Quantum Break – Review

Quantum Break is Remedy’s latest title and is a game that has been heavily anticipated since the launch of Xbox One. After going through the game I can say that Remedy has done it once again as Quantum Break is a fantastic ride and offers up some really cool concepts that I can see other studios picking up on, similar to when Remedy introduced bullet time with the original Max Payne games. Quantum Break is unique in that it isn’t just a game, there is a live action tv show going on at the same time as well. While you are going through the game you are playing from the perspective of the hero, Jack Joyce. While watching the live action show that is from the perspective of the villain(s), Monarch and Paul Serene. The events of the live action show are dependent on the decisions you make at different junction points throughout the game. The first junction point, for example, will force you to make the decision about whether you want to rule with an iron fist and just kill any and all witnesses from an event that just took place or whether you should take a more strategic approach and use the aforementioned event to help launch a PR campaign so that the city is on your side. The game and the show are interwoven amazingly well and I was just as excited to get to watch another episode of the show as I was to return to the game once that show was over.

Quantum Break begins with you arriving at a university in your home town. It has been many years since you were last there but your friend wants to show you something that will change the world. You meet him there and after certain events transpire a time fracture occurs and now it is a race against the clock before time itself ends. This cataclysmic event that just took place has resulted in you acquiring special powers, essentially you can now manipulate time. You use these newfound powers in the game as you battle Monarch forces as well as solve environmental puzzles. Combat in the game is standard third person fare with you being able to duck in and out of cover as you try to take out Monarch’s forces with a pistol, a SMG, a shotgun or whatever else you managed to find. Where things get changed up is when you use time manipulation to your advantage during these encounters.

One of my favorite things to do early on is using the time stop feature. How this works is that I can shoot a time bubble at my enemy and if they get caught in it they are caught in stasis for a few moments and can’t do anything. Once that happens you can unload some ammo into that time bubble so that it turns red and eventually explodes, taking out that enemy combatant with it. Now if you are dealing with a more powerful enemy it won’t necessarily completely take them out but it will do a good amount of damage. Time Vision was another power I used frequently which allows you to see enemy locations as well as other items that may be of some use to you near your location. There were many times where I would hide behind a pillar or some other form of cover and use this power to see that an enemy was charging right at me so I would pop out of cover and quickly eliminate them. If you happen to be staying in cover though then I highly suggest you don’t use cars as cover, or at the very least you only remain there for a few seconds. Cars can and will explode on you if you stay there too long and allow the enemies to keep firing on it. I learned that the hard way on a number of occasions. There is another power that you don’t unlock until the later stages of the game but I really enjoyed using it and that is Time Rush. What this power allows you to do is essentially run faster than time for a brief period. If you can line up with an enemy while doing this it also comes with a devastating melee attack that can and will instantly take out a lof the opposition. I mainly used this particular power though when fighting heavily armored enemies and I would race around to their back before they knew what happened and shoot the vulnerable part of their suit. There are other powers to use as well obviously but I’ll let you discover those for yourself. I had a good amount of fun manipulating time to my benefit during combat and feel like Remedy really nailed this.

As you are going through Quantum Break you aren’t going to want to just run through it as quick as you can. You’ll want to explore the environment, to see what Remedy has to offer. There are some amazing easter eggs that Remedy has put in Quantum Break but you can really only find these by exploring. I’m not going to spoil what these easter eggs are but I was very excited to see them and can’t wait to discuss them with members of the community. In addition to these easter eggs there is documentation strewn all around the environment which will give you backstory to the events that are unfolding. These come in the form of internal company memos, audio recordings, and much more. Coming across a specific document about halfway through the game and reading it helped sway the decision I had to make at the upcoming junction so I would definitely suggest that you take your time and find all of the collectibles and data you can on what is exactly happening. While exploring the environment you will also come across some Chronon Sources that you want to collect. These essentially function as upgrade points once you have found enough of them. Finding these will allow you to upgrade Jack’s powers such as increasing the functional range of Time Vision or increasing the damage radius when you use the Time Blast power. Along the way you will also come across diaries that you will want to watch. Some of them you find simply by completing levels. Others have different requirements like finding all of the intel in an act, for example. These diaries give you a glimpse into what a character might have been thinking at any one time and gives you some backstory so that you might understand the motivation of the main characters.

Actions have consequences and you need to keep that in mind when making your decisions. Continuing with my example from above, if you have Monarch simply eliminate all of the witnesses then there are certain characters that you might not come across in the game which could result in you not getting some intelligence that you might have otherwise received if they were alive. Your decisions will also determine how the live action show goes. Watching the second episode of the show it might be 25 minutes long for me but for you it might only be 22 minutes long, for example. Certain items you find when going through the game can also cause a quantum ripple which will be played out in the live action show. Remedy did an amazing job putting this all together and they have really raised the bar showing how to properly incorporate two different, yet similar mediums with the game and the live action show. I imagine it had to take an insanely long time to film these episodes as each scene had to be filmed many different times to reflect the choices that were being made in the game. It was hugely ambitious on Remedy’s part and fortunately they seemed to have nailed it. After you go through a junction and make your decision you will begin streaming the live action episode off of Remedy’s servers. If you don’t want to stream it though you can download all of the episodes to watch it that way. The ability to download the episodes is a feature exclusive to the Xbox One version and you need to have a lot of hard drive space to do it as it requires 75gb of space. This includes all of the episodes in one package along with all of the different permutations that exist so that is why it is such a large download.

As you can tell I have really enjoyed my time with Quantum Break but there are a couple of issues I feel I should mention. The platforming aspect of the game could be a bit better. At times it can feel a bit stiff to line up Jack properly to leap across a gap or to really nail a landing. The gunplay works pretty well but for some reason a lot of the time the game would default to me using my pistol, so it would take an extra moment to switch over to my SMG or whatever other gun I had at the time. These are all minor gripes though and didn’t really hamper my gameplay experience.

Quantum Break is a story about time travel and trying to save time itself once it becomes fractured. It is an intriguing idea and the way you can manipulate the environment using your powers is pretty damn cool. If there is an obstacle blocking your path then you might be able to simply rewind time to a point where that obstacle wasn’t there and then quickly get through that section before time reverts back to its original state. The combat in the game is fun with your powers adding something to the mix so that this isn’t just another third person cover shooter. I was interested in the story the whole time and I was always excited to see what would happen in the live action show as a result of decisions I made in the game and vice versa. Also keep in mind that once you beat the game you should also hang around and watch the credits so you don’t miss something. Remedy really has done an amazing job here and I’m hopeful this becomes a new franchise for them instead of just a one off.

Score: 9/10

Originally posted on Gaming Target

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