Jeff Markiewicz On April 25, 2016 at 1:31 pm

Quantum_Break_LogoQuantum Break is a new game from the developers at Remedy Entertainment. If you have been around gaming for a while, chances are you’ll know their work. They created the Max Payne franchise and developed the first two games in the series. After that they made Alan Wake and its downloadable continuation American Nightmare. Each title this team outputs has been successful. Max Payne was so good that it has spawned multiple games and even a movie. Alan Wake had a slow pickup but has grown into a cult classic amongst fans. This studio doesn’t put out games that often but each one has been a quality addition to the industry and if history is any indicator, Quantum Break should be another big hit.

The story of Quantum Break starts off quite innocent. Paul Serine, one of your old friends, has invited you to see his latest research at Riverport University. You play as Jack Joyce and as you make your way through campus to his laboratory, you start to realize that everything is not as simple as you may think. It’s the middle of the night but there are students protesting a local company. Your friend gives claims to have built a time machine. But his invite is not just a show and tell, he needs your help. His investors are threatening to pull funding for his project as the principle researcher has backed out and he needs your help to start it up as a last ditch effort. After getting the machine up and running, it works marvelously. Then in the midst of the second trial, it goes horribly wrong. A fracture in time forms and it threaten to doom everyone. From here, your goal is simple. Figure out what happened and how to fix it. The fate of the world is in your hands.

Perhaps it is an issue with development cycles but one of the first things to be damaged by production difficulties is the execution of the story. It happens way too often. Large pieces of the story will be noticeably absent or just totally not make sense. With Quantum Break it feels like they had a set plan in place and stuck to it. The videogame and the live-action show work perfectly together to tell a great story. The videogame deals with the story of Jack Joyce and his journey to patch everything back together and the live-action show deals with a lot of the side characters and the surrounding events. It works well and I can’t imagine it being as successful if done any other way. The show fleshes out critical characters that come to impact the story in significant ways. Now the story is not completely groundbreaking and won’t blow anyone’s mind with its interpretation of time travel but it executes it to near perfection. In sum, the story is highly entertaining and engaging. It’s well paced and well-acted. This is how stories should be done.

Quantum Break is a third-person action adventure game. The gameplay takes several different forms from story exposition to combat. The story is progressed in gameplay by talking to characters, finding various documents, or reconstructing ripples from other places in time. The game does a good job at giving you a lot of opportunities to explore the largely linear world. In these side passageways and less frequented areas you’ll find clues that will flesh out the story a lot at the cost of a lot of reading. One of the powers you’ll have is a specific vision mode that will help illuminate even more about the world. Some of these come in the form of some minor puzzles. For example, there will be times that an area will be seemingly impassable and only until you use the vision mode will you be able to see the path forward. It works well it could have been a little better implemented because I kept using the ability all the time so that I wouldn’t miss anything. The other issue is that some of these puzzles require a little platforming but the movement of your character is a bit clunky and he can only climb on very specific objects. It can make the game feel a bit dated but that feeling goes away when you enter the combat scenarios.

Combat is approached with traditional firearms, a cover system, and specific time powers. The traditional firearms come in forms that should not be surprising to anyone. The game uses typical military-style armaments like assault rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles, and pistols. The cover system is useful, especially at the beginning, but not a necessity. Whenever you’re around a piece of cover, your character will automatically crouch and start using it. Thus far, the combat appears to be largely standard fare. The ace in the hole is the time powers you acquire throughout the game. These augment combat and make it a blast to play. You can put enemies in a time bubble that slows both them as well as bullets entering their sphere. This means you can not only hit them a lot easier but when the bubble collapses, they are going to be hit with a ton of bullets simultaneously. You can also dodge and run within slowed time. This means you can quickly get away or if you want, to run up and just knock out the enemy with one punch. There are a variety of other powers as well like a shield and a damaging time burst ability. The game offers a variety of ways to play and it is up to you how to use them. My approach was very offensive and only used the defensive shield ability rarely. And as time progresses, you’ll have the option to upgrade your favorite powers. These time powers paired with the good enemy design makes combat a blast to play.

One of the more interesting aspects of the gameplay is the ability to make story-impacting choices. These choices typically come at the end of an act and even more interesting, are from the antagonist’s viewpoint. Before you commit to a particular path, you’ll peer into the future and see some of the potential impacts of both available choices. This is nice from the standpoint that sometimes games have a different interpretation from what you perceived in your mind so this should clear up any confusion but it doesn’t feel like these choices have much impact at all though. There is a set path that this story is to take and you might get some glimpses at some minor differences but any change will get quickly course corrected. Then there is the weird angle of making a choice as the antagonist. For example, there are times that you have information that he does not or have an opportunity to pick something that will clearly, unintentionally, go in the protagonists favor. It’s weird to have to separate yourself as the main character and try to unbiasedly choose for who you’re against. The one positive is that after each choice, you’ll get to see how your friends and the community as a whole stack up against you. Giving the player some choice is always nice but here the ripples in the game are minute and almost imperceptible.

