Quantum Break Review
Remedy Entertainment is a developer that I had heard about before, their acclaimed success with Alan Wake is evident that this studio knows how to deliver a great cinematic story experience. While I personally haven’t played Alan Wake entirely, I will say it was one of them games that got away from me in the last generation. I’m glad to say that with the release of Quantum Break, Remedy have bundled in Alan Wake within Quantum Break to those that preordered it and that gives me a chance to finally play it. Meanwhile Quantum Break is a new IP that has long been talked about how it can bring about a new breed of games that ties TV and games within the same mould as each other. Now if this is the future of how a games story is told, count me in!
Quantum Break’s story starts off with two characters sat at a table and it seems like an interview is being conducted, one character is asking the questions, she is an Asian woman named Clarice Ogawa and we don’t yet know her motives or who she really is. The other character is answering the questions. His name is Jack Joyce, one of our soon to be main characters. In the interview Jack talks of a fracture in time and why he needed to acquire a counter measure to stop the destruction of time itself. Clarice asks for him to just start at the beginning to where it all began.
Act 1 begins with Jack Joyce travelling in a taxi on his way to meet his old friend Paul Serene (who is the second main character) at the Riverport University, he gets dropped and gets a call from Paul, this is the first time the player gets control of Jack. Paul tells Jack to meet him at the physics department. If you stray from doing that and explore your surroundings as you make your way to Paul, you can find these objects which you can interact with called narrative objectives which are the games collectibles. These collectibles can be a whole host of different things and it is up to you to find them. Interacting with them gives you some narrative and some back story on why the things around you are happening. The narrative objectives in the first level gives you information on why the university that you a visiting is protesting against a certain corporation called Monarch Solutions which you will later get to know a lot about.
Anyways once you make it to Paul, Jack and him embrace. They both talk about how its been so long since they have spoke, Paul tells Jack about the project he has been working on called Project Promane which he says is going to change the world. He then mentions that he has taken Jacks brother William Joyce on as a consultant to the project. Paul mentions Will is pretty hard to work with and that Jack is the only person he can trust right now. By this point if you would have been collecting the narrative objectives and reading all of them, you would have already known who William Joyce is and why Paul cant trust his antics. As you make your way to his lab, you have the option to watch Paul’s PowerPoint explaining the importance of the project and the logistics behind it. If you chose to watch, you then make your way into his lab and Paul shows you what he has built. He says what you and him are about to do is not strictly legal but says anything they did together in the past hasn’t been either. Paul talks about the science of the machine and how its like a self contained black hole.
Jack and Paul both active the machine and Paul tells jack to remember this moment. The voices of Jack and Clarice bleed through into this scene as a narration. Jack talks about how Paul looked really nervous at the time and was under a lot of pressure to make this work by investors. The machine opens and outcomes a second Paul from the two minutes into the future, the project was a success. Paul then tells a confused Jack that to complete the cycle the first Paul needed to go into the machine. He then asks Jack that he is going to test the machine again and to put the settings to five minutes into the future. Once he steps in and the door closes Will enters the lab armed with a gun demanding that Paul turns the machine off. Will notices Jack who he had not seen in six years and tells him that this project will destroy time its self and bring an end to the world. Will pleads for Jack to trust him but realizes its to late and rushes to the controls to shut the machine off but before he can this a massive burst of energy explodes out of the machine with Paul still in it. The fracture in time has happened.
At this point time has froze which is called a stutter in the games terminology, Jack and Paul are fine, Paul goes into the machine to find a way out and Jack goes to help Will who is frozen, he unfreezes him but once he does that the stutter ends and armed guards storm the lab and begin shooting at the pair. Both escape the lab and make their way to Wills car which he needs to get to. As you are getting there the player has several gun battles and gets access to some of the time powers, this is the first chunk of real gameplay you get to engage in. Once jack gets to Wills car he cant get into it and Will ends up being captured and gets taken to the library on the complex. On the way there you meet Beth Wilder who is another character you will see more of in the later acts. More gun battles take place and you hear of Monarchs plan to steal the time machines core. Once you get to Will he says he will explain what’s happening soon and right now they need to escape but when doing so they both get captured in the hallways of the library. The leader then comes from the shadows to reveals himself to be Paul Serene who is decked out in military gear. He attacks Jack with his time powers and pleads with Will to stand down. Will refuses and Paul gives the command to trigger the explosion which will bring down the library and seemingly kill Will. This is the end of Act 1.
