Quantum Break is Remedy Entertainment’s latest game. From the company who brought us the amazing Alan Wake comes another experiment in storytelling. This time perhaps it’s a bit too experimental, yet it’s unique and interesting, and that catches my attention a lot more than the typical game.
The big gimmick of Quantum Break’s gameplay is the time power that allows people to manipulate time. You are Jack Joyce ( Shawn Ashmore (Iceman from X-men)) who comes in with very little backstory to check out Paul Serene’s(Aiden Gillen (Littlefinger from Game of Thrones)) new experiment. It goes horribly wrong (what a surprise) and you gain time powers. From there you use your time powers and gunplay to kill guard of a mythical Monolith corp
The other gimmick of Quantum Break is it’s a television show and a game in one. You play the game, you make choices and then you watch television programs about this. That’s not just a boast by the company. After a couple hours of gameplay, the game stops and you watch full 22 minutes of television grade tv episode with the characters in the game and more. In fact, everyone in this game is represented by an actor, and the game’s graphics try to live up to the bar.
Yet I think they fall short, and it’s mostly because they stride confidently into the uncanny valley. If you look at any character, and you do quite a bit early on in the game, they’re 99 percent there. There’s just something ethereal off about them. I think it’s something is wrong with the eyes or maybe the face doesn’t animate enough, but the character in the episodes are real, the characters in the game are not and while some are really good (Lance Reddick and Courtney Hope stand out) the rest just have something just not right with them. None actually rival reality though so it’s clear when you’re playing a game and not.
On the other side, 22 minutes is a VERY long time to watch a movie during a game. There’s, of course, a pause button, but the thing is after a while I saw some action and said. “Wow, I’d love to have played that.” Granted the scene didn’t involve the main character of Jack Joyce, but sitting passively for 22 minutes is a LONG time to watch one let alone four episodes.
It might be better if this was mega ultra important scenes. But I’m watching an IT guy and a girl flirt. Did you know he has a thing about coasters? There’s literally a whole moment about it and it is about there you ask yourself. “What’s the point to this?” Why do I care he has a coaster fetish, why is this guy important? Why couldn’t this be done through in-game videos through security if it’s important, or emails (Which you start finding from the character later)? Another character goes home and starts to kiss his wife’s belly because they’re having a baby. IT just doesn’t work as well as it wants to.
It’s not that the tv show is bad. It’s not, it’s very high production values, it’s interesting writing and while it’s lacking a real purpose to watch it, it’s not bad. It’s just feeling like wasted time, whereas if they cut these to 10 minutes, and focused on important character (Jack, Paul, Will) characters we actually see in the real game
The blending of the two formats just doesn’t work like it wants to, and man it really wants to. It’d be easy to dismiss the story, but actually, the story in-game is good. It’s all about time travel, and while it does a few annoying things (not telling backstories up front but then keeps hinting at long connections between people, using vague or specific terms that the character knows but the player has to figure out, using keywords (Ground Zero) to mean something else and again the characters already know them). I did care what was going on. Jack Joyce and Paul Serene are two incredibly interesting characters. When the story is about them, this game works, I just didn’t need 10 other characters that have minimal interaction.
So we come to why there’s a tv program (other than a selling point). The big thing in this game is there are choices that should matter, and they change the tv program, and if you know anything about me yet, I am not a fan of this promise when is made because it’s always broken.
But consider this game has four FULL episodes of television. These aren’t cheap either, I don’t know the pricing of television shows, and I don’t think these are game of throne costs, but they aren’t handheld camera cost either. Decent money went into them.
So would the choices be possible to be so big, the player only sees a percentage of the footage and the developer's hard work goes into unused assets? Of course not! That’s wouldn’t make much sense. Problem is, the choices in the game become irrelevant. The story is going to go the same way, maybe less than 5 minutes of an episode is different because of the choices made in-game.
In fact, it’s a bit insulting. The first episode has 3 “triggers”. There’s a major decision that shows a different three or four minute opening. Then there’s a collectible that “changes the episode” When one of my characters wrote something on the board. In the episode someone is sitting down at the table and says “They corrected the formula at the ….” and that’s the ENTIRE change? What’s really sad is that’s the only good ripple, the rest is you see an object somewhere (just notice it) and you then can notice it in the episode. These ripples should be easter eggs but they are presented as far more, the game calls your attention to them.
It’s odd I spent so much of this review talking about the television show but that’s the big push of the game, what’s crazy is this is still a pretty good game. When you’re in-game, you get a story almost as good as Alan Wake (also by Remedy). There are better gunplay, fun powers, and the graphics are a little awkward but good. In fact, I really enjoy myself between episodes.
The time powers work well and they recharge fast enough that I feel like I have superpowers. The in-game characters do have some minor story irritations but they are fleshed out interesting, and the story is unique. The ability to stop time and dash around is fun the guns are a little weak but still feel good, I love throwing powers around.
Even the cutscenes in games are great, and a few made me think “This is the tv episodes” before I realized it wasn’t. It begs the question why waste resources on television when the cutscenes are more compelling and focused on the interesting characters?
And finally, there are tons of collectibles in the game, a total of 206. Honestly, there’s so many in a shortish game that you just stumble over almost all of them and they’re mostly meaningless, this was similar to alan wake’s overabundance, and I feel they erred heavily on the side of too many. While they’re interesting at the beginning, the number makes them all run together. The good news, they don’t matter too much, the bad news is they’re spoilerific at times and interfere with some gameplay because of appearing on the “Time vision” ability.
What the game ends up with is it’s a game with a great story, that also shows an almost unrelated tv show at the same time. The Tv show has importance, but also a lot of filler. The gameplay is tight and fun, the characters are interesting, and everyone is well acted. It just tries to hard to be something it’s not. It’s a game, not a tv show, and the hybrid they tried to produce doesn’t work, but if you buy this for the game, gameplay, and even the story in-game, you’ll be more than happy.
If you enjoyed this review or want to see what other games I recommend you can find my curator page at this link. http://store.steampowered.com/curator/31803828-Kinglink-Revi...