The AWE DLC adds one super mod for each Service Weapon form except for Grip and Surge. Some like the one for Spinnote  aren't all that helpful, but others like the ones for Piercenote , Shatternote  or Chargenote  make combat much less of a hassle.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: While Courtney Hope has played a character in a Remedy game before, she was mo-capped for this role. Jesse pretty much is the actress, down to every facial detail and her red hair.
  • Inn Between the Worlds: The Oceanview Motel and Casino, a strange, dreamlike hotel that people get teleported to when they pull a particular light cord. When the connection to it was first discovered, more of those cords began popping into existence in the Oldest House. The Bureau has been unable to find out where it’s actually located; for now, the only way in is through the teleporting light cords. However, one of the times you visit, you’ll hear someone knocking on the door, trying to get a room.
  • Inner Monologue Conversation: The weird janitor Ahti reacts to Jesse's internal monologue. For instance, when Jesse first meets him, she narrates that he's a bit weird but qualifies as a friendly face. Ahti immediately remarks, as if he can hear the narration, that it's better than having no face at all.
  • Insistent Terminology: When Jesse accuses the Bureau of kidnapping her brother, Marshall corrects her to say that they took him in, insisting that there was no other option.
  • Instant Expert: Justified. Late in the game, Pope mentions that Director Northmoor's record with the Launch diskette was to fling a bowling ball six feet — a substantial difference from the Person of Mass Destruction Jesse becomes when she binds it. Jesse, however, has a great deal of help from Polaris and was also exposed to the paranatural early in life, giving her a greater capacity than your average person for this kind of thing in both understanding and potential.
  • Insubstantial Ingredients: While some crafting materials, like Corrupted Samples, are physical objects, the list also include "items" such as Ritual Impulse or Untapped Potential. "Confiscated Motive" and "Shaded Facet" show up in AWE, for example. It seems that thought processes are as much of what makes up the Service Weapon as physical objects.
  • Interdimensional Travel Device:
    • The Projector opens gateways into other realities through its slides. Unfortunately, like most doors, it can be used in both directions.
    • Emily theorizes that the Oceanview Motel acts as a hub between multiple parallel realities.
  • Interservice Rivalry: An extremely mundane example shows up in several collectibles, where the head researcher for one of the science departments belittle his colleagues from another and offers Dr. Darling a bottle of whiskey, because he wants an increase in his department budget. When this doesn't work, he tries threatening Darling instead, which also doesn't work.
  • Invincible Minor Minion: The Astral Spike is never truly "fought," so it doesn't qualify as a Hopeless Boss Fight. Instead, it's an utterly invincible annoyance that pops up occasionally and pursues Jesse, leaving her no choice but to flee in terror. Nothing can harm it (though you can very briefly stop it in its tracks by launching items at it), and it will do serious damage if it gets close to Jesse.
  • Invisible Wall: Not just walls, but ceilings too:
    • At the edges of the Black Rock Quarry, to prevent Jesse from climbing the very edges of the Quarry.
    • There's an invisible ceiling about two maximum height Levitates from the 5th floor's floor of the Panopticon, to keep Jesse from reaching the 6th floor.
  • Irony: Jesse's hometown is called Ordinary. It was the site of an AWE so infamous, even newer Bureau employees are familiar with it seventeen years after it happened, and so classified, Pope, the assistant to the Bureau's head researcher, has no clue what happened there, only that it was "one of the big ones".
  • It's All About Me: Dr. Underhill, who's studying the Mold within the FBC, doesn't care about the Hiss incursion or anything that isn't her current project, and doesn't even know that Jesse is the new Director, despite every other member of Bureau personnel (including the people guarding her lab) knowing on sight from seeing her with the Service Weapon.
  • Jumped at the Call:
    • Downplayed with Jesse. She's fully aware of how weird some of this crap is, and she's concerned about the pressure of Falling into the Cockpit of the Directorship. However, she also expresses enjoyment and satisfaction with the Bureau on more than one occasion. She may not (and might still not) be ready to lead, but she's definitely ready to be a member.
    • Dr. Underhill hadn't been working at the Bureau for several years when Darling called her to ask if she'd be willing to help with the Mold. Apparently, she dropped everything she was doing at the time (which included teaching a university class) and went back to the Oldest House. In her own words:
    He called me, and I booked a flight. I've never been able to say no to a man with a dangerous alien biosphere.
  • Just Think of the Potential!: Dr. Underhill is horrified when Jesse tells her she's destroyed Mold-1, the source of the Mold infesting the Oldest House, bemoaning the loss of valuable research data. Jesse gives her a sample of what was left to placate her.
  • Kidnapped by the Call: Dylan was kidnapped by the FBC to become the Director. It went very wrong.
  • Kids Are Cruel: During the Ordinary AWE, one of the kids that apparently instigated most of it was a bully named Tom Barlow - It's heavily suggested that whatever happened to them had some supernatural component, as Tom's bullies apparently fed on the milk of something called "the Not-Mother" and became so violent that they murdered a teacher, and caused all the adults in town to disappear.
  • Kill Enemies to Open: Certain sections, like in the end game, require the death of all enemies in order to remove the barrier blocking the path.
  • King Mook:
    • The boss fight against Tommasi is your first encounter with the Hiss Elevated. Future Elevated are nowhere near as hard as he is... until you fight him as a Bonus Boss.
    • Likewise, Salvador is a boss version of the Hiss Warped, though the Mook version precedes him in introduction.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • The Board mentions "the game" several times as an alternative term for the situation Jesse found herself in. They also mention the collectibles menu. In the postgame, they refer to needing your help in the "Future / Expansion".
    • If you keep talking to Dylan after containing him, he'll mention a dream of looking at himself and Jesse talking from the corner of the room, where the camera for that scene is located.
    • Most of Jesse's internal monologues to Polaris can be read as her also talking to the player, and several moments almost directly imply that the game's UI is Polaris altering Jesse's vision so that it's how she literally sees the world In-Universe.
    • Philip's book club review collectible has him describing how characters in a book were mentioned as feeling like they were programmed to repeat the same things over and over, and he even calls it "very meta."
  • Legendary Weapon: The Service Weapon is an ancient weapon that has a reputation similar to this. In fact, it's implied that it used to be various other legendary weapons that choose their wielder over the centuries, including Excalibur and Mjolnir.
  • Leitmotif: Petri Alanko's three-note piano motif for Alan Wake (first heard in this track) plays after Alan's projected message completes and at the end of the AWE DLC, to signal his return.
  • Literal Split Personality: The Hiss incantation and Dylan Faden both imply this might be true of Jesse and Dylan. It isn't clear if it is true, or just the Hiss messing with them.
  • Locked Door: Many doors and secrets are locked to Jesse without the right passkeys. These go up to clearance level 6 the last of which is received from Dylan.
  • LOL, 69: Langston has a ton of fun when he finds out that an Altered Item broke out of containment in Cell 69. His guards, less so.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Jesse came to the Oldest House in search of her missing younger brother, Dylan, whom the Bureau took away when they were both little.
  • Lost in Translation: In-universe. In one of the Hotline messages, the Board attempts to explain Objects of Power as they see it. It's even more confusing than most of the Board's communiques, and halfway through, they give up, declare that human language doesn't have the appropriate vocabulary, and tell you to ignore this message.
  • Lost in Transmission: The first few visions/messages you get from Trench are choppy and missing half the context, since, as Pope speculates, they're being projected into your mind via a bullet in his brain. Once you get the Hotline, you can rewatch them in whole.
  • Lovecraft Lite: A lot of elements in the story are certainly evocative of a Cosmic Horror Story; Eldritch Abominations beyond human comprehension trying to breach into the reality with humanity under-equipped to stop it, at least three different mind-controlling alien presences infecting people in the same building, a mysterious (and probably sentient) building that moves around and is Invisible to Normals, an Ambiguously Human janitor, various Beethoven Was an Alien Spy/Been There, Shaped History moments in history and a Government Conspiracy kidnapping children for their Psychic Powers. However, the game's third-person shooter style, its sense of humor, its protagonist having Jumped at the Call to adventure, four of the Eldritch Abominations (The Board, Polaris, maybe Ahti and Dr. Darling) being portrayed as benevolent (or at least as allies) and the fact that half of the time the Bureau is actually fairly good at what it does points it more towards being a New Weird Action game instead of just a straight-up Lovecraft story.
  • Loyal Phlebotinum: The Service Weapon chooses its wielder. Whoever uses it is the Director of the FBC, no ifs, ands, or buts.
  • Madness Mantra:
  • Mad Scientist: Discussed. Pope has a lot of ideas she's excited about, including numerous combat applications, prompting Jesse to think this:
    I wonder how often the phrase 'mad scientist' is used around here.
