Quantum Break is the shot of pure adrenaline that the Xbox One so badly needed. Seen as the relic of a bygone, TV-centric era for the console, the game suddenly shot into the games industry with something to prove. And prove something it did.
Remember when the Xbox One was first revealed? Those were dark days for sure, and Quantum Break was the flagship game that was meant to transcend the boundaries between gaming and movies. Only with the TV emphasis for the Xbox One now entirely gone, Quantum Break was left stranded, having to reshuffle it’s cast and focus just two years ago.
However despite all the odds stacked against it, Quantum Break succeeds for being bold and unfaltering in its dedication to the vision of the game, that a TV show and a game can work in harmony. And while the gameplay sections are undoubtedly the main driving force behind the entire product, the TV episodes do a really nice job of acting as a supplement to the complex plot of the game.
I wrote a while back about how I hoped Quantum Break would use the TV episodes to bolster plot details and characters motivations that the game never had time to expand upon, and this is absolutely what Remedy have done with the TV segments. We get glimpses into Monarch, the mysterious evil corporation behind the game, and we critically see what drives the figureheads behind the corporation.
Speaking of Remedy, I’ve never actually played a single one of their games, even though I’ve had Alan Wake’s American Nightmare downloaded on my Xbox One for about a month now. But after this I’m fully willing to accept them as my new gods, and I’d happily pray day and night at the altar of Sam Lake.
While this is partly because Remedy never shy away from interlinking the TV show and the game, it’s also because the team have a wicked sense of humour. You can frequently turn on TV’s throughout the game which show things ranging from Sam Lake acting as an incredibly cliché detective on a murder case, to an actual parody of Quantum Break itself.
There’s a lot of scepticism out there about the TV show segments, and I can definitely see why, but the episodes throughout Quantum Break are easily watchable, and never truly descend into cringe-worthy moments.
Analysing the actual episodes in more detail for a moment, and there are definitely some actors in the episodes that look more comfortable than others. Aiden Gillen doesn’t do bad performances, but nevertheless there are times at which he genuinely looks unsure of what to do. There’s a moment where he goes to fling a chair across the room in anger, and well, he kinda misses the actual chair.
I can’t help but think there wasn’t a strong director behind the TV episodes, which is exactly what Gillen and others look like they could at times do with. This is a real shame, since Gillen largely carries the focus of the TV episodes, and it really looks like he was only available for filming for about three days, before running back off to film Game of Thrones, or reading poems in Irish pubs (yes, he does that).
Elsewhere though, the cast of characters are actually really solid, which came as somewhat of a surprise to me. I’m a huge X-Men fan, but I never really brought Shawn Ashmore as a lead throughout the original trilogy, so it’s a great relief that he actually feels right at home in the boots of Jack Joyce. Maybe it’s because he’s an avid gamer, but I get the idea Ashmore new what he was signing up for, far more than Gillen did.
Lance Reddick from The Wire and Dominic Monaghan from Lord of the Rings are also solid supporting characters throughout the game, and the eighth wonder of the world might be how no one has ever cast Reddick in the ‘smug villain’ role before, because he fits it like a glove.
The general crowd of gamers were far too quick to dismiss Quantum Break as “just another Microsoft cover shooter” when the game was demoed last year at E3. Maybe it’s because the time powers the game employs weren’t fully demonstrated there, but we’re all perhaps guilty of assuming we knew exactly how Quantum Break was going to play, when in reality, the game is constantly throwing great new mechanics and powers at you.
I won’t spoil what powers you can obtain throughout the game (because people might get mad), but Quantum Break has some fantastic tricks up it’s sleeve, and never holds back in letting the player take full advantage of the opportunities presented to them.
I’ve seen some claiming that you should hold off on buying the game until it drops in price, and I’m truly puzzled by this attitude. Quantum Break runs for around 10 hours, which is much longer than the original Gears of War, if we want to compare, and it also has a ton of replayability through decisions made by the player, which greatly affect the TV segments.
As a game that had virtually no hype launching last week, Quantum Break massively exceeded my expectations, and it might just be my favourite new franchise of the last few years. Because don’t you worry, if this game sells even okay (which is less than it deserves) I have no doubt Microsoft will turn it into one of their premier franchises, which is what the ending of the game hints at.
Quantum Break is fully deserving of both your time and cash. Made by the humble, undoubtedly hard working team at Remedy, the game completely blew me away, showing that time travel can have both brains and brawn behind it.