Sam Lake Interview: Remedy's Control

That's a great way of saying it! So, this is Remedy's first time on PS4. There was Max Payne 2 on PS2, but this is the first time on PS4.

Yes, we've been away for a while. We had a really nice time being exclusive and working with Microsoft, first with Alan Wake and then with Quantum Break. But we felt like now was the time to do something different. We are an indie studio. Taking a step back and thinking about it, we just want as many people as possible to have the possibility of playing our game. So, multi-platform made sense. And 505 Games, ya know, we started talking and felt they were a perfect partner for us to publish Control. Luckily, we also have a really nice relationship, through the years, with Sony. So E3 felt like a good step of making that statement, that we are on PS4, as well, to premiere the trailer at the PlayStation event.

You describe yourself as an indie studio. I love that, because no other games feel like Remedy games.

Thank you! That's what we really really strive towards. There is a lot of energy at Remedy. These days, we have two simultaneous productions going on. So, kind of, it feels like more talent and more energy than ever.

How do you maintain that identity, even though, since the old days of Max Payne 1, when you only had the budget to cast yourself as Max... And, who played Nicole Horne in that?

Nicole Horne was my mother.

Okay, I wasn't sure if that was just a rumor or not!

No, no. My dad was there, my brother was there.

And now you've got huge A-List talent.

Sure, but we still have friends and family in there, just for fun!

How do you maintain your independent spirit?

I feel that we do try to push ourselves, we try to experiment and bring in new elements, and always ask the question, "what is a Remedy game?" And, are these aspects serving us for this new thing? Are we leaving something behind? Are we bringing new elements in? But then, certain things just kind of, to me, have felt like a logical progression. As a storyteller, I wanted to use the dream element, of getting inside the head of our hero. That is, ya know, an interesting part of it. Voice over narration has been a consistent thing, as an example, but I try to come up with a different way of doing it each time. We're doing something different here, with Control. We have Jesse's inner voice in this. But there is some mystery and some weirdness happening with that. Right from the get-go, you kind of get that feeling of breaking the fourth wall, a bit like, is she talking to you as the player? What's going on? So we're trying to push and try out new things, but certain elements have, even if it changes the shape and style a bit, you can draw a link through these experiences. One big thing is technology. Remedy has always done its own tech and game engine and tools right from the beginning with Max Payne. Now we have the Northlight game engine (which also powered Quantum Break). The graphics and visual side is a really big thing for us. Finding a unique style for special effects, especially for an experience like Control, where there are a lot of mystical elements going on, how to kind of visualize that and bring it about. It takes a big team to create these experiences. Even if it's just me here, representing the team and talking about it, the team is such a huge, important thing, and brilliant people are working hard on it.

Max Payne 2 Bullet Dodge Screenshot

I wanna ask you one last question, going way back. It was very famous, the gap between Max Payne 2 and 3. And, ya know, obviously, you didn't write part three, you didn't work on that, but you worked on the comic, and I feel like it has your stamp on it, at least your stamp of approval.

Sure. Rockstar guys, Dan Houser and the others, they reached out to us at a certain point in development, and asked if we would be interested to play it through and give notes, which was really awesome and really nice from them. And it, to me, I mean, it most certainly looked like a Rockstar game. And it was their take on this idea, which was wonderful, I felt. It was much better in my mind to go that way than to try to maybe imitate too much what we would have done. So it was their take.

Max Payne 2 famously ended with... Even though everybody is dead except for Max and Bravura, but it says in the credits, "Max's journey through the night will continue." Were you ever working on anything internally?

No. Actually, how it went on the contract side, ya know, after the first game came out, the IP rights were sold to Take-Two and Rockstar, and part of that deal was an agreement that we would create the sequel. So, ya know, with that understanding, it was a nice situation. We have a lot of passion towards Max Payne. It was wonderful to create that, and to take certain ideas from the first one and... Making a sequel is great fun in many ways. But at the same time, that was all with the understanding that this will be the final Max Payne game for us. And you could kind of go through that emotional process while working on it, saying goodbye. So, from a creator's perspective, that was a really nice way to go.

It definitely feels like a game where all the cards were on the table. Thank you so much for your time.

More: Everything We Learned About Remedy's Control At E3 2018

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