  • Magic Versus Science: The newest technology seen in the Oldest House comes from The '80s, and anything more modern tends to malfunction spectacularly - an example given is cell phones exploding in people's pockets. One document speculates that it could be because the newest technology is not yet firmly established in the public subconscious. They have a special room in communications set up just so employees can access the internet on work time, and even then, it's built in such a way that basically forces the Oldest House to let them connect.
  • Married to the Job: Director Trench's work in the FBC consumed his life and destroyed his family, including killing his young daughter.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: One Altered Item is a rubber duck that follows around whoever touches it, quacking incessantly. The last researcher who touched it eventually had a heart attack from the stress, but since he also had preexisting health issues, the Bureau doesn't know if the duck directly caused the attack or not.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Trench's dearest friend is named Darling. Furthermore, Dr. Darling's first name is Casper - like the ghost, he is friendly, but he never appears in person.
    • Ahti's name means 'Water God' in Finnish, and is the name of the god of the sea and fishing in Finnish mythology, hinting at his seemingly supernatural nature.
    • The Hiss themselves might be a reference to Hiisi, an evil spirit in Finnish folklore.
    • Dr. Underhill is met deep underground.
    • Helen Marshall can be considered the "marshal" of the FBC's military as well as "marshalling" an effective resistance to the Hiss invasion.
    • Emily Pope is a noticeably pure character with nothing to hide. Emily can be taken to mean 'industrious,' 'eager,' or 'hardworking.'
  • Masquerade: The FBC strives to hide the supernatural world from the public eye - and they're good at it, too, as it takes Jesse seventeen years to find evidence that the paranormal is real, despite having been at ground zero of an AWE, in fact the biggest AWE on record, as a child.
  • Medium Blending: A Remedy staple.
    • Characters on the "other side of the veil", such as Trench, Alan, and later Darling, appear as live-action silhouette projections in the game world.
    • Various videos you can find around the Oldest House are likewise all in live-action.
    • When Jesse first encounters the Hiss, there's a brief cutscene of her having a breakdown and nearly succumbing to it before Polaris protects her. The shots alternate between in-game footage of Jesse and live-action footage of her actress, Courtney Hope.
    • While Jesse is chasing after the Movie Camera Altered Item in Foundation, the game takes on a letterbox aspect ratio.
  • Mental Picture Projector: The Parapsychology department has cognitive recorders that allow for producing images by scanning a person's mind. This is how they're able to document the Astral Plane.
  • Metroidvania: Areas in the House can be revisited and explored further as you acquire new powers and higher security clearance.
  • Mighty Glacier: Mold Hosts are slow, and their attacks are extremely close-range, but they are veritable bullet sponges and if you do let them get in close, you're in for a world of hurt.
  • Mind Manipulation: Seize, obtained by bonding the X-Ray Light Box, allows Jesse to turn low-health enemies into allies.
  • Mind over Matter: Bonding the diskette OoP grants Jesse Launch, AKA telekinetic powers, allowing her to pull objects from the environment to chuck at enemies.
  • Mind Screw: The game's story, as per Remedy's Signature Style.
    • The Oldest House is constantly shifting, sometimes opening up new passages where there were previously just blank walls. This is especially prevalent in the first area of the game.
    • The portraits on the wall changing from Director Trench to Director Faden after Jesse finds the Service Weapon.
    • Every member of the Bureau seems to have an instinctual awareness of whenever a new director is appointed, even when cloistered in a safe room.
    • The Board's speech is unintelligible, but can be understood if you turn on the subtitles, reflecting Jesse's ability to understand it somehow.
    • The entire Hiss incantation. At first it seems like nonsensical rambling, but it becomes increasingly clear the more you listen to it that the Hiss incantation is not random, but is specifically referring to Jesse in many places. It refers to various things that Jesse talked about, like the "the hole in the room" behind a poster, talks about how the Bureau of Control is "home" and "reminds us of home", talks about taking "your boss with your boss with you" (implying they know about Polaris's presence in Jesse's mind, as well as possibly referencing the Board), and talks about standing around "you" (presumably Dylan) while "you" dream. However, the mind screw is brought up to 11 after speaking to Dylan, who points out how interesting it is that Dylan and Jesse are androgynous names that could apply to either a boy or a girl, then goes back to the incantation, which notes "You've always been the new you. You want this to be true." and "You have always been here, the only child. A copy of a copy of a copy." It isn't clear whether this is implying that Jesse and Dylan are a Literal Split Personality, or if it is just the Hiss screwing with them.
    • An script of an episode of Night Springs written by Alan Wake echoes what happened with the Director and the Hiss, down to the director shooting himself to beat the monster he unleashed. The AWE expansion more strongly implies that Alan Wake might have written the events of Control, or that through synchronicity, wrote about the same things, and at the very least appeared to have manipulated parts of the Hiss Incantation into a Dadist poem he wrote.
  • Mirror Boss: In one side mission, Jesse finds an Altered mirror that transports her to an alternate dimension where everything is mirrored. In this dimension, she finds a clone of herself named esseJ that immediately attacks her. esseJ has the exact same powers as Jesse, gaining more as the battle goes on until she is levitating across the room. esseJ even uses a Service Weapon of her own, and is capable of transforming it.
  • Misery Poker: Several documents are from different employees comparing the worst things they've ever had to look over for Altered status. Starting with the least bad, they go through about a hundred individual human teeth, an entire airplane (and every single part in it), and a fresh dog corpse.
  • Mobile Maze:
    • The Oldest House occasionally undergoes what the staff calls Building Shifts, where the entire structure rearranges its layout. It can be somewhat stabilized by Control Points, but the FBC has entire procedures regarding how to deal with a Building Shift.
    • The elevators around the House keep appearing and disappearing.
    • The Ashtray Maze protecting Dimensional Research opens and closes routes freely to keep someone from getting to the end. When Jesse gets help from Ahti to pass through it, things go crazy.
  • Mook Medic: The Hiss Clusters heal all the Hiss units in the area... or you, if you Seize them.
  • Moon-Landing Hoax: Subverted. NASA really did go to the moon. What got covered up was what was they brought back. Or rather, hitched a ride...
  • More Than Mind Control: Shortly before his death, Trench began to suspect that someone was messing with his brain and making him tired and forgetful so that he could be easily manipulated. He's right: It's the Hiss, and he unleashes it onto the House because he perceived Polaris/Hedron to be a bigger threat.
  • Mr. Exposition:
    • The Board tutors you on the use of various Objects of Power you bond by pulling your mind into the Astral Plane and presenting you with a scenario that requires you to use the ability.
    • Jesse can talk to several characters representing their departments - such as Arish for Security and Pope for Research - and ask them numerous questions regarding aspects of the Oldest House.
    • Trench and Darling offer information on the setting and backstory through live-action "collectibles" that you'll acquire right as you'll start to wonder about their topics.
  • Multiple Choice Form Letter: The Board speaks like this, occasionally giving several options for some of their lines.
    < Only the Director can wield the Gun/Sword/Intentionally left blank >
  • Mundane Horror: Being a New Weird game with Cosmic Horror elements, the whole game has an air of Uncanny Valley to it. Random, innocuous objects possess supernatural properties, an Eldritch Location refitted into office spaces and auditoriums, files with redacted information spilled everywhere, doorways that appear out of nowhere, portals to alternate dimensions, a motel that may or not just be a dream, random people floating in midair rambling words to no one, and so on.
  • Mundane Utility: Control wouldn't be in the Urban Fantasy genre if this trope wasn't involved.
    • The Oldest House itself is an Eldritch Location that the FBC had discovered by complete accident and may predate New York City itself. In spite of the number of problems it causes, the Bureau had outfitted it into their main headquarters, using its interior for office space, storage space, a prison for paranatural content, training facilities, research facilities and so on.
    • The NSC unit is a paranormal entity, former Director Northmoor, that emits a huge amount of heat. The Bureau uses it as a generator to power their entire building.
    • Similarly, water for cooling the generator and other utility uses isn't drawn from the New York water supply, but a special Threshold. They don't drink it, though. It's a bit... chunky.
    • The Foundation reveals how those weird power boxes actually work; they use porous stone from the, well, the Foundation, as it can absorb exotic energy - which can then be converted into mundane electricity through some kind of electromagnetic induction system. This neatly tackled most of the Bureau's early power requirements, with the rest eventually being covered by the NSC.
    • You can find mentions that some Bureau employees pop to the transdimensional Oceanview Motel just to have a lie down in the rooms. One of them also likes to take advantage of the always stocked minibar.
  • My Greatest Failure: Trench alludes to something bad concerning his family in several of his Hotline monologues, but it's not until you reach the Prime Candidate program that he muses on what happened: he "brought work home" and something followed, infecting and eventually killing Susanna, his young daughter. His wife, Kate, left him over this. It's the reason why he decides not to involve himself in Dylan's care when the boy is brought into the Bureau, instead letting Darling handle it.