When all is done and told, the gameplay is at the service of the story. The slower parts that have a stronger story focus are very adequate but just not that impressive. The character movement is a bit clunky and none of the puzzles or platforming sections are that special. The small amount of exploration and the large amount of literature are a nice touch though. If you want to rush through the game, they are definitely not necessary but the exploration will reward you with additional points to put into your powers and the literature will expand greatly on some characters and the technical details what is happening. The combat on the other hand is a pure joy. Once again, it’s at the service of the story but it’s well-constructed and not overused. The gameplay is your vessel to experience the story and while some aspects may not be as great as the combat, it is never detrimental.

The graphics is a tale of two stories. On one hand, the graphics are gorgeous and packed to the hilt with various fantastic effects. On the other hand, there is a major clarity issue that make the game look very muddy and suffer from ghosting effects. The large details are great. Fantastic level design that only gets crazier and more spectacular as time goes on. When in combat there is so much is going on with the various graphical and physics effects that it is both chaotic and gorgeous. When the game slows down and you look at the finer details, the issues crop up. The game is very muddy and it’s hard to pick out the small nuanced details. The small details like textures and models suffer from this muddiness. The weirder part is that there is some ghosting with the characters and because of the muddiness, I can’t really tell if it’s due to the time travel plot or an unintentional aspect of the graphical design.
The other large aspect of the game is the television show in between the acts of the game. It is a high quality, well executed production. Initially it does suffer from a minor problem though. It’s completely opposite from the issue affecting the videogame and it’s not isolated to just this show but a lot of other content on television and even movies. The issue is that all the cars in the show are perfectly spot clean with well-placed camera shots highlighting the cars manufacturer. Luckily as time goes on, this feeling that you’re watching a commercial is much less apparent and the show transitions to something much more immersive. You just have to slog through the first episode to get to there.
Overall, there are simply too many moments when playing this game that look like a really good last generation game. Sometimes the lighting will hit your character just the right way that’ll look quite dull. The muddiness of either the lower resolution or filter. Then you’ll hit combat or a new location and all of that will be masked because everything else is kicked into high gear and looks really good. The locations are highly detailed. The models are well animated. There are tons of visual effects in combat. The level design and television show are great, especially as the story moves along. But the game’s successes only serve to mask the problems. They never really go away. The game is capable of such tremendous beauty but it’s simply makeup covering a below average foundation. Luckily, the game doesn’t reveal what’s underneath very often.

The sound design on the other hand needs no masking. It is quite well done. It helps to create a very immersive and engaging world. The voice actors do a fantastic job at carrying the story. The soundtrack oozes style. It gets your heart beating during the high action pieces and swells at the right emotional moments but it also lacks a strong theme that makes it not particularly memorable. Similarly to Alan Wake, they have thrown in a couple cool songs at the end of each act. Unfortunately it doesn’t work as well as that game but the addition is still nice. As for the television show, I feel as if they did a really good job. The sound effects and music accompanying them were great. Overall, the sound design is an asset to the story that just makes it that much better.

Quantum Break is a fantastic single-player experience. The story is executed to near perfection. Whereas a lot of games drop the ball in this area, Quantum Break excels. The addition of the television show is great and makes the story a lot better. The game does attempt to add replayability with the ability to make choices but they never feel to make much of a difference. Chances are that this game will be a one play through experience for most but that experience is fantastic and worthwhile. The graphics are capable of tremendous beauty. Especially when time starts to get fractured and your powers start to get unleashed, the amount of various graphical effects is simply amazing. The downside is that when these effects are not in full effect, the game can look quite muddy and dull at times. Fantastic voice acting helps to drive the story and the sound design creates an engaging and immersive world. To conclude, Quantum Break marries videogame and live-action storytelling to great success. Each side caters to its strengths and culminates in a great, well-rounded package.


Remedy delivers a highly entertaining and engaging story that perfectly marries videogame content with a live-action show. Great combat.


The game is capable of tremendous beauty but it’s simply makeup covering a below average foundation.


Fantastic voice acting helps drive the story. Fantastic sound design created an engaging and immersive world. The soundtrack is good that oozes style but not that memorable.


Quantum Break marries videogame and live-action storytelling to great success. Each side caters to its strengths and culminates in a great, well-rounded package.

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