Remedy Entertainment continues their streak of great gameplay mixed together with a unique and interesting narrative structure in Quantum Break. This sci/fi adventure is both a game and a TV show and these play off each other in fun and novel ways. Where the gun control lacks, the fast movement and time manipulation easily make up for it. This game is stylish through and through and will impress the player from start to finish.
As Jack Joyce (played by actor Shawn Ashmore), you have come to meet your old friend Paul Serene (played by Aiden Gillen) and watch him break time. During this rupture, you are given time altering powers that you use for light puzzle solving and fighting off enemies. The time stream is literally falling on top of itself which leads to some very cool visual tricks throughout the game. Not only do you push the story forward yourself but live action episodes will break up the game’s chapters to flesh the plot out further. With diverging choices, you can choose how the story is molded and watch in real time as it unfolds. There is so much going on with Quantum Break and it’s all real exciting.
You will spend the majority of the gameplay in large shoot outs. The handling of the guns is the weakest point to this game. Your targeting feels loose and your aim is often squirrly. This doesn’t limit your destructive power since the majority of your arsenal involves manipulating time. You can send out a sphere of frozen time, shoot multiple bullets into it, and cause the sphere to explode in gunfire. Along with slowing the enemy down, you have both a time dodge and fast run that speed Jack up (great for flanking enemies). For example: using the time dodge to get beside someone and then holding down the aim button will freeze time (bullet time for the Max Payne fans) while you take the enemy out before they even notice you move. Your run move will allow you to quickly get next to an enemy and perform a melee takedown which is quite useful. Explosions, shields, etc. are just some of the abilities you have at your disposal and they are all quite fun to level up and use.
The time manipulation doesn’t stop with the combat. Much of the world is jumping in and out of a frozen state. This allows you to walk through many areas and see everything and everyone standing still. It leads to some great visuals of explosions being stopped, bullets halted in mid air, buildings already collapsing, etc. If time has frozen and a firefight takes place then enemies will freeze once killed which leads to a lot of bodies floating in the air. Often, time will begin to jump around during a scene and this leads to seeing flashes of things to come/that have happened already. Days will move by and you will watch things being constructed at break neck speed. These sections really show off some cool visual effects as everything is being overlaid with a shattered-like or phase shifting-like filter. The game has several set pieces where you are moving through an area that is literally falling apart and rebuilding itself at the same time. Running through a shipping yard while everything is exploding and unexploding is a total blast. This game’s visual trickery is definitely worth seeing.
What makes Quantum Break so unique is the television aspect of the game. After every chapter you will watch a twenty-plus minute long episode of the Quantum Break show. This is a live action series that the studio filmed that features a different set of characters - with a different story - that connect more and more as you progress. Before each episode, you play a section of the game as the antagonist and are asked to make a narrative decision. It’s nice that you are able to watch how each choice will work out before deciding how the story will unfold. The following episode will convey either option since the studio filmed multiple versions. The episodes will even seamlessly reflect upon some of the collectables you’ve found in game in funny and strange ways (helping give purpose to all the hunting you will do). Unfortunately, these episodes have a low budget look to them and can come across as a bit cheesy. They do try to replicate the time manipulation special effects that the game showcases but they don’t quite hit home. Even with that, the dedication to this storytelling is interesting and they help continue the plot forward by breaking up the action.
Quantum Break is visually striking from both aesthetic and gameplay standpoints that easily held my interest the whole way through. Seeing how time would shatter further, and how your characters would evolve to combat this, kept me intrigued. The narrative is nicely paced with the full length TV episodes and seeing my choices impacting these made them that much more impressive. Remedy Entertainment continues their strong storytelling in a unique and striking way.