  • Myopic Architecture: Entering Maintenance Sector for the first time, Jesse comes across a door with Level 2 Clearance required to enter. While you only have Level 1 at that point, you also have Launch, which lets Jesse pick up one of half a dozen heavy objects around and slam it into the floor-to-ceiling windows surrounding the door. Or you could just shoot the glass.
  • Mysterious Backer: Both Polaris and the Board are mysterious supernatural entities that provide direction and guidance to Jesse and the FBC respectively. Their actual motives for helping humanity, containing AWEs, and opposing the Hiss are completely unknown to the point where a paranoid Trench releases the Hiss into the Oldest House due to his mistrust of Hedron.
  • Mystical Plague: The Hiss possesses the people in their vicinity via some sort of telepathy - Jesse describes it as a babble that gets into your head until you can't help but repeat it.
  • Mythology Gag: The number 665, the "neighbor of the beast", previously mentioned as a door code in past Remedy titles Max Payne and Quantum Break (and 667 in Max Payne 2), appears again twice:
    • On a sign in the hallway outside the Director's Office.
    • Mentioned by Dr. Darling as the entry code for the Quarry in the "Black Rock" Multimedia collectible.
  • Negative Space Wedgie: Astral Spikes. They are rapidly expanding/contracting blobs of hard sharp tiny cubes that wreck everything in its vicinity and move slowly towards any thinking being (IE: Jesse but not Hiss thralls). You can't do anything but move away from them. Fortunately, they're not overly fast, and can be useful if you can lure them into the path of some Hiss thralls.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Downplayed: In Foundation, Jesse restores the previously-destroyed Nail (a kind of pillar of existence and locus point of the Oldest House's psychic energy). Except it was Helen Marshall who destroyed it in order to keep the Hiss from seizing it, and by putting the Nail back together again Jesse has put the entire Bureau in danger. But without the Nail, the Astral Plane intrudes into the Foundation of the Oldest House (and thus, by proxy, Prime Reality) which will have equally (if not more) disastrous consequences if left unchecked.]]
  • Nightmare Sequence: One interrupts the final chapter, leading to the endgame. (It's more than just any nightmare, too: it's Jesse being trapped in her own mind, having succumbed to the Hiss, and having to fight her way out again.)
  • Non-Indicative Name: A reocurring theme, because humans don't have decent frames of references for what the things they fight are.
    • The Hiss, when you hear it, is more some kind of weird droning hum than a hissing noise, but because it approximates one, so it goes.
    • Likewise, the Mold isn't, as the researcher studying it is constantly reminding you. It's some kind of alien nanomanufacturing technology/organism/extra-universal form of matter un-harmoniously intermixing with our reality, and the end product just happens to superficially resemble bad mold/fungi infestation.
    • The Oldest House can be barely called a house. Even before its colonization by the Bureau (and after), it's a bizarre series of church-esque places, passageways, and entryways into other dimensions, as well as seemingly holding an entire galaxy inside itself.
    • The Federal Bureau of Control doesn't really control anything. It contains things, but often not for long, there's constant implications it exists at the mercy of the Oldest House, the Board, and whatever eldritch forces are at play - even one of the benign beings it "controls" is there willingly. Even Director Trench says that their main purpose is to expand what humanity knows about unreality. Files mention that this is intentional; when the IRS or other government budgets start looking for things to cut, they'll overlook an agency with a simple name and purpose (as far as the Federal government is concerned, the FBC just helps transport other agencies around) suddenly asking for more budget.
  • No Periods, Period: Played totally straight; despite the Bureau having a workforce that's roughly 40-50% women, there aren't even any feminine hygiene machines in the women's bathrooms.
  • Noodle Implements:
    • The list of items forbidden within the Oldest House includes the obvious, such as advanced electronics, but also "iconic representations of archetypal concepts" (which apparently includes rubber ducks and ketchup bottles) and, for some reason, number 2 pencils.
    • A document you find early on specifies a list of words that should not be used when talking about an aftermath of a particular AWE. The list includes terms like "blood", "Alaska" and, for some reason, "scissors".
    • For some reason, all of the women's bathrooms (not the men's or the unisex ones) have, in addition to first aid kits, defibrillators.
  • Noodle Incident: The Dead Letters are filled with messages that sound like postcards from a bizarre horror movie. One letter speaks about a singing fish that "flies around the house singing Devil songs", while another talks about a man trying to build a God out of spare junk in his garage.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Surprisingly, given the Eldritch Location that randomly shifts layout, mostly averted except in specific areas that have been infected by the Hiss/Mold/other dangers. Stairways and walkways have railings, scaffolding is protected, signage is plentiful - it's even logical in layout. Really, the only issue is the haphazard placement of explosive items for Jesse to fling around in combat.
    • There is also the issue of the bottomless pits with no hand rails.
  • No Pronunciation Guide: Jesse briefly wonders how exactly you are supposed to pronounce the name of the arcade game SHÜM when she first encounters it.
  • Non Sequitur Environment: Visits to the Oceanview Motel; accessible only by pulling a light switch cord hanging from random ceilings, your arrival occurs via a jumpcut so sudden you might be tempted to imagine it's only the road ahead that's changed - until you turn around, of course.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The Oceanview Motel is mundane and largely harmless. Too bad you don't know that when you first visit it. The fact that the game treats it as a "safe" area, similar to the Board Room where Pope resides — a place where you can't draw the Service Weapon or use your powers — can be either reassuring or worrisome. And then, every now and then, when you're walking through it, you'll hear someone scream, or you'll find blood leaking from under a door...
  • Not Hyperbole: When you first enter the Oldest House and encounter Ahti, he mistakes Jesse as being there for his assistant job. Later in the game it is heavily implied that Ahti is connected to The Board in some way or another, so her becoming Director is essentially her becoming his assistant.
    Ahti: I knew I chose a good assistant.
  • Not Quite Flight:
    • The Hiss Elevated levitate. Some do so still strapped to the chairs they were in when the Hiss took them.
    • You can join them in the sky after binding the old TV. Though it's a sharply limited flight; you can only lift so high and then move horizontally at that elevation. Once you stop rising, you can't go up again until you set foot on something.
  • Not So Above It All: After shooting her way through a horde of Hiss while blasting an Old Gods of Asgard song in her ears in the Ashtray Maze, even Jesse has to admit that the entire sequence was pretty damn awesome.
  • Not-So-Imaginary Friend: Jesse constantly speaks to some sort of unseen person in her internal monologue. As the game's opening act goes on, it slowly becomes apparent that the entity is very real, and even answers her at points, though nonverbally; all we see is an odd spiral and the responses have to be inferred from Jesse's reactions to them. Jesse calls her Polaris. She manages to get Jesse inside the Oldest House despite the lockdown, and when Pope is told this, she refers to it as "like a guiding star."
  • Now You Tell Me: Shortly after binding the Merry-Go-Round Horse and gaining the Evade power, you find a message from Arish saying, "Do NOT try to contain it on your own. And definitely don't bind it to yourself!"
  • Number of the Beast: 665, "neighbor of the beast", is the access code for the Black Rock Quarry; Darling makes little horns on his forehead with his index fingers while telling an unamused Dr. Vaughn. 665 also appears on a sign outside the Director's office.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: At some point in the past, Trench and the FBC managed to investigate and bind The Ashtray Maze. Since it was far from The Oldest House, they probably didn't have help like Jesse did.
  • Ominous Mundanity: All over the place; Your shape-shifting magic gun is called "The Service Weapon", the FBC's Bigger on the Inside base is called "The Oldest House", and the psychic extra-dimensional inverted black pyramid is simply referred to as "The Board".
  • Ominous Television:
    • The Benicoff TV is one of several Objects of Power Jesse encounters in the main story, finding it possessed by the Hiss in the Panopticon. While normally the object is only known to float around, when Jesse tries to cleanse it, it warps the cell that its in to where it becomes much bigger, levitating larges chunks of concrete and creating an entirely different room that remains there for the rest of the game. When Jesse cleanses it of the Hiss's influence, she is able to bind it and gains the power to levitate.
    • In the mission "What a Mess: Burn the Trash", Jesse is tasked by Ahti to feed toxic waste to an incinerator that is implied to house an Eldritch Abomination that needs to be fed. If the player explores the room, they will find several televisions displaying an open flame.
    • In the mission "Found Footage", Jesse finds a television showing Ahti mopping at the bottom of a chasm. This television is the result of the Bureau's attempt at researching Ahti, only for the VHS tape housing the footage they took to become an Altered Item in the process. The tape is impossible to remove from the TV and plays the footage on a loop even if the TV is unplugged. Anyone who watches the TV (except for Jesse) becomes hypnotized and is incapable of looking away or doing anything else.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Dr. Casper Darling, while focusing mostly on OoP research, seems to know a lot about a whole bunch of different subjects relating to them. Apparently, he's considered a genius by his peers, as one of the Agents in front of the Board Room calls him "the Bureau's golden child".
