Quantum Break

Quantum Break
 
 

I loathe to consider it an actual genre, but most of us are well-enough acquainted with third-person games by now. Stop-and-pop your way to the end like a game of human whack-a-moles. We know what they’re about, so we’re not likely to be surprised. Quantum Break is also not so different as to make it surprising either, at least not to the degree it may have been hoping.

Despite an experimental narrative style, this is still a story you’ve heard before.

 
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Almost ad nauseam, you’ll be told, “time is ending”. The mistakes of a time-machine entrepreneur catalyse a temporal mission to undo them. It’s a story concerned more with plot than character, too preoccupied with the technicalities of time and its own fiction to spend enough with the people who occupy it. Despite strong conviction from the actors therein and the catastrophic urgency it wanted to inspire, I was never sold. The immediacy expressed so earnestly by everyone felt like artificial dramatising, so as to validate a sense of importance that wasn’t reciprocated.

Much of the allure comes from the advertised TV-video game novelty. That charm may fade, however, against the story’s unending quest to try and prove itself, which ironically made it unconvincing.

Quantum Break is a sort of storytelling cross-breed with its own routine: play, make a choice, watch a 20-minute episode. Whether the televised intermissions between gameplay prove a wall-breaking stop in flow or a welcome recess from combat will depend on the preference of the player. I for one saw them as a refreshing breather from near-relentless fighting, and an intriguing trial in cross-media narratives. For whatever reason, people are much more willing to watch live-action shows than long cutscenes, and Quantum Break takes advantage of the opportunity to use a more passive story approach.

The option to influence the live-action episodes is one of the more touted features, primarily done through “junction points” by Aidan Gillen’s villain. Influence is certainly the correct word, as differing choices don’t change the outcome so much as swap the playing pieces to the same effect. So it is largely an illusion of agency, and that’s the position most games are in. It’s too expensive and time-consuming creating entirely separate branching paths; as you’d essentially be making two different games. Telltale, Bioware, Quantic Dream; many of the ‘choose your own adventure’ developers utilise this technique. The most important thing is that the player believes they have agency, even if that agency is small in truth.

If you want more context, reading the optional emails placed throughout is almost mandatory - and many of these essay-length expositions. Some of the conversations are even quite endearing, and unfortunately so. To have so much of the story relegated to text, instead of an interactive manner unique to the medium, is going to discourage people who want the story elaborated, but also don’t want to read numerous documents of substantial size to do so.

Its concept of quantum chaos is also the staple of its combat. Despite being a game with cover, you’ll spend little time behind it. The AI is too aggressive for you to remain idle, and your powers simply aren’t suited for sedentary fighting. With the ability to rush, stop time, and create shields and time-blasts, you’ll be in constant locomotion. Anyone who’s played action games over the past several years will likely appreciate the change in pace, though that pace doesn’t develop much either. With so few powers and enemy types, your strategies will barely vary, and little remains to differentiate one fight from the next. What started as a revitalising dose of fluid momentum will eventually succumb to repetitious inertia.

The potential for puzzles would seem like natural progression, but Quantum Break doesn’t so much have puzzles as inconvenient obstructions; objects looping in time or mechanisms that need slowing down to let you through. Even these aren’t many. I was expecting more elaborate challenges - though I get the distinct impression this was a missed item on the to-do-list due to time constraints.

Many of its weaknesses are made easier by sheer presentation. If you’re after a popcorn game with an unconventional layout, watching the universe tear at the seams with special effects - you’re playing the right TV series.

Like it’s founding tenant, Quantum Break is a varying wave of flows and pacing. It’s an impressive spectacle of temporal distortions and flashy particle firefights. While some will be content in the showmanship and energetic scurry of its combat, others will feel the onset of drag.

Whether you consider Quantum Break a game with episodes, or a mini-series with interactive segments ultimately doesn’t matter - it’s an experience. It may use an unproven formula, but that blueprint is also the main attraction that piques one’s curiosity, even if my own started to waiver amidst a story too interested in its own keywords to talk about anything more depth-inducing. With a dire need to be amongst the blockbusters, it’s an inoffensive, non-threatening tale with big-name actors who try so seriously to make it otherwise. And while not an one interesting story in itself, Quantum Break has an interesting way of being told.


