Quantum Break Review – Great Scott!

Imagine you have suddenly gained the ability to control aspects of time and space – would you use it for good or bad? Quantum Break, from the developers behind the story-driven Alan Wake, thrusts you into the world of time warping, time fractures, and gunplay antics. The game blends an episodic TV-style show with a video game.

The Plot and Storyline

As Jack Joyce, you are thrown into a world of chaos and time manipulation after visiting an old friend named Paul Serene aka ‘Moneybags’. Before the world dramatically changes, Jack’s brother William enters the story and the journey through time to save the world begins. The episodic television show which runs alongside the game is interesting to the say the least – think Alan Wake but extra doses of ‘shooty-bang-bang’ thrown in.

Live-Action in a Game?

Generally speaking, the live-action episodes can be hit and miss but the acting is of good quality and does tend to make up for each episodes shortfalls. The cast includes the better known Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones) Shawn Ashmore (Fringe) and Lance Reddick (The Wire). For those who do sink their teeth into the episodes, extra scenes are available to download alongside those already included in the game.

Jack who is portrayed by Shawn Ashmore

Jack is portrayed by Shawn Ashmore in the live-action scenes.

The point of the live-action episodes? To bring a greater meaning to the choices you make throughout. Between your bouts of playing as Jack, you will also gain control of Paul Serene, the very man that is experimenting with time travel. Towards the end of each episode, you must make a decision which will tweak the course of the game. Aside from small tweaks in gameplay, there isn’t much difference – unless you want to count your guilty conscience?

Gameplay and Game Mechanics

The gameplay switches between being action heavy and mundane. The game is heavily story-driven and the environment is littered with extra content such as emails, videos, etc, which gives the story and characters backgrounds. If you’re not interested in any of these extras you may find yourself walking from A to B with nothing more than Joyce’s commentary to keep you company.

Screenshot showing hand-to-hand combat

You can utilise your fists as well as guns.

Combat and Gunplay

The combat system, which includes shooting and time abilities, is one of the greatest aspects of the game. As you progress through the story you will gain new powers which when strung together can create some great slow-motion death scenes. From Time Blast to Time Dodge, there are a variety of moves which help keep combat fun and all of these abilities can be upgraded by collecting upgrade orbs known as Chronon.

However, the positivity doesn’t boil over into the “dynamic cover system”. During combat scenes, you need to press yourself up against objects to take cover and Jack will crouch. The disappointing part of this cover system is the lack of freedom it gives you, despite being able to freely move around you are constantly exposed in some form or another to gunfire. Whilst you can fire your time abilities willy-nilly you are not able to hip fire your weapons and instead you must pop out of cover. Needless to say, this is an issue on higher difficulties when faces with powerful enemy types.

The game does involve some elements of platforming and a handful of the later episodes will utilise your time powers to destroy and move objects. The only issue here is that they will always return back to their original state after a set amount of time – good things don’t last forever. The platforming is lackluster due to Jack’s awful movement and the bland environments.

Jack pointing a gun at another character

Just when things are looking up, they turn to shit again.

Audio and Visual

Remedy has done a fantastic job of crafting a visual masterpiece. There is very little difference between gameplay and in-game cutscenes and the flow between them is almost seamless throughout. I didn’t come across any frame rate issues whilst playing and no character model glitches as I see so often. With the game being focussed on plot elements, the scripts and dialogue are of great quality and the acting has plenty to do with the success.

Issues and Problems

Quantum Break whilst enjoyable as a whole package does suffer from some minor issues. The game is divided between engaging combat and boring environment traversal. The decision making can add some extra time on to the 10-hour campaign but not by much and whilst the developers encourage the second playthrough to make changes to your path of gameplay it’s not entirely necessary and isn’t really worth the extra time. The live-action show that’s included on the side will be hit or miss for many players but for some, it could add an extra couple hours of enjoyment for some.

7.5
Good
Quantum Break
Conclusion
Quantum Break is a great addition to the Xbox One's line-up of exclusive titles but won't be for everyone. If you're story driven and don't mind the story coming before the action, you should stick around. Remedy have done well here but it has me wondering, Alan Wake 2 when?
Things I Liked
Mix of live-action and gameplay can be interesting
Gameplay and mechanics aren't completely shoddy and elements flow well
A heavily story-driven game which I don't mind
Things I Didn't Like
The live-action elements take up a large portion of the game with extra available to download
Parts of the story are tedious

What are your thoughts?