  • One-Hit Kill:
    • The boss fight in the sixth mission marks the moment when bosses can start doing this to you, coinciding with a Difficulty Spike as the game moves into truly perfectionist territory: dodge or die.
    • You are able to do this through Assist Mode.
  • One-Hit Polykill:
    • The aptly named Pierce form is essentially a handheld railgun with a painfully slow Charged Attack, but its shots punch clean through any walls, obstacles and enemies in their path, leaving glowing holes behind. They're also strong enough to One-Hit Kill all but the strongest Elite Mooks, giving you ample opportunity to wreck multiple Hiss with every shot. It gets downright ridiculous with its unique AWE-exclusive mod that removes the charge time.
    • The final upgrade for the launch ability is Multilaunch, which allows you to hold and launch three objects simultaneously (note, the default object is a chunk of concrete bigger than a cinderblock).
  • Once More, with Clarity!:
    • Once you access the Hotline, you unlock the recordings of Trench that have previously only appeared as hazy overlays and can listen to the full versions of his previously-partial monologues.
    • Some visual collectibles - most notably Darling's presentations - are shown with some scenes or lines missing when you watch them in-world; you have to see them again in the collectibles menu for full context.
  • Only Fatal to Adults: Marshall tried to justify kidnapping Dylan by stating that all adults in Ordinary had vanished by the time FBC arrived.
  • Only Friend: In one of his monologues, Trench calls Dr. Darling this.
  • Only One Save File: One saved path. One latest Auto-Save to reload from and a checkpoint from every plot mission completed if the player would like to turn back the clock for some reason.
  • Only the Chosen May Wield: The Service Weapon can only be wielded by someone with considerable psychic potential, and anyone other than the Director trying to use The Hotline will cause serious injury or death by [REDACTED]. Later on, you find a document that theorizes that the [REDACTED] fate of the unchosen trying to wield those two is something actively enforced by the Board, because they are the only items where such a fate occurs. Non-worthy/-psychic people trying to bond with other Objects of Power either just does nothing, or they suffer only very minor backlash.
  • Orbiting Particle Shield: Jesse gains the ability to surround herself with hovering debris that shields her from damage. Upgrading it increases its resilience and allows her to use it offensively, too. The Hiss Warped have the same ability including its attack potential.
  • Order Versus Chaos: Polaris appears as a perfect spiral pattern, and the Board is represented by a pyramid. Their mutual enemy, the Hiss, is represented by images of chaotic red fluid diffusion.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: Invoked. In a debriefing of what was meant to be a routine patrol through Black Rock Quarry, Wells and Horowitz tell the interviewer about sighting an alluring/enchanting mermaid basking on the rocks. Horowitz was "overcome with desire". Then they admit they made the whole thing up — nothing ever happens on patrol.
  • Overly Long Gag: In AWE, once Jesse establishes contact with Langston in Active Investigations, he'll continue talking through the one-way PA system. Very quickly, he starts rambling about whatever's on his mind, and if you decide to stick around for whatever reason, you'll find that he goes on for quite a while.
    Langston: I need to stay focused so I can get my work done and get home to feed Alfred. Of course, can't always make it home for mealtime, so I have my neighbor check in on Alfred at 7:00 if I'm not back yet...
    Jesse: He's just going to talk forever, isn't he?
  • Perception Filter:
    • As Pope puts it, the Oldest House doesn't like attention. That's why it can only be found if someone is already aware of its existence. Jesse only manages to notice it and get inside after her supernatural companion calls her there.
    • The same thing began happening to the FBC themselves when they moved in, with the world at large, including the government that funds them, forgetting that their existence is important. As Trench puts it in one of his written memos, that means that the Bureau can demand as large a budget as they want to, since no-one can remember them long enough to realize what sum of money they've just signed over. Though he does remind people not to be too extravagant with their requests.
  • Percussive Maintenance: The appearance of how Jesse shuts up the devices in the Investigations Sector Oceanview Motel. Although it sounds like she's turning them off.
  • Photo Mode: Includes a free-roam camera and filters.
  • Platonic Cave: Jesse's go-to metaphor about ripping down the poster on the wall (like in that one movie) and finally seeing the true reality behind it is more or less the allegory of the cave updated for a modern setting.
  • The Player Is the Most Important Resource: It's implied that Polaris, the entity guiding Jesse through the game, is the player themselves. Her expository Internal Monologue can be viewed as talking to the player directly, especially in the finale.
  • Playing with Fire: It's implied that Northmoor, the Director preceding Trench, had this ability - Trench notes Northmoor's considerable psychic power, pyrokinesis is mentioned as an existing ability, and N in the NSC, the Oldest House's heat-fueled power plant, stands for Northmoor.
  • Pocket Dimension: The Bureau believes Thresholds to be this, small pocket dimensions that occasionally align themselves with the Oldest House. There's even an idea going about that Earth is a Threshold as well, though it's discouraged, as it tends to cause existential dread.
  • Portal Network: The Control Points work this way for Jesse, letting her teleport between various parts of the Oldest House. When she mentions this to Pope, it turns out that this is the first time they ever worked like that for anyone.
  • The Poorly Chosen One: Dylan was kidnapped by the FBC due his innate supernatural abilities, which made him a perfect candidate to be the next Director of FBC. Unfortunately, whether it was due to the FBC's mistreatment of him or the Hiss' influence, Dylan proved to be too violent and unstable and was sealed away instead.
  • Posthumous Character:
    • Trench is alive only in the opening cutscene; Jesse walks in on the aftermath of his apparent suicide. He still appears to her in visions to give you directions and clues. Pope suggests it's being projected into Jesse's mind from the Service Weapon's bullet stuck in his cooling corpse.
    • Northmoor, the Director Trench replaced, figures into several of Trench's monologues, with much of what Trench did stemming from Northmoor's actions. He's not actually dead, but being stuck inside the reactor of the electrical plant to act as its power source is hardly better.
  • Post-Modern Magik: Rather than ancient swords or rings, most Objects of Power are the kind of items you can buy at your local supermarket or Home Depot (or rather, could thirty years ago), like diskettes, boots or light cords. The Service Weapon is the only Object of Power that looks remotely fantastical, and that is implied to be over a thousand years old.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: The NSC stands for Northmoor Sarcophagus Container and there is a good chance they are still alive.
  • Psychic Nosebleed: Jesse gets one after using the Hotline for the first time.
  • Psychic Powers: While it's never said out loud, a lot of the various abilities that are classified as "parautility" are just different psychic powers. "Launch" and "Shield" are Telekinesis, "Levitate" is levitation, "Seize" is mind-control, parautilitarians can astral project themselves into the astral plane (either with Objects of Power or in controlled environments), Polaris acts as a Psychic Radar for Jesse, Jesse gets a Psychic Nosebleed when she uses certain objects of power and Mr. Bones in Threshold Kids describes parautility as a product of "different brains."
  • Public Domain Artifact: A document you pick up speculates that the Service Weapon might be only the latest form of an artifact known in the past as Mjolnir or Excalibur.
  • Pyramid Power: The Bureau's Arc Symbol is an inverted black triangle, this originating from The Board, an Eldritch Abomination from the Astral Plane that takes the form of a black pyramid that looms beyond the horizon.
  • Quote Mine: Most of the Hotline calls and some of Darling's presentations, are shown only in part, removing key information and sometimes completely altering the message. Of course, you can open each one in the Collectibles tab immediately to see the whole thing.
  • Random Event: The occasional Bureau Alerts, Timed Missions that come up at random points and require you to return to a previously-explored part of the house. They come in a few varieties - keep all Bureau operatives alive as you destroy the Hiss forces, face down a miniboss rush, or destroy a number of specific units.
  • Reality Bleed: The plot of Foundation hinges around the foundational level of the Oldest House becoming merged with sections of the Astral Plane, resulting in several expanses of cave leaking into a vast white void and vice versa. This was caused due to major damage to The Nail, a structural tether binding the Oldest House with the Astral Plane, so Jesse must repair it to stop the bleed.
  • Reality Has No Soundtrack: The music comes on only when you enter combat with Hiss enemies; during exploration, it's dead quiet. (It should also be pointed out that aforesaid music consists solely of percussion, lacking anything approaching intentional pitches.)
  • Reality Warper: The Oldest House itself seems to alter reality.
    • After Jesse is made the Director, all the paintings that used to show Trench now show her.
    • Shortly afterwards, she gets a document describing Hiss Guards which is signed as being made by Emily Pope, by the orders of Director Jesse Faden. Problems with that include: Jesse doesn't dub the entity the Hiss until several minutes later; Jesse has only been appointed a minute prior; Jesse and Pope don't meet until far later; and Jesse is the one who suggests the name Hiss to Pope.
