Quantum Break- the latest action third person shooter developed by Remedy Entertainment. Creators of the max pain and Alan wake series, it’s nice to see a new original IP. A lot of inspiration is evident from their old games with Quantum Break. This, coupled with a couple of nice twists will leave old fans who have liked Remedy’s past games not disappointed with this new game. Available for Xbox One and PC it is not available for Sony related consoles.
The story begins with you Jack Joyce visits your brother – a physicist who specialises in quantum mechanics at the Riverside university. Little do you know that this leads to you and your friend Paul Serene, a man who is an expert at standing and looking at stuff, creating a rip in time and pretty much the start of the end of the world. However, this isn’t the only thing going wrong as it becomes clear that the company Paul Serene has created (monarchy industries) is up to something nefarious. The game does a very good job of not telling you a lot, however, still giving you enough to keep you playing. This is helped as the initial shock of having time bending powers in this world that has become unstable due to the breaking up of time itself leads you to discover things at the same pace as the protagonist you play as – Jack Joyce. Most of this discovering is carried out by finding numerous objects around the map/level, so if you really want to know what is going on but have a real disliking of reading then you may find this game lacking. However, these collectables are great and vary enough to keep you looking for them, which works well and suits the game perfectly. The story is interesting, no doubt about that and especially since there are numerous points where the game can branch. This branching gives the player a real control over the story and the events that will unfold. Also, the game employs a strange story telling technique of adding a ten to twenty minute live action episode after each act, telling the story of all the characters involved in the game. I was kind of surprised with this working in some respects as the transfer of feeling like I was playing a game to watching a TV series was a little jarring at first but by the second act was something I had gotten used to. There were issues, however, the sudden change in focus from the main protagonist, I barely knew anything about early on in the game to one of the men employed by the monarchy corporation seemed really pointless and didn’t serve to really flesh out the character or add anything more to the understanding of the world itself. Also, having the game put me in a scenario where it was more comfortable to put the controller down and then make some tea cannot be said to be massively engaging. In general, it seemed that the game was about Jack Joyce and his fight with the monarchy corporation, whereas the live action TV episodes focused on all the other characters giving an occasional nod to the main characters in the story.
The gameplay is pretty straight forward as through each level of each act you are confronted with either shootey segments in which you fight the monarchy corporation’s soldiers or puzzley bits where you have to maneuver around the time glitchy environment. The gameplay essentially revolves around the central premise of the game with your wide choice of time abilities. These time abilities are Fairley easy to understand and serve as a massive upgrade to just the “bullet time” we are used to. Time vision is a basic power which lets you scan your surroundings for enemies and other environmentally helpful objects like the good old well placed gas canisters to blast these afform mentioned problems. Not only this, but it can be used to identify where a Chrono source is and how close it is which can be used to upgrade all of jacks time abilities. Another handy ability which comes in handy is the ability to stop an area with time using time stop. This is great as it allows you to unload a large amount of lead into a frozen enemy without them moving, which can be upgraded with that Chrono source stuff to take more bullets before it collapses upon the enemy showering them with lots of hole makers. Time dodge is as simple to understand as a time stop as it allows you to quickly move from one area to another using “time” to effectively “dodge” like time stop stops time. However an ability you then gain seems to extend this. This ability, time rush, allows you to slow time when you move and then if you suddenly hold your aim you are then launched into a two to three second bullet time giving you enough time to carefully adjust that aim for a nice headshot. If slowing time down and being able to dart around like some kind of a time gun ninja is not enough to dodge bullets you also get the ability to be able to create a miniature dome to protect you with time shield. In all honesty, it kind of didn’t make any sense initially how you could make a shield with time, but there’s probably a way, best not to argue and be happy it can heal you too. Time blast is the final power that you can use to help you get out of a bind – or the first I guess. It allows you to charge a time stop for a little bit and then release it to truly devastate the poor monarchy agents as it acts as a super accurate grenade. Although these abilities may seem to make the game far too easy, it doesn’t, as with the use of cooldowns and the introduction of some more diverse and powerful enemies that can even negate some of your abilities every now and then you will still need your skills with a gun to be unusually sharp for a civilian.
On the basic shooting aspect of the gameplay, there really cannot be much said other then it keeps to the same basics that most first person shooters are used to but makes it more small scale. By this I mean not that it sucks or is boring, but that the fights you tend to get involved with are rather more of close quarters which is why I guess the game does not let you zoom in with any of the weapons. Also the weapons are fairly different in some respects with varying assault rifles and heavy “light” machine guns, pistols and shotguns. This makes the combat just as dependent on how you use all of your time abilities along with your marksmen skills, especially on harder difficulties to properly dispatch those irritating monarchy agents. You can also further humiliate the poor monarchy agents by pushing their bodies across the map making odd piles of floaty agents and objects. You know. When you get bored.
With the time puzzley areas of the game these abilities are used more as a way to interact with the environment that’s deadly glitches can cause a car to pile drive you. You can use a wide variety of abilities to stop this from happening like the time shield which freezes that area of space for a while or the time rush to slow time long enough to cross that death trap. You could also use both which is fairley effective by making sure you don’t get crushed by probably the hardest enemy in the game – the time glitched doors of damnation which snap you up the minute you get close to them. But, I feel that with all these cool time powers and an environment that is so unstable its disappointing that you cannot interact with it more. I mean the numerous fuel cans scattered around I guess counts as an interactive environment but only in the way that your house cat is technically related to a lion. Not allot. Not enough for the house cat not to get eaten. Also, the general progression just makes the fights harder towards the end by chucking more of what you are used to rather than using say a more interesting environment with enemies having to be as cautious as you.
Speaking graphically on Quantum break on the Xbox one it looks great. At first it kind of gave that uncanny valley feeling, especially since the facial animations looked surprisingly realistic. This soon went away as I got used to the look that blended well with the live action show that it constantly transitioned between. All the actors/ voice actors were brilliant for giving great performances both in the game and the episodes at the end of each act. Also the songs played at the end of every act were great and served as a brilliant end note for each act. These songs consisted of very punkish indie rock tracks which I guess is not everyone’s cup of tea. I have to admit I am really not quite sure why they were there or if they had any special meaning, but they sounded great. With the story being told by a narration through jack and some unknown agent there were fairly little sound with really unnoticeable tension tracks kicking up every now and then for a fight.
Overall the game was a fairly original experience, more than I was expecting. With its interesting, but a fairly complicated story that can change surprisingly, according to the player’s actions and combat that feels comfortable but still innovative it was fun to play. But, I feel the biggest issue with the game is it is far too short. There were a lot of promising elements that could have been developed further like being able to use the environment in a more interesting way during combat or fleshed out some of the boss battles a little more. Also, although the integration of the live action episodes were great and did add something towards the game I am not sure if I would personally prefer more of the actual game and a separate TV show or web series than them both being sandwiched together. But, hey, a game that has something that I can only describe as a time terminator is pretty bad-ass.