Quantum Break is Remedy Studio’s newest game. Responsible for games such as Alan Wake and Max Payne, Remedy is a developer known for their innovative takes on ways to story tell. Quantum Break is the most glaring example of this innovation, as it is a product of unique and compelling narrative structure never seen in video games before. Although the storytelling is fantastic, the game still has to entertain us; it is a video game after all. Does Quantum Break succeed as more than an experiment in storytelling? For the most part, yes.
I’ll break down this review into several sections (per usual), detailing the presentation, story, and gameplay. First up is the presentation. Quantum Break feels very “next generation”. In almost every facet of the word, Quantum Break seems to feel a step above the average cut for a third person shooter. The menus are tight, minimalist, and pristine. The options push the “next gen” point harder, with toggles for things such as copyrighted music. Settings like this comment on the growth of games themselves, with these niche settings clearly playing towards streamers and content production.
Beyond the menus, Quantum Break looks beautiful. The game is very sleek, and it’s absolutely visually stunning. Due to the time travel aspects of the game’s narrative, you often find yourself in environments that stutter with time. I’ll talk about this more in the gameplay section, but it’s impressive enough visually to bring it up now. Furthermore, the character models are dead-on. While they aren’t photo realistic, the characters look exactly like the popular actors they are based off. This is essential, due to the biggest innovation in the game.
A large chunk of the story is told via full motion video. After each “act” in the game, a twenty to thirty minute television episode will play. These television episodes further the game story, and have plots of their own. Although their inclusion is jarring at first, it’s easy to sit back and watch, mainly because the production quality is so good. Big name actors such as Aiden Gillen, Shawn Ashmore, and Lance Reddick play prominent roles. The narrative is excellent as well, but the reason the television episodes work is due to the obvious time spent making them. None of the content feels awkward of campy, and it honestly rivals some of the more popular television shows on right now. Overall, the presentation is fantastic. Everything looks and sounds great. There was obvious amounts of time and passion put into this game, and it shows through the quality.
Next, we have the story. Quantum Break’s narrative is compelling, albeit a little hazy at times. I won’t spoil much, since the story plays out incredibly well and has tons of twists and turns. Our main protagonist is a man named Jack Joyce. After helping with his friend’s literal time machine, Jack gains some incredible time powers. These time powers are accompanied by something known as “The Fracture”. Time itself ends up getting fractured, and a giant corporation known as Monarch rises up to help with the crisis. Eventually, it ends up being Jack versus Monarch, on a semi-revenge/save the world adventure. Of course it’s much deeper than that, but that’s Quantum Break in a nutshell. The narrative is mainly about time itself, and therefore, things can get a bit convoluted. After a while, I found myself questioning the timeline, and various other things I thought were plot holes. Fortunately, the game wraps up nicely enough that I didn’t care enough to go back and fact check them. So while the specifics can get confusing sometimes, the overall narrative is easy to follow.
Finally, there’s the gameplay. To be honest, there’s nothing too crazy here. Of course, the time powers themselves are crazy fun. Being able to stop time mid-combat and dash at the speed of light was exhilarating. You get almost all of your powers up front, and besides upgrading their power, there isn’t much to be unlocked. Guns are plentiful and varied, but you’ll probably end up finding one or two you like and sticking with those. The game is mostly a third person shooter, but it does have some platforming and puzzle elements. These are super light though, and the obvious star is the combat. Environments are often linear, but pretty to look at. As I stated before, combat during time “stutters” is awesome to look at, and creates a very Matrix-esque experience. That’s about it. The game never tries to evolve past that, but that’s okay. The combat is engaging, and is fun enough to keep you entertained while you experience the narrative.
Overall, the narrative really is the entire point. That could’ve really made for a bad game, but somehow the pieces fell into place just right. The gameplay is solid and fun, and the narrative is engaging and interesting. Combined with the novelty of being told partly through game and live action, Quantum Break’s story is fantastic. The game is pretty lengthy too, clocking in around twelve hours. There is also incentives to replay the game that I won’t spoil here. All in all, Quantum Break is definitely worth playing. Whether or not you should purchase it will be completely up to you, as you will only like the game as much as you like the story. However, I recommend everyone gives Quantum Break a try.