  • Red Herring: As soon as he is introduced the game seems to hint heavily that Dylan's willing acceptance of the Hiss and immense power even without it means that he is largely responsible for releasing them into the Oldest House and directing their actions... but as it turns out he has no real influence over the Hiss as a whole, and it's revealed that Trench, not Dylan, was the Hiss's first victim and the one who invited it in, though Dylan may have influenced him to do so.
  • Red Shirt Army: Between responding to AWEs and containing and researching OoPs and Altered Items, the mortality rate among FBC personnel is so insanely high that almost none of them bat an eye at the fact their headquarters is being invaded by an hostile supernatural force.
  • Refuge in Audacity: One of FBC's methods of maintaining the Masquerade is secretly funding a radio show that discusses AWEs in vivid detail and then blames them on an alien invasion.
  • Regenerating Shield, Static Health: Armored Hiss are surrounded by Deflector Shields that slowly regenerate if you fail to damage their health bar for too long. Hiss Warped are particularly bad about this because their shield is extremely strong and regenerates completely after only a few seconds, giving you only short openings to actually damage the monster.
  • Resolved Noodle Incident: In Alan Wake, it is implied that there is a small group of people in Bright Falls that knows about weird occurrences there (the Taken being the most overt) and are tasked with notifying each other, three of its members being Sheriff Sarah Breaker, her father Frank and the radio-host Pat Maine. Here, we find out that not only does the Federal Bureau of Control have Bright Falls on its list of Places of Power, but that Frank Breaker was a former member of the Bureau, implying that this small group act as unofficial informants for any Altered World Events there.
  • Respawning Enemies: The game spawns some waves of Hiss every couple of times you transit between locations, even in areas you've already been through. Useful for farming resources and mods, not so useful when you're just exploring or searching for collectibles. Downright frustrating in locations where the natural cover takes you behind the spawn line, so you retreat to the high ground, fight off all the Hiss, and then try to advance, only for the exact same mob to respawn.
  • Right Hand Versus Left Hand:
    • The Federal Bureau of Control has various sectors that each specialize in certain fields that are each integral to the Bureau's overall mission. Because of this overspecialization model, combined with the increasing intricacies and red tape that comes with clearance levels, schisms emerge between departments and complications arise when staff of one department are kept from sharing information to the others. This is brought to its natural conclusion when it was revealed that the Hiss was able to invade after it and Dylan fed on Trench's preexisting paranoia towards the rest of the Bureau, Darling unwilling to tell anyone aside from create a limited number of HRAs in a desperate attempt at helping regardless and the rest of the Bureau completely in the dark in matters involving the Ordinary Incident and the Slide-Projector.
    • In AWE, it's revealed that while the Investigation Sector demanded compensation from the rest of the Bureau when Dr. Hartman broke containment and began massacring the staff stationed there, Trench refused on the grounds that they insisted on having unregulated custody of the tainted Hartman despite such matters being for the Containment Sector.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: In Dead Letters and the Mail Room, several documents describe an AWE taking place at the US Embassy in Havana, in which several members of diplomatic staff experience symptoms such as eardrums popping. Tommasi's propaganda spins it to put the blame on sonic weaponry. This is based on an actual incident which occurred in late 2017.
  • The Runaway: Jesse spend most of the past seventeen years on the run after FBC captured her brother, although she was also in a mental institution for at least part of that time.
  • Rule of Drama: The Movie Camera altered item, the inciting object of a side quest in the Foundation DLC, exaggerates any remotely interesting local circumstances into an action set piece in a short term break from reality. It produces a titled VHS tape recording of the scenario after the fact, edited into a short film.
  • Rule of Three: The Oceanview Motel operates on threes - you have to pull the cord three times to enter or exit it, and most of the puzzles which grant you the keys to get back involve moving objects in all three accessible rooms, which have doors that only open when you ring the door bell (at least three times in total). And you have to go through the Dream Sequence where you're a secretary three times before you succeed.
  • Scenery Porn:
    • While much of The Oldest House was repurposed into mundane office space, its actual layout tends to be expansive and ornate, seemingly in contradiction to its harshly minimalist architectural style. Remedy developers explained that while designing many rooms, they were formulated as if they were churches rather than offices, with new areas usually featuring some kind of enormous altarpiece to gaze at before The Hiss begins attacking.
    • The Black Rock Quarry has a gorgeous night sky. Which is a bit worrisome since it's hundreds of feet underground. There's even a running gag that while it's technically "outside", the "no smoking indoors" policy still applies.
  • Schmuck Bait: In one room in the Containment Sector (and again in a small cave in Foundation), there's an Item Chest very conspicuously placed in the center of the room. Opening it summons a horde of over a dozen flying Hiss. At least the devs had the decency to put a very subtle Hiss haze on these chests, giving you some advance warning if you're sufficiently attentive (and paranoid).
  • Science Marches On: In-universe. In the Case Files the documentation for the Altered carnival hammer and "The Oscillator" fan found very early in the Bureau's existence, a.k.a The '50s, notes that they have been rewriten to remove outdated terminology. These files are also the only ones to include a magical term: "thaumaturgical".
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Langston is rather miffed about the previous Director's approach to the rules when asked about him.
    Did you know that the Bureau has a no-smoking policy? It does. Just not for Trench.
  • Sdrawkcab Speech: In the Mirror, all dialogue spoken by Jesse is reversed. Her internal monologue remains unaffected. An audio log also sits outside the Mirror, with the interviewer failing to get any answers to her questions out of the ranger that just left the Mirror because his speech is reversed. When you find the same audio log inside the Mirror, the interviewer's speech is reversed and the ranger's speech is forward.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Oldest House serves as a containment building for multiple supernatural and potentially dangerous items the FBC has collected.
  • Seen It All:
    • A lot of the FBC employees you encounter have a very calm attitude towards the situation they're now in; it's clear that while the Hiss is the worst incursion in the Bureau's history, this isn't exactly their first rodeo. Likewise, everybody takes the fact that Jesse is the new Director without any sort of questions or fuss.
    • Jesse grows into this by the end of the game, becoming less and less shocked by the bizarre things she encounters. Lampshaded when she defeats late-game Bonus Boss Mold-1: "I need to stop being surprised by all the weird shit in this place."
  • Self-Duplication: The power of the Waist Mannequin. As said in its description of its effect:
    The item duplicates. The trigger [...] is unknown. No correlation can be found in either the number of duplications that manifest during an episode or the duration for which they last before disappearing.
  • Sequel Hook: More of a DLC Hook. After being helped by Jesse, Marshall leaves immediately afterwards, saying that she needs to protect something the Hiss absolutely must not be allowed to find. By the end of the game, she hasn't returned, and nobody's sure where she went or what her status is. Exactly what she went to protect, and where she went, is detailed in the Foundation DLC.
    • The ending of Foundation provides a few. After defeating the Hiss-Infected Marshall, Jesse decides to play along with the Board, at least until she knows more about them. Additionally, it's shown that the Former has escaped the Astral Plane and is now loose in the Foundation. Finally, the ending cutscene has Jesse and Emily speaking as the camera shows the black pyramid in the Executive Sector. As Jesse speaks about preparing for the next crisis, the camera tilts so the pyramid is rightside up (calling back to one of Ash's recordings), starts rumbling, and as it cuts to black a cracking can be heard...
    • The ending of AWE also provides a potential one for Alan Wake. After Jesse defeats The-Thing-That-Was-Once-Hartman, Langston tells her of an incoming signal of an AWE in Bright Falls, although remarks that it's from several years in the future, and they shouldn't get signals from the outside because the lockdown is still in effect. As the monitor shows it going to code red, another vision from Alan plays. Alan says that it's happening again. A return. The scene ends with another cut to black with one final line from Alan: "You have been warned..."
  • Set a Mook to Kill a Mook: Seize allows Jesse to force mooks to fight alongside her. Not only does this give you some additional firepower to work with (or healing if you Seized a Hiss Cluster), this also creates an additional target for enemies to focus onto, always handy during a crazy firefight.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Despite Jesse having shut down the Slide Projector and cleansed Dylan of the Hiss, all that really did was stop any more Hiss from coming through the portal. The ones that had already come through are still infesting the Bureau and must be exterminated before the lockdown can be lifted, and Dylan is in a coma that he might never wake up from as a result of Jesse's cleansing.
  • Shoot the Medic First: Whenever a Hiss Cluster appears, it's a good idea to take it out or use Seize to take control of it first. Luckily, the Hiss don't follow this Trope when you get it on your side.
  • Short-Range Shotgun: The Shatter form of the Service Weapon. Obliterative to about ten feet out, and then anemic beyond that. At least, until you get the "One-Way Track" mod from the AWE DLC, but then it's not really a shotgun anymore.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Jesse's opening monologue is built around the metaphor of a poster on a prison wall covering a hole, and her knowing there are things behind the poster; she specifically says that she's thinking of a prison film while explaining it. Becomes a Brick Joke when after beating the game and loading into the postgame, Jesse finally remembers the name of the film.
