REVIEW: Quantum Break
What is Quantum Break?
Quantum Break is the latest third-person action adventure from Remedy Games, and it is, without question, a testament to Remedy’s talent and expertise.
Remedy once again shows us that a good story and thoughtful world building will leave any player wanting more when the final credits roll. This ten hour brain bending time travel action game delivers an amazing story and develops fantastic characters, despite a few narrative and technical issues.
Time is Ending
A secret experiment gone wrong leaves time itself fractured and on the road to ultimate doom. At the center of it all sits Jack Joyce, the brother to renowned, yet eccentric, scientific genius, William Joyce. In what is one of my favorite time travel sequences in gaming history, Jack accidentally breaks time. He is blasted with Chronon particles and discovers that he can now manipulate time in pockets as well as move freely through frozen time segments known as Stutters.
This incident propels the player into ten action packed hours of time bending gameplay and a great story with fantastic characters. Once the game takes off, Quantum Break doesn't slow down. It is quite refreshing to see a game take the time it needs to tell a story without dragging out the experience.
Trying something new
The story is broken into five acts, and each act is padded with a 22 minute television episode that follows the happenings at the villainous corporation know as Monarch Solutions. Remedy will insist that this was part of Quantum Break's plan all along, but I can't shake the feeling that this is a bit of fallout from Microsoft's canned television studio. The episodes themselves are interesting to watch, and they really help sell the non-primary villains as real people trapped in a bad situation. A good villain thinks that what they are doing is right, and these episodes help frame that reality.
The game's narrative flows smoothly in and out of cutscenes, live action episodes, and gameplay segments. Each act is neatly structured, and the story takes some crazy turns as characters travel through different timelines. The final hours of the game build up quite nicely, but I couldn't help but feel underwhelmed after completing the final encounter. It was a moment where I didn't realize the game was over until I saw the achievement pop up on the screen, and that left me feeling a bit strange.
A class act
The performances from each of the main characters are top notch, both in the television episodes and the game's cutscenes. Each of the actors are seasoned veterans of the industry, so I didn't expect anything less than the fantastic performances delivered on screen.
One of the most enjoyable parts of Quantum Break was discovering collectibles around the world that both added significant details to the story or provided some delightful flair to the world. My favorite moments in particular include uncovering of a lost audition tape for the fictional show, Night Springs, featured in Remedy's previous game, Alan Wake and the slow discovery of one character's screenplay, Time Knife. These collectibles do a fantastic job building a real world around the events taking place, and they shouldn't be missed if possible.
The flow of time
Quantum Break is yet another stunning example of Remedy's master craft game design. Quantum Break uses subtle visual cues and light direction (a favorite of mine from Alan Wake) to guide players through each area. The environmental design shows a level of craftsmanship and thoughtfulness that many games strive for, yet never achieve.
Despite the amazing attention to detail and overall superior design of each area, Quantum Break falls short when the bullets start flying. Players have a multitude of time bending powers at their disposal. Jack can slow down time in pockets to stack bullets for extra damage, create devastating pockets of unstable time to crush opponents, or he can zip around the battlefield by slowing down time itself. However, I quickly realized that there are about one or two powers that work best on each type of enemy. Over half the enemies in the game can be easily defeated with the very first power you gain, and fighting them feels like more of a chore towards the end of the campaign. The most challenging enemies in the game are easily toppled by a simple rinse and repeat method that took me all of five seconds to decipher and master.
These gameplay issues are further compounded by the extremely narrow selection of generic weapons available. It makes sense that the time powers are the highlight of the game, but I would have liked something more than SMG or Assault Rifle as firearm options. Beyond these issues, I noticed several instance of severe texture pop-in that really drew me out of the experience. These issues made combat feel a bit lackluster, but the overall quality of the story kept me hooked until the very end.
Time is an egg
Overall, Quantum Break is a game worth playing. Fantastic acting and storytelling make the ten hours I spent with the game feel great. The collectibles felt meaningful and worth my time to discover, and the drab selection of enemies and weapons didn't deter me exploring the fluidly designed areas. I encountered several technical issues, but luckily, these issues were minor and not game breaking. Remedy has done a great job building a new world for fans to explore, and they have at least taken a few liberties in finding new ways to tell a story within their games. Branching paths within the story offer excellent replay value, and the gameplay feels smooth, despite some narrow design choices. Quantum Break is a great addition to the Xbox One and Windows 10 lineup, and owners of these platforms shouldn't miss out.
- Slim gun variety
- Noticeable texture pop-in
- Sudden and anti-climatic ending
- Repetitive gameplay becomes noticeable in later hours
- Fantastic story
- Great performances
- Meaningful collectibles
- Replay value through alternate choices
- Fluid level design
For the purposes of this review, Quantum Break was primarily played on the Xbox One.