Thursday 31 March 2016

Quantum Break

Out on Xbox One on April 5th, Quantum Break by Remedy is a game that is so good at each individual aspect that when it changes it, it leaves you wanting more of the same. Imagine you’re sitting there playing the hottest new release and the gameplay has reached its climax. They’ve found your location and have swarmed on you. You’re surrounded. Utilising your unique abilities, you slow time around them, create ripples and domes. Shoot a magazine of bullets into that time and when the dome collapses it causes a massive explosion taking out a couple of enemies. But while that’s happening, you’ve already moved on the next enemy whizzing by their bullets to get behind them and switch to your shotgun. With one pull of the trigger the camera focuses on the last enemy falling in slow motion, and then you take a few steps away and a cut-scene plays. Then, a live-action episode plays for the next twenty-five minutes. It’s jarring and really always leaves you wanting more.

This isn’t a bad thing. In fact, the developers do an incredible job at everything. But due to their taking of chances, it can feel like it gets in its own way. If you’ve played a Remedy game before then you know to expect heavy narrative. Don’t expect 12 hours of running from area to area constantly shooting at ever-stronger enemies. This is a game that cares about pace, it cares about making every encounter feel unique and different to every other one you’ll face throughout your 10 or so hours. 

You play a vast majority of the game as Jack Joyce who’s best friend and brother find a way to create a time-travel device. Things go awry though and the explosion gives both you and your friend Paul Serene powers. It’s not that simple though as the fractures in time are not good and as the game progresses they become more frequent and the inevitability of time stopping altogether is fast approaching. Serene though, knowing that this is coming uses his company Monarch to research a way to move through this permanence. Jack Joyce wants to stop him as well as fix time before its too late.

It’s a complicated story that is given its time to be explained by moments of exploration while the story unfolds, introducing cut-scenes as well as live-action episodes at the end of each act. There are four episodes in all that will take just over an hour. While this may feel like it gets in the way, they are incredibly well produced, feeling not out of place in a prime-time slot on American TV. Acting is impressive from an impressive cast and while the plot can feel a bit hokey, it’s all written and delivered will enough to ever air on embarrassing. They can be skipped of course and even though the live-action is centred on secondary characters, it helps reinforce the surrounding subplots and scenarios without forcing them into the game itself.

The game is heavily focused on the story and this means you won’t spend a huge amount of time shooting and utilising your powers. This is the game's biggest downfall due to the simple fact that they don't give you more of it all. I would have loved a wave based system or challenge maps where you could play the game as intended or with mutators. Once the game ends all you can do is replay the game on a different difficulty mode and make different choices.

Nobody does experiments like Remedy and Quantum Break was their biggest risk yet and there just isn't as enough game here to call it a masterpiece and the fact that it is a game is disappointing. Still, every moment is awesome.

Not too much live-action but not enough game 3/5.


Martin Bargo 

Quantum Break at CeX

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