    • An America Overnight broadcast suggests seeing colors you have no name for as a possible haunting, which sounds like a reference to The Colour Out of Space.
    • You can find a very familiar-looking Crowbar in the Panopticon.
    • In the "Objects of Power" Board call over the Hotline, the Board will refer to the objects as "Holders".
    • You can find Trench's diploma hanging on the wall of the Director's Office in the Take Control Mission, with the line "One morning, when Zachariah Trench woke from troubling dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin", a reference to Kafka's The Metamorphosis.
    • The idea of a top-secret facility that specializes in researching interdimensional occurrences (that ends up being the target of a trans-universal invasion) is also very reminiscent of Black Mesa. The characters even talk about "resonance" playing a role in the disaster, possibly referencing the Resonance Cascade.
    • Threshold Kids seems inspired by Creepypasta such as Candle Cove (and various SCPs), down to having an unintentionally terrifying skeleton character, Mr. Bones, who appears in "When You're Caught in a House Shift".
    • One AWE report references people experiencing trans-corporeality when interacting with a landline telephone. For a bit of depth to this Shout-Out, Remedy's first hit Max Payne incorporated Bullet Time mechanics into its combat system, as popularized by the film.
    • Jesse in her mind speaks to an unseen figure in a way that is very similar to how Elliot speaks to an unseen person throughout the show Mr. Robot.
    • Dylan accuses Jesse or Polaris of being "a copy" "of a copy of a copy".
    • Of all things, Dylan sings "baby, baby, baby, yeah".
    • There is the "Large Scale HRA" Darling Presentation of Dr. Darling presumably from just before... whatever happens to him where he reflects on a life-changing experience he is about to face, during which he recites the line commencing countdown, Major Tom. He also compares his situation to David Bowman's encounter with the Monolith.
    • A hidden location within Central Research has a blackboard with the word "Blue" written on it, along with the chemicals "phenylacetic acid", "acetic acid" and "phenylacetone", and the note "reductive amination". This all matches Walter White's new meth cooking recipe in Breaking Bad.
    • The artifact that grants you flight was found bound by a man seen flying over buildings in [REDACTED], Kansas.
    • More than a few to one major inspiration, House of Leaves:
      • Jesse is constantly called "the new Director", a reoccuring character and Madness Mantra in one section of the book - specifically, letters written from an insane mother to her child. The new Director in the book likely accelerated her madness to the point she imagined the entire plot of House of Leaves and a major protagonist - not far off from Alan Wake being responsible for the events of Control.
      • The Oldest House is a primordial thing that can barely be called a house - it's just called that because it's the closest appropriate description, not unlike the House from the book.
      • The red light that floods Hiss contaminated areas might be a reference to the Minotaur from House of Leaves, which is never seen but its name is always colored red.
    • The repetitive hotel interiors of the Ashtray Maze were directly inspired by the main setting of Barton Fink. The blink-and-you'll-miss-it presence of shoes placed perfectly in front of the endless doors is a visual directly lifted from the film.
    • America Overnight, with its focus on kooky callers reporting paranormal oddities, is a take-off on Art Bell's Coast to Coast PM, which does the same exact thing.
  • Show Within a Show:
    • Threshold Kids, though it looks less like an actual show and more like someone's deranged idea of what a kids' show looks like.
    • America Overnight, a late-night radio show where listeners can call in to tell of their own paranormal encounters. It's actually secretly owned and operated by the FBC, and they use it as part of a disinformation campaign to make people not believe in the paranormal by broadcasting calls from delusional crazies. Plus, on the rare occasion that someone calls in with a story that's actually true, the FBC become alerted to it and can go investigate.
    • Unless You, a book that the Book Club had been reading when the Hiss incident started. It's clearly an Altered Item that appears different to each reader since in each member's review of the book, it's described with a completely different genre and plot. Samson describes it as a military science fiction novel, Lopez describes it as a dystopian YA romance novel, and Phillip describes it as a horror novel. The only consistent thing between the three is that the antagonist is called "The Fix" (or "Fixers" in Samson's review), described as invading aliens that use brain worms to convert people to their side in Samson's review, a deadly virus spreading across the entire world in Lopez's review, and an Eldritch Abomination in Phillip's review (What do we know that's all three of those things and has a similar name?) All three book club members wind up suffering fates identical to characters they mentioned in their review: Samson complains that his favourite character randomly died for no reason less than halfway through the book when a gravitational anomaly launched a battery cylinder into his face — he was killed by the rampaging Floppy Disk launching a (cylindrical) pneumatic tube capsule into his face, much less than halfway through the game. Lopez praises the protagonist for dying a "good soldier's death" alone and surrounded by danger after telling her love interest to go on and save the world without her, never losing sight of the true goal even though it was the end for her — she dies alone and surrounded by danger fighting Hiss in Quarry Site Beta after her entire squad was slaughtered, but never lost sight of her true goal and recorded several messages for the FBC warning them of the danger before she died. Phillip wonders what happened to a character who was ordered to go watch some security monitors and then was never mentioned again — he's the guy Jesse meets watching the Fridge.
    • In the Foundation DLC, you can find the recording of a single episode of Brian's Movie Den, a non-FBC-affiliated and very amateur podcast that reviews obscure films. The episode features Brian reviewing a very surreal title by Blessed Pictures titled Delivery Disaster, which according to him mostly consists of a mailman driving down an endless suburbia, throwing out packages marked by his bloody handprints as he's chased down and violently torn apart by dogs, and periodically looking at the camera and screaming towards the audience. Based on other background text of Blessed Pictures, it's strongly implied that the film (and other films distributed by the "studio") were shot using an altered movie camera with reality-warping capabilities, with the footage being of an actual mailman who was thrust into a dangerously dramatic scenario conjured up by the camera and ended up hospitalized from it.
  • Side-Effects Include...: When obtaining the X-Ray Light Box, you can find a recording of a pre-Astral dive check, called "Astralnaut Liability". The preparer adds a disclosure listing a number of possible side effects, including normal (death, dementia) and... weirder (corporeal untangling, loss of ego...).
  • Signed Up for the Dental:
    • Fred Langston, the Panopticon Supervisor (in other words, the guy in charge of making sure all the dangerous Altered Items don't escape containment), when asked about "Working at the Bureau", freely admits that the only reason he's not working at the post office right now is because the FBC had better health insurance.
    • The Board says that it has a "Better Health Plan" as a reason you should side with it instead of FORMER. Considering that this is a garbled translation of The Board's true meaning, it's very likely that this is meant as a threat.
  • Silly Song: Within Jesse's mind, Jesse finds an In-Universe music video featuring the (still live-action) Darling and Trench rocking it out to a slightly reworked version of "Dyna-mite" by the UK glam rock band Mud, even featuring a title caption and supposedly being produced by "Federal Bureau of Control Records." It's so outrageously silly and complimenting of Jesse that she has to comment on how weird it is... then remembers that this is taking place inside her own mind, so really she's the weirdo who came up with it.
  • Simple, yet Awesome: the Damage Boost weapon mod, nothing fancy about it but it's extremely effective. It has a surprisingly high damage increase but there's no additional condition such as requiring a headshot or needs the Pierce weapon to be aimed. Damage Boost also works on every weapon form unlike a number of mods that are available only to a single form.
  • Sinister Geometry:
    • Even without taking the mind-bending properties of the Oldest House into account, its Brutalist architectural style uses lots of hard lines and sharp corners for an ominous look.
    • The Board that appoints the new Director is represented by a downward-facing pyramid, and speaks in noise that's only intelligible in subtitles, with lines like "Now you/we wield the gun/you".
  • Sliding Scale of Gameplay and Story Integration: During the final level, the Hiss traps Jesse in her own head, forcing her to live out the life of a low-level lackey in the Bureau until she fights against them. During this time, you're given the same menial tasks to do as objectives, over and over and over, that reset once you complete them. Blindly following them will get you nowhere until you wander around and find a certain trigger in the environment. In other words, both Jesse and the player need to refuse to do what they're told and take control of their own existence. Just don't catch on too early or you'll try to break out of the trap before you've done enough chores to make the item you need appear.
    • In the side quest "Fridge Duty", you enter a containment cell with a refrigerator that must be looked at constantly, otherwise it'll attack whoever is in the vicinity. If you do not keep the fridge in view with the game's camera, you will take damage.
  • Socketed Equipment: The Service Weapon has a slot to put weapon mods on. This is the only way to improve the abilities of a Service Weapon's form. When a weapon form is upgraded, there's no improved stats but what there is an extra slot to put more mods on (3 slots at maximum upgrade). Weapon Mods will stack even if they're the same type, this allows the Service Weapon to develop strong specialization at the cost of versatility.
