Quantum Break is sure to divide gamers just as much as the game itself is divided into acts and chapters. The acts let you play through the story as the hero Jack Joyce played by Shawn Ashmore of X- Men fame, and the episodes are TV shows that show the goings-on at Monarch Solutions, the big bad corporation based in the city of Riverport that’s trying to manipulate time for the benefit of company director Paul Serene played by Aidan Gillen who you may have seen being a complete slime ball in Game of Thrones.
So it’s finally here, but what do I think of it? If you’ve played a Remedy game before then you’ll immediately see that a few familiar mechanics have carried through from Alan Wake and Max Payne. Using Jack’s Time Powers is reminiscent of playing the latter. Thanks to an accident at the university when your friend Paul switches on a time machine, you are both infused with Chronon particles which let you move through the time stutters as time breaks down and everybody else freezes in time. Not only does this present some really unique gameplay aspects and show off some stunning visuals, it also lets you do some unique things in combat. You may have seen similar actions in other games and here they’ve just put the word “time” in front of everything but you can use a time dash to move to a new spot of cover and shoot enemies from the side, create a time shield to stop bullets coming towards you for a limited time and fire a time stop burst at enemies, fire bullets into it to stack them up, then wait for it to disperse, filling your enemies with lead. The combat is fun when you string it all together but that’s all there is to it really.
There’s also an odd floaty feel to Jack which makes the gameplay feel a bit older than it should. It doesn’t really feel like he’s making contact with the floor and if you try to jump on objects that the game doesn’t want you to climb, you bounce off them. Remedy have also felt the need to add some instant death platforming sections where you need to rewind time and then move through it quickly to avoid falling or being crushed. You think they would have learned after all the negative feedback when you had to walk the red line in Max Payne all those moons ago.
Mixed with the combat are rather sparse areas where there is just a tonne of stuff to look at and read. If you’re an action junky you really won’t like this. You can of course choose to run through these areas but if you don’t stop to smell the roses, you will miss out on a lot of info that explains what the hell is going on. It’s almost a must to read through emails, notebooks and memos to be filled in on some of the TV show and the game that bend your brain thanks to all the time travel involved.
Facial capture is also great here. Because they had access to the actors for the show, everything has been fully captured so when characters talk, they pull faces and expressions that are close to what we’ve seen in LA Noire but just not as creepy.
So what’s the TV show like? Well, to be honest, I really liked it – more than the game itself in some respects. The acting is of a good standard, the effects aren’t quite Hollywood but in line with what you’d see in TV shows such as Fringe or Agents of SHIELD and the action plays out based on some decisions you make before each episode begins and includes some bits and bobs based on things you find or see in-game as well. For instance, you can either choose whether Monarch go down a PR or Hardline approach after the incident. You’ll get some slightly different scenes in the TV shows and a different character to support you throughout the game. It’s a bit disappointing that these decisions don’t effect things all that much. This being a very scripted story involving time travel, I’m not really surprised though. Is it enough to warrant more playthroughs? I’m not sure.
Quantum Break was an enjoyable ride for me. This pretend science and intrigue coupled with lots of Easter eggs and WTF moments had me gripped until the end. It’s just a shame that the gameplay wasn’t really there to support the show. Personally I would love to see a full TV show set around the city of Riverport and all the possibilities when you start playing around with time. Quantum Break gets 7.5 out of 10.
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