Quantum Break is an Xbox One exclusive that has been hyped for quite some time now. It’s from Remedy Entertainment who you may know from their popular and successful Alan Wake series. It stars Iceman, Little Finger, one of the Hobbits and Broyles from Fringe who not only lend their voices but also act in various live action episodes. Before I butcher this any more, here’s the better PR description:
“Quantum Break” is part hard-hitting video game, part thrilling live action show featuring a stellar cast, including Shawn Ashmore as the hero Jack Joyce, Aidan Gillen as his nemesis Paul Serene, Dominic Monaghan as Jack’s genius brother William and Lance Reddick as Martin Hatch, Paul Serene’s second in command. “Quantum Break” is full of the vivid storytelling, rich characters and dramatic twists Remedy Entertainment are renowned for. Choices in-game will affect the outcome of the fast-paced fusion between game and show, illustrating one story perceived in many ways for a completely unique entertainment experience; play the game to understand the heroes, watch the show to discern the villains.
To be honest, Quantum Break was a game only on my distant radar and not something I was looking to buy on day one, or day two or day 30. There was something about the game play and episodic live action integration that didn’t interest me that much from previews that I’ve seen at various Xbox events. Thankfully we got the opportunity to try out early review copies and I can safely say I was wrong about my initial impressions after playing.
I’ll keep this short and simple. It’s all about a time travel experiment gone wrong with the whole fabric of time collapsing. As the hero, due to the experiment gone wrong that you happen to be present for, you attain various time based powers. Not to be outdone, your old friend and main antagonist also gains these similar time based abilities. It’s a war between you and him as well as as large supporting cast that do play key parts and roles in the game. It really does feel like you are in a movie. I don’t want to give too much information as the story unfolds at a good pace and is entertaining enough where you care about what happens.
The Junction Point aka In game Choices
The game is broken up into 5 Acts with a number of parts within those acts. One cool aspect of the game is that after each Act, there’s what’s called a Junction Point. This is where you take control of the main antagonist Paul Serene to make a key decision in the plot. This decision determines how events play out in later acts as well as which live action episode you get to view. It’s a unique presentation that gives you a way to somewhat control the story based on what you want to see. You also have the ability to go back and change your decisions which adds some replayability factor to the game.
The Live Action Episodes
What’s new and ambitious is the use of live action episodes in between acts. These aren’t 5 minute cut scenes either. These are full, 25 minute long episodes with various actors, action scenes and locations. I expected a lot of cheese but they are surprisingly well done with fairly high production values. The main focus of these episodes is actually to provide you with a completely different perspective of the story as it unfolds. Remember that large supporting cast I mentioned before? Well this is their story and perspective.You actually begin to care about them rather than consider them as just an afterthought. One thing is that there seems like there should have been one last episode. Without spoiling the ending, you obviously find out exactly what happens to the main character at the end, however, the supporting case don’t get that kind of luxury as there’s a few stories that are just left hanging.
The big problem I found with these episodes is that while in a gaming session, it’s just too jarring to suddenly have to take a 25 minute break to sit still and watch an episode. Personally, I just skipped them knowing that I could go back and watch them later. Remedy was smart in providing a “Timeline” feature that allows you to go back and replay any act, change your decisions and watch past episodes. It is definetly worth going back and watching them though.
You play the game in 3rd person mode and it instantly has that Infamous meets Max Payne feel to it. Typically, it also has the usual 3rd person janky controls. The big difference here is that there is no cover button. The cover mechanic is automatic based on where you position your character behind objects. This took me a while to get used to as I would instinctively hit a button that I would think is for cover but then would end up trying to climb over object. The awkwardness becomes even more evident when when mixing and matching with various power buttons. Each button is in use and some buttons provide dual purpose depending on if you just press or long press it. However, once you get used to it, the fun really begins to take off. It’s incredibly satisfying chaining together your various powers and shooting your weapon to take down enemies.
Speaking of enemies, it does get a bit repetitive as you basically go up against the same wave of enemy types. Would have to see more variety of enemies and perhaps different boss type battles. There are a couple of “high level” type enemies that require more work and tactics to defeat them. Unfortunately all that’s really required is to continually run wide circles around them to charge up your powers then quickly time dash in and shoot, then back away and repeat.
- Acting and story is pretty good and the 25 minute episodes are surprising well done and engaging to watch.
- The “Junction Point” provides a unique gaming experience.
- It’s very cool to combine the various powers and string together combos to take down enemies
- The game just looks great
- Typical janky third person controls that can be awkward at times
- Not a fan of all the collectibles
- Relatively short play time
- Didn’t like the auto cover mechanic
- Not much replay value after completing game
Overall, Quantum Break surprised me. At the start, I wasn’t “feeling it” and not that compelled to keep playing it after Act 1 other than to complete this review. I’m glad I did because the story and game play becomes a lot more engaging and more enjoyable. I’m hesitant to say that it’s worth the full price of admission though. Here in Canada it’s $74.99! It is safe to say that the game is definitely worth getting and playing as it’s an enjoyable ride. Just wait a bit to pick it up when it goes on sale.