  • Sound-Only Death: When Jesse approaches the door to the Director's Office, a gunshot rings out from the inside. She opens the door to find Trench already dead.
  • Spear Carrier: Carla Vaughn and Hubert Tan, the two silent extras that appear in Darling's presentations, mostly as set dressing. You can find a letter from Tan to Vaughn where he wonders why Darling has them do it, and spins it into asking her out to dinner. A letter from her lets him down pretty gently, but makes it clear she's absolutely not interested.
  • Spelling for Emphasis: Fra tries this when attempting to get across what he wants to Jesse. Unfortunately, due to his Word Salad vocabulary, it doesn't quite work.
    Fra: Head! A-S-B-E! Head!
  • Spiritual Successor: Control is one to Alan Wake, as both are third-person shooters focused around the exploration of a secret occult world lurking beneath reality and explore the juxtaposition of the horrific against the crushingly mundane. Makes sense, as Control is actually a Stealth Sequel to Alan Wake, as noted below.
  • Stealth Sequel: The AWE DLC essentially establishes Control as a de facto sequel to Alan Wake by the heavy implication that Alan wrote the events of the game into reality, including Jesse, the HBC and the Hiss, to create a heroine capable of rescuing him and defeating the Dark Presence once and for all.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • The Floppy Disk that contained Soviet nuclear codes grants the Launch power. The Board even refers to it as a "Nuke".
    • Fra, an alien that took the form of a sentient spacesuit, is missing his head/helmet, and wants you to go find it and return it to him. Where is it located? In the Head Office, of course!
  • Strong Flesh, Weak Steel: A variation. You can telekinetically throw all kinds of things at enemies, including rocks, furniture, and even construction vehicles, but most of these will be outdamaged by simply throwing enemy corpses instead, once you unlock the upgrade enabling this.
  • The Stoic: Helen Marshall is very matter-of-fact about the fact that Trench is dead and also speaking to Jesse from beyond the grave. In fact, very little about her current situation fazes her.
  • Subliminal Seduction: Like "Balance Slays the Demon" before it, "Take Control" contains backmasked messages.
    In their drunken fever state, seeing double, profoundly. The pyramid in the stone file becomes a spruce tree.Explanation 
    A diamond will tell you where. 1, 19, 7, 1, 18, 4, 9, 19.Explanation 
    Landing on the polar star and rushing on to the red room, find the cord to take you to a secret rendezvous.Explanation 
  • Subverted Kids' Show: You can find various episodes of a puppet show called Threshold Kids. It looks like somebody took Candle Cove and gave it even less of a budget than it already had, while removing none of the horror. To get you started on the insanity, here's episode one: Topher comes to visit their friend Meg, who's sad. She tells Topher that her mom died and the Director has "blacked out everything". Topher mentions that his momma went "missing in actions" and that he wishes someone would find her. Meg seems... really into the idea of going to look for her, and then camera holds for an uncomfortable amount of time as she stares right into your soul. After watching it, you'd be forgiven for thinking that it's some kind of malicious Altered Item that had gotten loose and that it's going to kill you horribly, but it's actually supposed to be a genuine, unironic kid's show that was made for the purposes of educating Dylan Faden in the paranatural. It's just that it was made by FBC staff, who are so completely removed from "normal" that they looked at the horrifying abomination they had created and genuinely saw nothing wrong with it, since they're most likely used to seeing even more horrifying abominations on a daily basis.
  • Stumbled Into the Plot:
    • Underplayed; while Jesse was in New York deliberately to search for the FBC, it's a coincidence that she just so happened to walk into the Oldest House while the Hiss invasion was ongoing. It's implied that Polaris led her there because of the Hiss incursion, after years of refusing to do so.
    • A file implies this isn't an uncommon occurence. You have to be specifically looking for the House to find it, and people wandering in almost always have some kind of connection to some case, to the point where there's a standard operating proceedure to handle the interrogations of people who enter.]]
  • Supernatural Phone: The Hotline is a Bakelite phone that allows one to communicate with the Board (and also, in Jesse's case, with Trench's last memories). Apparently, if a non-Director tries to use it, it causes "permanent psychic damage".
  • Swiss Army Gun: The Service Weapon can shift between a range of forms, while retaining the same overall size. It's also used to activate the directorial override and remove the internal lockdown in the Oldest House.
    • Revolvers Are Just Better: Grip, the base form, resembles a basic revolver and is a solid all-around weapon, although in-game it handles more like a semiauto handgun.
    • More Dakka: Spin has several parts of the gun spin around each other like a minigun, with a high rate of fire. Several Spin-specific mods are devoted to increasing its fire rate even more, or tighten the shot grouping for better accuracy at longer ranges
    • Shotguns Are Just Better/Sawed-Off Shotgun: Shatter is short, but different chunks of the Service Weapon spread out to allow for more shots at once, like a shotgun. Mods exist to increase the number of pellets fired by up to 15 per shot, letting it deal extreme damage at point-blank range. It additionally has a specialized Choke mod, that tightens the shot cone for better accuracy at range.
    • BFG/Sniper Pistol: Pierce takes time to charge up, but its shots pass through walls and other enemies and can kill most enemies with one hit. Some of its mods increase its damage and the amount the camera zooms in when aiming, letting it serve as a makeshift sniper rifle. Otherwise it works much like a very powerful magnum revolver when firing from the hip.
    • Stuff Blowing Up: Charge shoots hi-ex missiles with minor homing capabilities, and you can hold the trigger to shoot up to three at once.
    • Grenade Launcher: The AWE DLC adds Surge, another explosive weapon form that shoots sticky, remotely triggered grenades.
  • Talkative Loon: The Hiss and those infected by it have a strange Word Salad Madness Mantra they repeat on loop.
  • Talking to Plants: One of Ahti's "What a Mess" side quests, "Talk to the Plants" has Jesse doing as the quest name suggests. She goes around Central Research and makes small talk to plants. The plants don't talk back, but they do react to her words by perking up. For added Cringe Comedy, Jesse is self-admittedly lacking in conversation skills, leading to gems like this:
    I... hope your day has been productive, little plant.
    I wish my leaves were as pretty as yours.
  • Telephone Teleport: The Emergency Call Summary and Supplement imply this is what's meant by "transcorporeality", and the caller has movement within the wires:
    Voice: I'm, um, inside the wires. I'm lost.
    [Dispatcher]: Ma'am, have you been drinking tonight?
    Voice: I feel like I'm stretching through the wire. Towards you. Don't hang up. I might go if you hang up.
  • Tennis Boss: FORMER has a variation of this where the energy orbs they throw at you can be grabbed and Launched into its weak point for a lot of damage.
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted: Jesse had seen one in the past, but she was a very bad one who kept insinuating ideas to Jesse rather than listening to her. Given how tapes of their conversations can be found within the FBC itself, it's implied that the therapist was an FBC plant deliberately gaslighting her, but it's also possible that she was just very bad at her job.
  • Third-Person Person: Played for Drama when Jesse first speaks to Dylan, and he speaks about himself in third person, claiming it's because after what Trench and Marshall did to him, he's no longer Dylan. He reverts to first person after a short while, though.
  • Timed Mission:
    • Whenever a Bureau Alert comes up, you have twenty minutes to deal with it, regardless of whether or not you've accepted the mission right away, and dying instantly fails the Alert.
    • The side mission that unlocks the Shield ability forces you to navigate an obstacle course in less than 60 seconds. Fortunately, you can retry it as often as necessary.
  • Title In: Whenever you enter a named location for the first time, its name appears suddenly in bold white letters across the entire screen.
  • Troll: The pair of guards around Langston bizarrely speak in a robotic monotone which gets on Langston's nerves. Don't worry, they're completely normal people, it's just a deliberate act specifically to annoy him.
    Guard 1: So when are we gonna stop with the robot thing?
    Guard 2: When it stops being funny!
  • Unique Items: Most mods are random drops, some rarer than others, some with better stats, but not one of a kind. There are six exceptions, five weapon mods (one for each Service Weapon mode other than Surge) and one personal mod, all but one added as part of the AWE DLC and found in Investigations. Don't sell them or deconstruct them, because there's no way to get them back short of restarting the chapter from Mission Select.
    • The Eternal Fire mod is the only unique mod in the base game, a Grip mod which serves as the reward for unmarked quest in Maintenance. Grip shots that hit their target no longer deplete ammo.
    • Spam Mail grants Spin a stacking, short-term +100% damage buff each time you kill an enemy. It's the reward for keeping a Chain Letter going. It's lucky for Jesse, at least.
    • Pierce, already a powerful magnum/Sniper Pistol, gets Custodial Readiness, which negates the normal charge-up time for each shot. Still slow, but that much faster. Ahti awards it for completing his task board in Investigations.
    • The One-Way Track mod turns Shatter into another magnum, lower damage and shorter range than Pierce but with more ammo. It reduces spread by -100%, effectively turning Shatter's many small projectiles into one big one, and is the reward for putting the Ghost Train that is the Eagle Limited to rest.
