We have recently seen the release of Xbox’s first big exclusive of 2016 and Microsoft should be pleased with the results. Take the mechanics of a third person shooter, accompanied by an excellent story and cast of characters and on top of all episodes of a real (thought extremely low budget) T.V show after every completed act inside the game. All of these parts come together to give us the five acts and 4 T.V episodes of Quantum Break by Remedy Entertainment in all of its glory.
The story opens up with Jack Joyce arriving at Riverport University early one morning to meet an old friend, Paul Serene, and help him with a top secret project he has been working on with some mysterious corporation named Monarch. Turns out this secret project is a time machine, and Paul wants your help to (illegally) activate it and prove to investors it is worth what they are spending. Things go south quick leading to a huge event that causes a Fracture in time and gives the ability to manipulate time to Jack and Paul. Stuck in the machine after said accident Paul is forced to go to an undetermined point in the future where he faces the end of time caused by the fracture you both created. The story starts slow but picks up quick near the climax of the game and rides that wave to the very end. My one gripe with the story of the game however is how it ends, leaving the player feeling like everything they just did for the past 10 hours basically meant nothing. It's an odd ending that piles up more questions than it answers, but it leaves me excited to see where (hopefully) the sequel will take us. The story does a good job of staying interesting while showing the world how to put together an excellent, non-generic story about time travel.
Visually, Quantum Break challenges Ryse: Son of Rome for the title of best looking game on the Xbox One, but unlike Ryse, Quantum Break has solid gameplay to support it. Every set or area that Jack found himself in was beautifully crafted, be it a junked out train yard or a millionaire's mansion, QB does each justice using what they know to harness the power of the Xbox One. The combat, though fairly easy, can be extremely fun with the range of powers you have within your arsenal. On top of the usual guns you find in a third person shooter, Jack also has the ability to freeze time around enemies, run while slowing time around him, and deploy a time shield on top of other time related abilities. The combination of gunplay with the time powers creates exciting fighting scenarios that can change depending on personal play style. I ran my first playthrough of the game on hard and still thought the challenge was not too high, with AI barely putting up a fight when I really entered my flow. The ease of combat does pose a chance for the game to become stale, but I felt that Quantum Break was a good length and never found myself questioning if it would ever end.
One of the best ideas of this game is the live action T.V show that occurs at the end of every act within the game. Before each episode you are met with a short 'Junction' point. At these 'Junction' points you are put into the shoes of Paul Serene and must make a decision that will affect the course of not only the episode that follows it, but the entire game thereafter. While these moments are interesting, and the effects that each decision have on the episode are fun to see, they are little moments that are overshadowed by the fact that they all lead to the same, unsatisfying ending. Once the episode starts to run you will notice quickly that while each performance given by each main character are extremely good, they can just be undermined by the cheap special effects and the bad performances by the supporting cast. The reason why I find this to be the best idea even with all the negatives is because it is something different and new, so I appreciate what Remedy has done and hope that when we do see this style of game; be it from Remedy again or a different studio.
In the end, Quantum Break come together to create a must play experience for any Xbox One (or PC) owner. Combine an excellent original story of time travel with the controls of a solid third person shooter, mix that with some fun time powers, and you get a fun 10-12 hour experience that i recommend to anyone with an Xbox one.