Quantum Break is an action game and web series created by Remedy Entertainment and published by Microsoft Studios. When an experiment in time travel endangers the very fabric of time itself, Jack Joyce must fight against the Monarch Corporation to save everyone. It is the only one of two videogames that I distinctly remember in my head as a movie instead of a game (the other being Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots: Tactical Espionage Action). I don’t know if studio Remedy wants to be making movies or not, but this ground breaking-game feels like a hybrid of a Netflix Series and a great video game.
This game is as “cinematic” as cinematic games are going to get. A lot of work was put into trying to make this a film experience. The graphics were technically remarkable in some almost true-to-life technical design. The show itself was filmed in glorious HD and has a lot of footage since the show’s own outcome is affected by choices in the game. The game actually streams these episodes so an internet connection is required but if you’re worried about being connected you could always download the whole series to your Xbox One. It’s only 75 gigabytes to download. Plus the installation of the disc brings that to 120GB on your hard drive.
Real motion-captured and fully voiced digital renditions of Shawn Ashmore, Dominic Monahgan, Aiden Gillen, and Lanze Reddick really brought the game to life. As these actors appear in the TV Series and the game, you’ll finish the game forgetting which parts you remember as the show and what you remember as a gameplay section. The performances weren’t a big stretch for the characters as most of the actors were playing to their type for the most part. There are also actors that are just in the show that which, while one-dimensional, really hold their own it what is essentially a 4-episode miniseries. The story itself goes balls deep into some great time traveling story that feels at some times lifted right out of the film “Primer”.
While the game’s OST itself isn’t particularly special, the game makes up for it by having the music react to you when you use abilities. This really brings your powers to life when the music starts jumping around in tune with your warp-dashing and time-freezing antics. The mastery of space in the sound is great too. Sound effects like screams that get frozen into time when you take down an enemy is something that really enhances your gaming experience. This really sets it apart from other third person shooter games by giving your attacks a lot of visceral impact.
There’s a lot of story to be had in the game, and structurally the game’s combat sections almost seem like intermissions between plot developments. But in a game like this, it manages to keep you interested. All of the fights and locations are fairly unique and the sheer level of awesome you can pull off during a section are a sight to behold. Each encounter feels like a new set piece as you battle your way through unique locations. Between these set pieces, you have almost the exact same plot delivery method used as Alan Wake, wherein NPCs will walk around and talk to you or you are alone navigating a location where time has frozen for a moment. This does break up the action, but serves up as a well-paced interlude between fights.
The biggest problem with the game is that after I finished it, I didn’t have any desire to play the game again, despite knowing that you can change your choices to change the series. It was a thrill ride but I was sufficiently satisfied by the end. Also, the final boss was maddeningly hard compared to the content of the rest of the game, and some of that frustration led me to leaving the game after I was done. I enjoyed my experience, but that one playthrough felt sufficient. I might revisit it again sometime. Maybe force someone else to play it since the game is so damn c i n e m a t i c.
Quantum Break was a fun ride and a good foray into changing up the formula for game making in a way that has never been tested before. It’s a great experience to check out, but if you crave gameplay over plot, this game is not for you. That said, if Remedy wants to make a TV show so bad, they should just go ahead and do it.