Remedy Entertainment has been working on Quantum Break for the past several years and they set out to deliver a unique experience, the likes of which no one had ever seen before. The hybrid game, TV show concept certainly posed amazing possibilities, but the reality turns out to be that Quantum Break is an entertaining TV show that unfortunately, is an average game.
Perhaps one of the most surprises aspects of Quantum Break has to be its uniqueness, and those things include Junctions, Stutters and of course, the TV show. Where Quantum Break falls short is in its core gameplay and mechanics, both of which turn out to be repetitive and unsatisfying.
However, let’s start with what makes Quantum Break such an entertaining experience, even despite some of its shortcomings. The four episodes that encompass the TV show are actually very enjoyable, and I connected with many of the characters in the game. From the main characters to the supporting cast, Quantum Break the TV show delivered in a big way.
The TV episodes were brilliant in that they showed the other side of the coin, i.e. Monarch Solutions. Gameplay was centered on Jack Joyce and his plight to stop time from ending, while TV time was used for embellishing the fascinating and complex characters of Monarch. Getting to know their families, fears and fates all helped add so much depth.
Characters you’ll frequently see in these episodes are people like Paul Serene (Founder of Monarch Solutions), Martin Hatch (Paul’s right hand man), Charlie Wincott (Monarch’s brilliant tech man), Liam Burke (Monarch’s hit man), Fiona Miller (Monarch employee), Sofia Amaral (Paul Serene’s doctor) and many more. I was impressed with how effective each episode was in pushing character stories forward, especially when you consider the short duration of each.
I was somewhat expecting the usual cliché personalities and individuals we usually get when gaming goes real-life, but Quantum Break smashed that perception and created characters I cared deeply for, even for multiple playthroughs. Charlie and Liam were standouts in my mind, and as players will find out on their own, the fates of these two are ever so intertwined. Quantum Break destroys the stigma that video games can’t do real-life entertainment, and in fact, the TV show does it better than many television shows out there today.
Quantum Break has four Junctions where choice takes center stage. In these instances, players assume the role of Paul Serene and control him for a brief sequence. Junctions force players to choose how Paul handles a certain situation and the outcomes of these choices range from subtle to supreme, from diminutive to death. It takes two full playthroughs to realize the impact Junctions have, and rest assured, they are quite meaningful.
Finally, Stutters are some of the most incredible set pieces in Quantum Break and are unbelievable to experience. Basically, these are puzzles that have certain parts where a bridge or path is collapsing, and gamers must use their brains to get passed them. The manner in which Remedy has generated these instances is phenomenal and really shows the originality that lies within the whole studio.
Switching gears to gameplay, this was the part of the game that I felt like was most formulaic and repetitive. Combat featured some cover-based mechanics, though there was no cover button, and for the most part, Quantum Break had the same sorts of enemies. There were maybe a half dozen enemy archetypes in the game, but only half of the half dozen truly felt unique.
Weapons in the game were generic as you could use an assault rifle, SMG, shotgun, light-machine gun or handgun, but there was no meaningful customization or weapon variety within each type. With all due respect to Jack’s abilities, the combat just felt like a part of the experience because it needed to be, not because it was meant to be. It, and a lot of the gameplay itself, felt more obligatory than anything else.
Perhaps one of the biggest issues I have with the gameplay is the fact that Jack Joyce’s powers are not earned. They are freely and easily given away. I did nothing to earn my powers and they just felt cheap as a result. It’s surprising and disappointing that a greater effort was not made to ask the player to earn their abilities, which make no mistake are intelligent and a ton of fun to use. Aside from being in the right place at the right time, what did the player do to earn these abilities? Nothing.
A bigger effort would have brought greater justification to the fact that there is an upgrade system to these abilities, but even this element of the system isn’t needed. You can easily go through the campaign of Quantum Break on normal difficulty and not have to earn one single upgrade to further your abilities. What is the point of having upgrades if the player isn’t compelled or even required to use them?
I find myself in a quandary when thinking about Quantum Break because on one hand, it is an absolute success with how it is able to blend a TV show into a game, but on the other hand, it is a swing and a miss because of its gameplay shortcomings. Quantum Break is unlike any experience you are going to find in video games today, and for that reason, it absolutely deserves additional consideration.
If you are more interested in Quantum Break for its gameplay, you may want to hold off until a sale or rental fits your budget, but if you are looking for something that takes a daring step forward with how a video game can be made, Quantum Break is perfect for you.
- Entertaining TV show
- Characters you care about
- Repetitive gameplay
- Abilities feel cheap
Microsoft provided byteclay.com with an Xbox One code of Quantum Break for the purposes of this review.