Remedy Entertainment’s "Control" is an incredibly ambitious title. Many of its environments are comprised of stark black and white geometric shapes that clash with one another within brutalist architecture. Its combat is filled with sleek flying, telekinetic powers, and energy bolts that send shards of concrete raining across the environment. One of the most striking elements of "Control," however, is the game’s cryptic narrative.
As players complete the game, they witness mind blowing paranormal entities and a terrifying presence from another reality. At the end of the day, they are left to piece together information about the world from reports filled with confounding redactions. Even when important entities such as the Board speak directly to protagonist Jesse Faden, they often do so in esoteric ways that are clouded with double meanings and riddles, leaving Jesse and the player both trying to figure out their meaning.
This tone and narrative delivery is part of what makes "Control" such a special and unique third-person shooter, but it can also leave some players confused or guessing as to what they were ultimately meant to take away from the experience. So, if you want to get a quick refresher — or just want to know what you just played — here is a full explanation for the ending of "Control."
The Federal Bureau of Control
Before we dive into the meat of the narrative, we have to start with the titular Federal Bureau of Control, or the FBC. The start of "Control" shows Jesse arriving at the mysterious headquarters of the elusive government agency. Jesse’s narration then reveals to the player that she was led to the FBC by a psychic influence that pushed her there, where she hopes to find information about her missing brother.
When Jesse first arrives at the FBC, it seems completely empty. The front desk and security checkpoints that greet newcomers are left completely unattended, meaning she is free to begin exploring the building as she wishes. While doing so, she enters the office of the FBC’s director Zachariah Trench just after he’s taken his own life. Inside the office, she is compelled to pick up the shapeshifting gun known as the Service Weapon. Doing so immediately makes her the FBC’s new director.
After being labeled as the Bureau’s new director and passing a test in the Astral Plane, Jessie finally finds some of the agents of the bureau. The only catch is that they are floating in the air in a catatonic state — and they fall to the ground and attack her when she gets close. Jesse then discovers that they have been possessed by a presence from another reality, which she starts calling the Hiss. The Hiss’ presence is signified by a red glow, and it is capable of possessing individuals and turning them into living weapons with unique abilities. But what does this all have to do with Jesse’s brother?
After finding pockets of survivors, Jesse agrees to help them in exchange for information regarding her brother Dylan. She then sets out on a campaign of cleansing sections of the FBC of the Hiss’ corruption. This mission eventually leads her to Dylan, who the FBC refers to as Prime Candidate 6. When Jesse finds Dylan, he is contained in a highly secure cell that isolates him completely from the outside world.
She learns that Dylan was brought to the FBC at an early age so that he could be groomed by them to become the perfect successor for director after Trench’s death. This plan was eventually abandoned, however, as the process saw him becoming too attuned with supernatural energies and abilities, which in turn made him incredibly dangerous. At one point he killed a handful of agents that were working on his case, which caused the FBC to change its mind about using him as a candidate for director.
Because of his power the FBC did not think that it was safe to let him go, however. The company decided to keep him as a prisoner deep within the FBC until he either died or the agency decided that it had a use for him.
Jesse’s fight against the Hiss eventually leads her to an obscured section of the FBC that holds a device known as the Hedron. Upon interacting with the Hedron, however, Jesse learns that it is actually the psychic presence she had named Polaris — the same presence that drew her to the FBC and has guided her throughout her journey. Finding Polaris and opening up the path to the chamber allows the Hiss to follow her in, attacking Polaris and eventually destroying it. Afterward, the Hiss infects Jesse.
While trying to break free of the Hiss, Jesse learns more about it. Chiefly, she learns that Trench was actually the first agent of the FBC who was infected by the Hiss while he was on an expedition into an unknown dimension. The Hiss then manipulated and used him to open the door to the rest of the FBC for the Hiss. Once the Board realized what had happened, they forced Trench to kill himself so that a new director could take control and try to save the organization.
Eventually, Jesse is also able to free herself from the control of the Hiss. She does so by discovering that the entity known as Polaris actually lives partly inside of her, which allows her to break free and resist the Hiss from then on.