    • For returning his "head", the anomalous being Fra in the Eagle Limited AWE gives you Thin Space, which makes the projectile speed for Charge effectively instantaneous, increasing it by +1000%.
    • Aerobics is a personal mod, +10 Health every time you Evade. You receive it it you somehow manage to figure out the extremely obtuse clock puzzle in the bowels of Investigations, which most players never find.
  • Unsafe Haven:
    • A tape about Building Shifts mentions that the personnel caught up in them should hide in Safe Rooms, which protect them from the various supernatural influences. The first Safe Room you open contains a person possessed by the Hiss.
    • A later Safe Room turns out to have been hollowed out from the back as the exit to a tunnel which leads to the Anchor, which naturally leads one to wonder if the vault doors are just there as a placebo.
    • At least one Safe Room is full of mold. There aren't any Mold Hosts inside it which rules out the possibility that it got in through a Zombie Infectee who ate mold and then went inside before turning, it somehow got in there all by itself despite there being no trace of mold anywhere outside the Safe Room.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Ultimately, this dubious honor goes to Neil, Dylan and Jesse's childhood friend. They'd let him play with the slide projector and it was his confession of this to bullies beating him up that led to said bullies stumbling upon the "Not-Mother" that caused the Ordinary AWE.
  • Utility Magic: The Hotline is an Object of Power that manifests as a bright red rotary telephone, its purpose being able to receive phone calls from beyond our dimension.
  • Verbal Tic: The Board has a Confusing/Annoying habit of lacing their Messages/Orders with Ambiguous/Contradictory/Absurd word associations. Do their Untranslatable/Otherworldly communications make them Obviously Evil, or just ambiguous entities from another plane? Yes/Yes.
  • Videogame Dashing: Evade lets you quickly dash across short distances. Jesse can also air dash after jumping, and while levitating. Timed right, it can be used to break long falls.
  • Visible Invisibility: Hiss Distorted only drop their invisibility cloak a split-second before they launch their devastating shockwave attack, and reengage it almost immediately afterwards. Fortunately, paying close attention to the lingering Hiss haze in the air still allows one to keep track of their movements, although this usually only works if they're the last enemy in the area due to how well they blend in with the background.
  • Voice of the Legion: Dylan speaks in half a dozen voices when the Hiss is talking through him.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: The first fight with Tommasi is the first one you can't win simply by running around and shooting, forcing you to learn some basic strategy. His attacks hit hard and are undodgeable, forcing you to take cover to avoid them. He can't be taken down before the Service Weapon needs to recharge, so you need to keep a close eye on your ammo. The few mooks that spawn are closer to a help than a hinderance thanks to the health pickups they spawn. And because he's the first Hiss Elevated you encounter, you learn to quickly correct your aim when he dodges to one side or another.
  • Warp Whistle: Jesse can teleport between Control Points — and not just in the Fast Travel "She's going to make her way to the location through means we just aren't going to bother showing" way, she explicitly describes herself as teleporting when talking with Pope. According to Pope, this is an unprecedented ability.
  • Was Once a Man: Every single Hiss mook you fight, even the weirdest-looking ones, was a normal FBC employee mere days or even hours before you run into them. Considering that the "kill 1,000 Hiss" achievement usually pops around halfway through the game, it's best not to think about the horrific toll in human lives the Hiss exacts on the FBC simply by being there.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: In AWE, there is no mention of the Board at all throughout the DLC despite Jesse having issues with them being a big Sequel Hook left in The Foundation.
  • Wham Line: From the AWE DLC, we have several lines implying that Alan Wake set the events of Control in motion, up to and including creating the Hiss as a substitute for the Dark Presence, so that Jesse can presumably help him escape from the Dark Place.
    The Missing Parautilitarian: Wake needed a hero. A hero needed a crisis. For the part in the story about the government agency, Wake needed something special. Something to convey an alien force mimicking human intelligence. Something that can't be translated. Translated! Wake channeled Burroughs and Bowie. He cut up sentences and words. "Orange Peel." "You are home." "Insane." He put them in a shoebox. He pulled out the words. Wake created a Dadaist poem. He'd try anything once. Or had he tried this before?
  • Where It All Began: Invoked by Jesse when she realizes that her next stop in the Oldest House is the Bureau's reconstruction of her Doomed Hometown of Ordinary: searching for her brother across the country finally led her to the FBC, and inevitably back to a semblance of the hometown where the paranatural first entered her life.
    Jesse: We're going back home... Of course we are. It started there and it's never gone away.
  • Whispering Ghosts: The Hiss' non-violent victims are talking all the time, though it's difficult to decipher what they're saying, let alone understand it, because they all talk over each other and slightly out of sync. As the Oldest House is filled with them, their mumbling is a near-constant presence unless you shoot them.
  • Word-Salad Horror: The Hiss' Madness Mantra is essentially a weaponized form of this.
  • Word-Salad Humor: The Fra Mauro AWE features what may or may not be an alien that talks this way. Cheerful, friendly, completely incomprehensible.
  • World Tree: The Board has dialog that implies the Oldest House is this, calling the Foundation of the House its "Roots"; this would also match some Finnish myths in which the mysterious, oft-mentioned but never described artifact known as the Sampo is a pillar or tree which reaches to the sky, said to be pinned in place by the north star (Polaris). The shifting nature of the House is fitting, given that part of the inspiration for this game is House of Leaves. Files from Dr. Ash corroborate this, as he finds diagrams that look like the Tree of Life and he theorizes that since New York used to be a forest, it was unlikely the Oldest House took the form of a Brutalist-style skyscraper in ancient times.
  • Wreaking Havok:
    • The Launch ability lets you throw random objects around willy-nilly, and environments have an impressive amount of destructibility. Large-scale fights are liable to leave the room completely trashed. If you unlock Launch all the way, you will be able to throw what is described as 'large' objects, which includes propane-powered forklifts. Suffice to say, you don't want to throw one of those at an enemy which is too close to you.
    • One additional, partly-unintentional quirk thanks to the physics programming is that the enemy-damaging collision of the objects you can grab begins as soon as they start moving from Jesse's pull, meaning they can hit enemies while en route to Jesse's side. It can be tricky to pull off, but with good positioning, you can get a free extra hit while saving yourself energy with this method, and it's regularly employed by speedrunners to efficiently maximize their damage.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: In the Panopticon, Jesse comes across a man who has been watching a fridge, unable to move or look away due to the fact that something bad will happen if he looks away, and has been there for over a day due to the Hiss incursion. Even Langston forgot about him. Jesse, meanwhile, is in the middle of finally tracking down her brother's location, and on top of that needs to clean up an altered item wreaking havoc on the same floor, so she can't immediately help with the fridge problem. When you do get the ability to help him, he looks away from the Fridge for long enough that he's turned into a red stain on the concrete by the time you get into the room.
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: Downplayed. One collectible mentions that time passes differently between the Astral Plane and our world, so video taken from astralnauts' dives can last longer than the time they spent diving in the real world. There are posters on the walls stating that this change in time perspective doesn't count as overtime.
  • You Are in Command Now: Jesse is basically appointed to be the new Director of the FBC after the previous one is found dead, despite her never having been a part of the organization. She's also rather confused how all of the FBC staff seem to accept her without question, especially since they kidnapped her brother.
  • You Are Number 6: Dylan claims that Trench and Marshall told him that his only name is P6. Completing this section of the story gets Jesse an outfit for her own designation, P7.
  • Your Head Asplode: This is how the Astral Spike first manifested in our reality, killing an astralnaut by emerging from his head — you can even find a recording of this event in the section of Containment devoted to the Ordinary AWE.
  • Zombie Apocalypse:
    • Hiss-infected are, for the most part, very weird zombies. Many Hiss-affected look dead, look decayed, or are heavily mutated/mutilated, and are very mindless. Having an HRA doesn't guarantee protection from the Hiss, and a Ranger you meet who becomes Hiss-infected has their mission framed suspiciously like a Zombie Infectee trying to hold off a bite. One of Dylan's dreams is the Hiss spreading across the world like an outbreak.
    • Another enemy faction, the Mold, has its converted stumble about like fungal zombies: ludicriously tough, but slow and dumb as hell, and also with a theme of decay.


Video Example(s):


The Benicoff TV

The Benicoff TV is one of several Objects of Power Jesse encounters in the main story, finding it possessed by the Hiss in the Panopticon. While normally the object is only known to float around, when Jesse tries to cleanse it, it warps the cell that its in to where it becomes much bigger, levitating larges chunks of concrete and creating an entirely different room that remains there for the rest of the game. When Jesse cleanses it of the Hiss's influence, she is able to bind it and gains the power to levitate.

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Example of:

Main / OminousTelevision

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