Quantum Break is an amazing and quality masterpiece. Usually, I beat around the bush in the intro of my reviews, tell you how the game might be great, or hinting at the fact that the game has flaws in my opening statement, however, with Quantum Break, I simply cannot do that. I went into Quantum Break with no expectations on what to expect and because of that, the game hit me like a ton of bricks as I was engorged by thrilling gameplay, incredible storytelling and the surprising ability to make me feel like a time-wielding badass. Quantum Break rocked my jolly’s and if you’re planning to pick it up, it’ll rock yours too.
My first impressions of the game were actually quite weak. After downloading and booting the game up, I really wasn’t sure what I was getting into. Right away, you are introduced to main protagonist Jack Joyce, and his friend Paul Serene (who ends up being the game’s asshole of an antagonist). Avoiding potential spoilers, a significant event called the ‘Time Fracture’ takes place, leaving Joyce and Mr. Serene paralyzed in time, with everything frozen and stuck. After the time-freeze wears off, you and your brother William Joyce become the victims of Paul’s cruel plan and you begin learning about your new-found powers with every single gun pointed at your face. No seriously, with every turn, you swiftly avoid death by using one of your new abilities by mistake. While Jack doesn’t know how he does it initially, the game automatically assumes that “Well, he did it once, now he knows how to master it”. When you learn that almost every damn button on your controller has an effect on time in some way like forming a time shield to stop the over-encumbering amount of bullets about to enter your rectum, the game decides to throw more powers at you to the point where you actually forget how to use some of your abilities.
At about Act 4 though, the only abilities I really used were Time Rush and Time Vision. The reason for this was because I forgot how to use the other 4 abilities that the game gives you. Not saying I didn’t have much of a problem with the majority of the game, but when you have two guys with stupid amounts of armor attacking you with the most powerful rapid fire machine gun ever created, it would be nice to have a gentle reminder saying “Hey idiot, press and hold B to stop these bullets from destroying your soul”. But I digress. once you begin to get a feeling of the game’s time mechanics, it makes you feel like the “Time-Wielding badass” I mentioned at the beginning of this review. This mechanic opens up a fresh, new way to enjoy the action-adventure shooting game that is shown off in games such as Uncharted or Tomb Raider. While without the time powers, the game simply feels like a 1-1 remake of said titles, the powers that Joyce has really do change up how you think and move in the middle of a firefight.
Speaking of firefights, I really wish there was a bit more “Action” in your”Action-Adventure” game, Remedy. The third-person shooter aspect of the game is amazing and makes the player feel in control, but in one single act, there are only a handful of times where you actually get to shoot your gun. When you aren’t shooting your gun, you are scaling walls, buildings or other obstacles in your way to reach your objective. There are a ton of collectibles to find throughout your travels, which will help you earn the 100% game completion near the end of the game, which does add some “Let’s go back and find all the little pieces” before we shelve the game until the next Quantum Break is released. For myself, these collectibles weren’t hard to find – if at all – as they were hidden in plain sight if you utilized your “Time Vision” skill a lot. You see, this “Time Vision” skill shows you damn near everything including collectible hiding spots, enemies, interactive objects and of course, where you are supposed to go next. If you are looking to hit 100% completion in this game, you will be viewing much of the game through the fashionable blue lenses that present themselves when you use Time Vision, something which kind of takes away from actually using it really. Every corner I turned I was using it to find hidden secrets found around the game, which made the experience in finding these collectibles a little easy. Of course, they would also force you to use it if you want to earn these Chronon Spheres to help upgrade Jack Joyce’s abilities… but we will talk more about this later.
Now, hold on Skyler. You mentioned there was a live-show component and you didn’t go further in detail!? “Calm Down!” exclaimed me, furiously typing at my keyboard trying to write this review while you breathe down the hairs on my neck. Yes, there is a live-show in this game, and it plays based on the decisions you make in the game’s story line. Players have the opportunity to control Paul Serene, the game’s main antagonist, to make choices that affect what happens in the story. Before making each decision, you are given a brief glimpse into the future on what these decisions will impact down the road. From here, you make your decision based on how evil or how good you want to be, with most of the decisions being going to the most extreme end of the spectrum. Of course, the moment you make this decision, that decision plays out in a live-show, filled with real A-list actors and a surprising amount of detail and attention put into making what could be a TV series. The issue with this, is that players want to play a video game, not watch it, and with the live-show, you feel forced to have to watch through each 22 minute episode. While they are totally skip-able, the live-shows do contain a fair bit of content to compliment the game’s main story. While the live-show is good enough to watch, without feeling cheesy or cheap, this may make or break someone’s experience with Quantum Break if all you want to do is play the game. This is something I personally enjoyed watching as it provided a break after I spent about 2-3 hours beating each act, mainly because I didn’t feel like I was watching a high-school project. It felt like I was watching a AAA show such as Breaking Bad or The Walking Dead.