Foiling Dylan and the Hiss
After freeing herself from the Hiss’ control, Jesse learns that Dylan being brought to the FBC was part of the Hiss’ plan. While he was contained, the Hiss was able to slowly corrupt him and convince him to help it, allowing it to use his natural proficiency to open a doorway to the Board itself. This is revealed to be the Hiss’ primary goal: to corrupt and either control or destroy the Board entirely. Without the Board and the Federal Bureau of Control in the way to stop it, there would be few forces in any dimension that could halt the Hiss’ expansion.
Jesse is ultimately able to prevent the Dylan and the Hiss from opening the doorway, however, and is even able to purge the Hiss from Dylan entirely, leaving him in a comatose state. This leaves the Hiss weakened, though it is still present in the FBC at the end of the game (which is why players still have to face the infected while they wrap up all those pesky side missions). Ultimately, Jesse is able to fully accept her role as the FBC’s new director and is intent on fulfilling the duties and responsibilities that are brought along with the title.
The first DLC released for "Control" was titled "The Foundation." It begins with Jesse continuing the fight against the Hiss when she learns about an object called the Nail, which tethers the FBC to the Astral Plane and other dimensions. The Board then tells her that the Nail has been weakened and is at risk of breaking completely, which would in turn sever the FBC’s ability to travel to other dimensions. Jesse strives to figure out what weakened the Nail and how to fix it.
While working to repair the Nail, Jesse meets an ex-member of the Board who goes by the name of the Former. The Former is another supernatural entity, but why it was removed from the Board is never known, but Jesse is strongly warned against trusting them. Regardless of its contentious history with the Bureau, the Former pledges to help Jesse and gives her access to new abilities that the Board had wanted to keep from her. This angers the Board and drives Jesse to become resolved to lessen their control and influence over the FBC. After cleansing the Nail of corruption, Jessie vows to lead the agency her own way, while allowing the Board to believe that they remained in control.
While a link between Remedy Entertainment’s "Alan Wake" and "Control" was teased in the base game, the existence of Remedy’s connected universe was explicitly developed in the latter game’s second DLC, "AWE." This story expansion is concerned with the dark entity from the lake that was at the center of the strange happenings in "Alan Wake," which has suddenly escaped the FBC’s containment. Having been infected by the Hiss, the entity rampages in a section of the FBC, preventing any agents from daring to enter.
Jesse learns about the presence’s freedom after being approached by a ghostly apparition of none other than Alan Wake himself, who has been trapped in a real called the Dark Place since the ending of "Alan Wake." As Jesse works to quell the dark entity and return it to captivity, she gets closer to Wake, and the writer eventually reveals that he played some role in the Hiss’ creation. During "Alan Wake," the title character began to realize that the things he wrote about were manifesting themselves as reality. He tells Jesse than he wrote about the Hiss so that his protagonist — Jesse herself — had a force to fight against and eventually overcome.
However, it remains unclear whether this fully explains the genesis of the Hiss, or just means that Alan influenced them slightly and perhaps began their invasion of the FBC as a consequence. It’s also unclear just how much sway Alan may continue to have over Jesse’s reality.
Objects of Power explained
Objects of Power play a critical role in the universe of "Control." These are mundane items that have become infused with supernatural energies. These events can be caused when an entity from another dimension slips through into our own, or due to some other power seeping into our reality. There seems to be no real limit to what an Object of Power is capable of doing or becoming, and many are seen throughout the game that do things like open dimensional doorways, house a terrifying monster, or carry a range of other possibilities.
Some Objects of Power can also be tied to certain agents of the FBC, which are known as parautilitarians. These agents, including Jesse, are able to use Objects of Power to gain access to abilities like telekinesis or mind control.
Throughout "Control," Jesse finds multiple objects of power spread throughout the FBC. These not only grant her new powers to use while fighting the Hiss, but also deepen her understanding of the FBC and its role in the world. As she does so, she also gets more comfortable with her role as the new director.As the events of the "Foundation" DLC play out, Jesse comes across some documents that heavily imply that the Objects of Power were originally created by the Board to gain greater control over the FBC and its efforts. This only serves to strengthen Jesse’s resolve to guide the FBC as a force for good.