After Act 1 is done, we move onto the first junction of the game called Junction 1 Hardline/PR. You play as Paul in these sections. This is the first story decision you are faced with and choosing whichever one impacts your games story for good including the live action show. Once you have made your decision the junction ends and the first episode of the show starts. If you have been collecting the quantum ripples in Act 1, you will see the changes you have made to the world in this episode. A little icon in the top right during the show indicates when the quantum ripple is happening. Depending on what junction you chose to go down, this will dictate how the show starts and how the show will progress throughout further episodes. I chose PR, in my episode it started with an interrogation. Martin hatch is talking to one of the witnesses of the university incident and blackmails her into helping him fool the media with a PR campaign designed to paint Jack Joyce as a terrorist. I then got introduced to a few new characters who worked at Monarch and their job was to locate Jack who had escaped from the clutches of Monarch. Loads of action happens in the episode with some character development. Overall a good way to start off, acting was good, CGI was passable, the fight scenes are not film calibre but still can remain believable to the watcher. A good first episode.
The start of Act 2 is more of the same, you learn a lot more about monarch and what Will Joyce was up to. You get introduced to new enemy types, one is a brute that carries a shotgun and is basically a glorified bullet sponge, another is a guard which has a chromosome harness on which allows him to move when a stutter happens and gives him time powers. The more you progress through Act 2 and the rest of the game you are presented with twists and turns in the story, some of which you can steer to with your choices in the junctions. The cinematic feel with strong acting really lifts the story in the later acts, you will find yourself really engrossed with what’s going on and wanting to push on to the end, although the science behind what’s going on can get quite confusing especially with the whole time travel factor but remedy do try their best to explain some of it in simple terms.
Finally at the end of Act 4, the live action show comes to a close. The show for me personally was good as a side handle to the game, it also added storyline depth to those characters that in the game really only show up in the narrative objectives. The show on its own would crumble compared to other similar shows out their which are of the same sci-fi feel. I feel like one more episode of this show would have been beneficial to tie those niggling loose ends that we never got a conclusion to.
To conclude with the games story, in Act 5 you get a massive dose of gameplay as Jack tries to infiltrate the Monarch HQ building, this for me is the best part of the game. Once you’re done there and you come to nearly the end of Act 5, you get a final boss battle to end this experience, this can be a real pain in the ass. To defeat the boss you have to use all your time powers especially if you’re playing on hard. After that the story concludes, the game ends with in my opinion a satisfying ending that ties up the main story line while putting a cliff hanger there to set up Quantum Break 2 plus an after credits scene which kinda explains the whole interview sequence and what happen to Martin Hatch amidst the chaos.
The Time abilities Jack acquires throughout the game help you through gameplay in a lot of ways. Firstly Time Vision is basically eagle vision off assassins creed in were it highlights enemies and points of interest on your HUD. Time Stop allows you to freeze a certain position entirely for a certain amount of time with a bubble that can trap enemies within it. Time Dodge lets you jolt quickly in any direction and if you aim while doing so, it slows time down allowing you to shoot the bad guy in a cool way. Time Shield when deployed puts a bubble around you to essentially soak up bullets while you recover your health. Time Blast is a charged blast of energy that targets a certain blast area. And lastly Time Rush lets you quickly sprint in a direction slowing down time in the process. All of these time powers can be upgraded with chromosome particles which can be found around levels and you can spend these in the upgrade section.
Gameplay is fun in Quantum Break, It breaks from the mould of being a standardize third person shooter with remedy implementing time abilities. Adding that dynamic makes for some interesting and fun gameplay in my opinion. There is a little bit of parkour in the game but nothing too special and is merely there to get you from point A to point B.
Presentation, graphics are good for the Xbox One, no frame rate lag for me and I didn’t encounter any bugs, acting is superb in the game, in the show not so much for some of the minor characters. It felt like they was lacking something. The licensed soundtrack is also pretty good, I enjoyed after the end of every act jamming out to a tune I’d never heard of, it worked.
Achievements wise, the games list is pretty easy, you can gain most of them as you play through the game, there is ones attached to each time power, ones for completing each act, ones for collecting collectibles and ones for completing the game on each difficulty. Pretty self explanatory.
+ Time powers adds a fresh feel to the TPS genre
+Compelling acting lifts the games story
+ Meaningful collectibles
- Live action show felt too shallow
- Science can be quite confusing at times