When the game isn’t running the live-show, you are left with a beautiful game, despite the game being in 720p. Don’t let this have any effect on your experience with the game though, as the game is graphically stunning anyway. The facial textures allowed me to view the exact expression in each individual’s face from fear to joy, and it was definitely something that has yet to be seen in modern AAA titles. I had to stop in the middle of a firefight to analyse the ripple effect that happens when you use your Time Shift ability. This ripple effect was strangely distracting, watching things near me bend and flex as the ripple crashed into it. It was like browsing the Oddly Satisfying board on Reddit, I was mesmerized by it. Everything starts to ripple in front of you and it just felt so satisfying to observe mid-game. This may sound strange, but often times I was guilty of diverting my eyes to different parts of the screen when in the middle of a gunfight because I wanted to see how things reacted when I used my powers. There was no screen-tearing or visible drops in frames, and the experience was smooth as it was visually incredible.
Further, all the actor’s came together to deliver a top-notch movie experience via the in-game cinematics. The crisp and incredibly detailed Audio quality paired with the characters lifelike animations made for an interesting connection between myself and the characters. During the in-game cinematics, the characters felt as real as they did during the live show and didn’t feel robotic – something rarely found in traditional video games. The audio quality was at it’s highest point too, where the audio feedback would change depending on what type of environment you are in. You can distinctly hear the difference in sound quality whether you were in an open field, or a tightly knit space. It’s a very hard task to match the in-game experience with something as lifelike as a live-action show, but god damn, Remedy Entertainment pulled it off, and it definitely paid off for them in the end.
I think the reason why the live-show was so good was that it showcased multiple different sides of Jack Joyce’s story, especially from the point of view of Paul Serene’s Monarch Corporation. The storytelling in Quantum Break , combined with the intense drama filled adventure is what dragged me in to play more. There are definitely a lot of stressful points scattered through the games plot and it just kept me guessing and questioning what was going to happen next. The game did close off with an interesting lead-up into a potential sequel for the game as well as leave you with a crap ton of questions, where you start analyzing every little thing about the game’s story to figure out how the end actually came to fruition. While it won’t confuse you by telling you lies or trying to throw you off, the game encourages you to play a couple run-throughs of the game to fully understand how everything falls in place. This, combined with the few different ways that the game can end, based on your decisions from Paul Serene’s side of things, make Quantum Break an enjoyable, replayable experience.
“Calling Quantum Break a ‘Game of the year’ contender is an extreme understatement; it has the potential to be the best game of it’s generation.”
Going back to what I touched up on earlier, about Jack Joyce’s abilities. Throughout your experience, you will learn a total of six different abilities, which you can upgrade three times using these items called ‘Chronon Spheres’. Sixty of these spheres are hidden throughout the game, 54 of which I found on my first playthrough, so needless to say, they aren’t hard to locate. Now, I mention you can upgrade the abilities, like it will dramatically improve your skills as a time-shifting wizard but while they provide minor upgrades, I wouldn’t say that they are required to beat the game. They more or less feel like another extension to the collectible asset of Quantum Break than they do a necessary addition to your skills. If you are completionist, chances are you will be spamming your ‘Time vision’ skill around every corner until you find each and every little collectible you can get your hands on, however, in the case that you don’t care about collectibles, you should have no problem just blasting through the game to enjoy the games storyline.
Calling Quantum Break a ‘Game of the year’ contender is an extreme understatement; it has the potential to be the best game of the generation. Lots of software has still yet to launch on current-generation platforms, but I feel that very little will surpass Quantum Break when it comes to the attention to detail and amount of just plain fun the game has. If you own an Xbox One or a Windows 10 PC with appropriate hardware, don’t delay and pick this game up as soon as possible. You won’t regret it.