The Federal Bureau of Control explained
While the FBC is at the core of the game’s story (and the entire multiverse around it), it is easy for players to miss a lot of the context and background of the Bureau, which it is mostly explored through lore attached to collectibles.
With that in mind, it is important to know that the Federal Bureau of Control is a clandestine agency that works independently of the United States government. Its headquarters is referred to as the Oldest House, which is located in New York City. However, the building is only noticeable by those who the building allows to see it, and its interior constantly shifts.
As Jesse explores the building in the game’s campaign, her connection to the Bureau is strengthened as she becomes more familiar with its layout and facilities. Her missions sees her restoring it to its "normal" appearance by cleansing Hiss control, earning the trust of the people working within the Oldest House, if not their cosmic overlords.
As explored in the Foundation, the Bureau also recently began losing its way in the years preceding "Control." Once the Board became involved in its affairs, the FBC started following its orders and whims much more closely, especially as it began deriving more and more of its equipment and capabilities from gifts given by the Board. This led to the FBC becoming little more than a tool manipulated by the Board.
The Hiss explained
A large part of what makes the Hiss frightening is how difficult it is to comprehend. There is a lot about the Hiss that remains unknown, even after completing everything in "Control" and its two DLCs. What is known is that the Hiss is a supernatural and virulent entity that stems from the same dimension as Polaris. It was encountered when the FBC explored its dimension, upon which it infected the bureau’s former director Trench and used him to gain access to the rest of the FBC.
It is also confirmed that Alan Wake’s writings played some role in the forming or origins of the Hiss, but exactly what he contributed to the force remains unknown. Throughout "Control," it is also evident that the Hiss is capable of not only corrupting and controlling people, but also of corrupting objects that have some form of supernatural energy or even changing the physical topography of locations. The Hiss’ actions throughout the game also imply that it is either an enemy of the Board or that it simply wishes to conquer and control as much as possible. With the Hiss still active in some areas of the Oldest House, it’s likely that Jesse will have quite a bit more to uncover in the future.
The power of belief and the SCP
One of the central themes of "Control" is the power held in belief. Reading through collectibles scattered throughout the game reveals that one of the reasons the power the supernatural entities and objects have been granted power is that enough people believe in them. In other words, if enough people believe in a creature like the Loch Ness Monster or Chupacabra, that belief alone can manifest it in the real world.
This is brilliantly interwoven into the universe of "Control," particularly in the ways in which it integrates elements from SCP into its universe. SCP is an online community that writes various horror stories to create a universal and open mythology of forbidden creatures and objects, which in turn fuel stories, videos, and even games for the community to enjoy. In much the same way, the Bureau is full of beings created by humanity’s collective consciousness.
The theme of belief is also explored by Jesse’s personal story. When she first becomes the director of the FBC, she does so reluctantly, just to get what she needs out of others. By the end of "Control," however, she believes that she really is the Bureau’s director, and accepts the role wholeheartedly. This is further expanded on in "The Foundation," which sees her believing in herself and her morals enough to reject the Board’s influence, all for the FBC’s betterment.
Where Control could go from here
Given how this universe is capable of supporting new dimensions and entities, a sequel could go anywhere. Of course, Remedy’s upcoming "Alan Wake 2" will likely add some interesting details to the shared universe, but even beyond that, there is almost infinite potential for new stories and experiences from Remedy.
With the Hiss still being a threat in the FBC, however, it seems likely that a "Control" sequel will include the interdimensional threat in some way. At the end of "The Foundation," the Former can also be seen in the FBC when Jesse returns, which could imply that it managed to escape the Astral Plane. Since the Former was friendly to Jessie previously, it could play either a supportive role in any future "Control" projects.
It also seems likely that any future titles featuring Jesse will further explore the relationship between Jesse and the Board, especially given the tensions between the two that were established in "The Foundation."