Game developer Remedy Entertainment throughout the years have brought us amazing and creative works including the slow mo, third person, action shooter series Max Payne (2001), and dark psychological thriller Alan Wake (2010). Even to this day they continue to produce quality games as proven with their latest release, Quantum Break (2016), which clearly has taken inspiration from these previous games and improves on them in every standard. Quantum Break’s combination of gameplay and unique mechanics, TV visual narrative, and CGI together seems to set the developer’s bar of creative refinement that much higher.
Quantum Break follows the story of protagonist Jack Joyce (Shawn Ashmore) after an accident involving a time travel experiment goes wrong. His exposure to ‘chronon’ radiation allows him to manipulate time granting him a host of new abilities. These are put to the test as he attempts to fix the ‘fracture’ and the end of time itself caused by the failed experiment and put things right; all whilst opposing shady mega corporation Monarch Solutions and its CEO Paul Serene (Aidan Gillen) who has his own perspective on the looming crisis.The first thing I really came to appreciate about this game is the detailed story and its cinematic driven narrative. It’s really well crafted to the point where I would rank the game alongside other greats such as Red Dead Redemption, the Uncharted series and The Last of Us. This is not for its linear style gameplay and approach, but mainly in its ability to draw you into this fascinating and incredible world and make you glad that you got to experience it in a unique way. After all, who doesn’t like time travel? Well when you can understand the logic at least, which Quantum Break manages surprising well. There are games that feature time travel or use it as a plot device, but none delve into the implications of it or the science behind it, which Remedy have achieved without being confusing. I’ll give credit where it’s due since time travel is a difficult subject to portray well, but Quantum Break has clear rules, sticks to them, and more importantly it does not change or break them for some effect. Don’t get me wrong though, despite its linear narrative the game still has its, “Aha…!”, “Holy $?£%”, and “Wait, does that mean…?” moments which is impressive writing in my opinion.
Actor vs Motion Capture – Which did it better?
Another thing I really enjoyed about Quantum Break was that I was emotionally attached, and to a certain extent, emotionally invested in all the characters and the actors who brought them to life. Remedy have taken motion capture performance to the next level where it is amazingly authentic and comparable to the real deal. Shawn Ashmore for example, is known/labeled mainly for his role in the X-Men franchise as Bobby Drake/Iceman, but has proven that he is much more than that. Ashmore gives a great performance throughout the story and made me love the character of Jack Joyce that much more. The whole cast from well known actors such as Aiden ‘Littlefinger’ Gillen and Lance Reddick, to the ones you probably haven’t heard of like Courtney Hope and Mimi Michaels, have all contributed a great deal towards the game’s engaging narrative, as well as its television production approach.
Speaking of, the live action element surprisingly blends in well with the actual gameplay and adds depth that would not otherwise get across from shooting Monarch goons in the face and moving on to the next area over and over again. I admit when I heard this was a feature I had my worries given that similar attempts have been made by others and failed, like Defiance (2013). Remember Defiance? No? I’m not surprised, but Remedy made this work for them by making the player feel in control. By this I mean that at certain ‘junction’ points in the game you are given 2 choice,s and what you go through with directly impacts the game and your consequent perspective of events as they unfold. With this in mind you’re going to get a very unique experience when playing Quantum Break, and like myself you will likely end up playing it again just to relive certain moments. The joys of time travel, am I right?My only issue with Quantum Break is that even though it does have replayability, it’s limited. Finding the story collectibles is not hard at all with your powers, and when you’ve finished the game it’s just a matter of following the linear storyline again holding down the left trigger instead of the right or vice versa for whatever decision you made before. Though let’s be honest, a lot of single player story driven games suffer from this problem and it can’t really be helped. Even though my time with the game is over and I have finished everything that the game has to offer, I enjoyed every slow mo second of it and cannot wait for the sequel, because there is more than enough potential for one.