Control was one of the most beloved games of 2019 around these parts. It was my #2 game of the year, and it sure did pretty well on other folks’ lists and in our myriad end of year coverage. So much of what makes the game special is its world: Control takes place inside The Oldest House, a massive, brutalist office building that defies just about every possible law of physics. It changes, it morphs, it has so many passages to other dimensions and hosts so many… er, objects of power and other bizarre phenomena that I’m not sure anyone outside of the game’s level designers actually knows about every nook and cranny.
It’s not just the architecture — this is a world of paranatural phenomena. It’s all very SCP/The X-Files/Warehouse 13, with a healthy dollop of corporate humor and an even bigger dose of just plain weird humor, nowhere stronger than in the episodes of Threshold Kids that litter the office, on terrible old VHS tapes.
Inspired by such works of weird/off puppetry as Don’t Hug Me, I’m Scared and Kristin Lepore’s Hi Stranger, the Threshold Kids were a hard-fought, and utterly delightful part of Narrative Lead Anna Megill’s contributions to the game. I had the pleasure of speaking with her about her bizarro creation, which started as an idea to educate players on the wilder mechanics of the game and its world. She kept pushing the idea, and found a kindred spirit on Remedy’s Cinematic team in Mircea Purdea, who actually had a background in puppetry and building puppets. The rest was bold, bizarre history.
Check out my full interview with Megill here (and note, Megill no longer works at Remedy, so we kept the subject matter squarely on the puppets!), or you can download the episode at this link. Note also that this is a phone recording, so the audio is not studio-quality. Just think of it as a Threshold Kids tribute!