In true Remedy style, Quantum Break has been a long time in coming. Ever since the game was announced in 2013 it has caused intrigue among the gaming community, a game that allowed you to make choices that would affect a Live Action TV show? It all felt a little bit like when Defiance released, but this is Remedy we are talking about; famed for superb games in the form of Max Payne & Alan Wake and thankfully they haven’t disappointed with Quantum Break.
In the game, you play as Jack Joyce, a digital version of Shawn Ashmore who is brother to a genius called William, played by Dominic Monaghan. Jack inherits some rather excellent time distorting powers that will help him against the Monarch Corporation, headed up by the evil Paul Serene played by Aiden Gillen.
Split into five parts, Quantum break takes you on a time twisting adventure with superb storytelling and combat to match. As you reach the end of each act the focus of the game move to Serene, who you take control of. During the small amount of time that you fill his shoes you are presented with a Junction; a choice to make, which will affect what happens next in the game. The path you choose essentially decides which version of the TV series that you see.
Each episode last between 20-22 minutes and thanks to the excellent cast the shows are quite entertaining. It was brave choice by Remedy to to have the game broken up by a TV show but thankfully it had paid off. It’s obvious they got some good writers in and the acting is excellent. I enjoyed finding out more about the other characters involved with the story, apart from Serene you saw very little of the main cast and it added extra depth to the story. I felt there could have been a extra episode to tidy up loose ends but thankfully the game still does a good job off that. Every episode is streamed to your console, but if you prefer you can take advantage of a 75 gig download to save time, pardon the pun. At any point of the game you can quit to the main menu and use the timeline, to revisit any part of the game. If you choose to, you can replay individual acts or start at the different junctions so you can change the decision Serene makes.
Back in the actual game Remedy have done a great job of pacing the story, some of the quieter sections of the game reminded me of The Last of Us. There are lots of layers of dialogue, whether it’s Joyce’s inner monologue, the conversations he has with the people he meets or the overriding discussion he has with a woman you don’t get to see. There are some brilliant set pieces to play through, especially as you get to the final third of the game, so keep an eye out for those.
As with all games in this generation there is a lot of focus on a game p’s and i’s – but let’s keep make things simple, it looks incredible. There is a very small difference between cutscenes and gameplay, the character models all look excellent, and the environments are great to explore. Remedy have done an excellent job with the lighting, combined with the motion blur and filters it’s unlikely you’ll notice anything wrong with the visuals.
I purposely tried to avoid reading too much about the game beforehand, I wanted the experience to be a fresh as possible, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from the combat, I was pleasantly surprised with what Remedy have put together. As I mentioned earlier, there are plenty of times in the game where things are quiet, allowing you to reflect on the story, in the combat sections there is none of that. Joyce automatically ducks in to cover as he nears surfaces but this if you think you’ll get through the game shooting from cover you’ll be mistaken.
Remedy have given Joyce a set of powers that encourage you to move rather than stay hidden, the AI will always try to flank you, so you need to be on your toes. You start of being able to freeze people in time for 10 seconds, giving you the chance to unleash as many bullets as possible and once they unfreeze they suffer a nasty end. You can also time dash from one side of the room to the other, pressing the left trigger just before the movement ends gives you a few seconds of bullet time to line up shots.
As you progress through the game, you unleash some greater power such as a Time Blast, a powerful explosion of time that can kill multiple enemies, but you are dealing with Serene and Monarch, who have developed harnesses that can allow their forces to take advantage of the same powers Joye possesses. It adds an extra dynamic to the combat and keeps you from doing the same thing over and over to get through the levels. Your powers can be upgraded but I got through the game on normal with barely any upgrades.
You’ll use your time powers to solve some environmental puzzles, as well as helping you discover parts of the backstory. There aren’t a huge amount of collectables, but the emails, posters, videos and audio files you come across are well worth reading through and that’s coming from someone who tends not to bother with them.
There are plenty of positives to Quantum Break, but the biggest let down for me is the loading times, apart from being inconsistent, the majority of the time the amount of time you wait is far too long. I also noticed a couple of times that the loading screen would pop up briefly during cut scenes, which did affect the immersion of the game.
I had a great time with Quantum Break, Remedy have been brave with their choices and it seems they have paid off. I would have happily watched longer episodes in order for them to go deeper into the story, hopefully they can do something to improve the loading times but it’s not enough to spoil what is an excellent game.