Quantum Break
"Like a JRPG in disguise."
- Quantum Break
7.0
Good
 
Follow Own it? Rating: R16   Difficulty: Medium   Learning Curve: 15 Min


 

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Comments Comments (14)

 
Posted by jtbthatsme
On Friday 1 Apr 2016 8:47 PM
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The concept of going between game and tv segment sounds interesting and has certainly piqued a lot of interest but I'd have to think that the repetitive nature of FPS games would probably make the whole affair a little tedious.

Also having to read a lot of extra content to get the story wasn't that popular for Destiny so not sure why they'd make it this way for Quantum Break. Probably check it out eventually but certainly won't be a day one purchase for me.
 
 
 
Posted by Bunnny
On Friday 1 Apr 2016 8:53 PM
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1 April 2016, 08:47 PM Reply to jtbthatsme
The concept of going between game and tv segment sounds interesting and has certainly piqued a lot of interest but I'd have to think that the repetitive nature of FPS games would probably make the whole affair a little tedious.

Also having to read a lot of extra content to get the story wasn't that popular for Destiny so not sure why they'd make it this way for Quantum Break. Probably check it out eventually but certainly won't be a day one purchase for me.
Interjecting, destinys story delivery was absolute sh*t.
 
 
 
Posted by kiwiatlarge
On Friday 1 Apr 2016 10:00 PM
1
It's almost like The Order then. A fairly average third person shooter, wrapped in a fairly unique presentation. Interesting concept let down by a lack of fun, addictive gameplay that is worth repeating.
 
 
 
Posted by Outlaw213
On Friday 1 Apr 2016 10:51 PM
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Hmm - Might give it a go on PC when its cheaper
 
 
 
Posted by AudaciousGnome
On Saturday 2 Apr 2016 8:02 AM
-1
1 April 2016, 10:00 PM Reply to kiwiatlarge
It's almost like The Order then. A fairly average third person shooter, wrapped in a fairly unique presentation. Interesting concept let down by a lack of fun, addictive gameplay that is worth repeating.
That's a good call.
 
 
 
Posted by LukeB
On Saturday 2 Apr 2016 1:24 PM
1
I have it pre-ordered, really looking forward to playing it, and especially checking out the difference between the PC and X1 versions :)
 
 
 
Posted by NZBuc
On Saturday 2 Apr 2016 9:42 PM
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I'll be getting this when I have time to play it!
 
 
 
Posted by czk51
On Monday 4 Apr 2016 10:05 AM
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The blink teleporting looks amazing imo. Really want to give this a go but will wait until cheaper, or hire it.
 
 
 
Posted by BlakeyNZ
On Monday 4 Apr 2016 10:34 AM
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2 April 2016, 09:42 PM Reply to NZBuc
I'll be getting this when I have time to play it!
Was that an intended pun?
The more I see it the more I like it, I think its going to be something I have to play as Im really into games with deep storylines and require exploration
 
 
 
Posted by Nibblo
On Wednesday 6 Apr 2016 7:21 PM
1
Have nearly finished this game and as I go on am enjoying it more and more. Similar story driven action game to Alan Wake but the time powers make the combat much more varied and enjoyable. The live action scenes between are very good though some of the minor characters acting is a bit off but the main stars put in awesome performances. Visuals are top notch, some of the best I've seen this gen on any system.
To sum up if you liked alan Wake and want more, this you will love this game but if you thought previous Remedy games were *meh* and dislike narrative driven games with large bouts of time foolery action then stay away.
 
 
 
Posted by ModifiedSoul
On Monday 11 Apr 2016 3:39 PM
1
actually really enjoying this game/media experience, looking forward to more of this
 
 
 
Posted by LukeB
On Wednesday 13 Apr 2016 3:07 PM
1
Wow. Quantum Break is one of the best games I've played this generation!

Love the storytelling. Love the graphics, and especially how accurately they modeled the environments you visit in the live action show. Love the easter eggs. Love how fast the gameplay can be, and how much of a superhero the different time powers made me feel - it was almost as though we were playing a game about being the flash! Loved getting to know both the heroes and villains of the piece, and I was incredibly surprised at how emotional the game got in the third act - really came to understand the main thugs point of view.... just wish.... ugh, no spoilers, so good. And overall, I just had a freaking awesome time with it!

My only real complaints would be first, at times (especially when learning at the start) the controls felt a little sluggish, and would auto-aim at enemy's chests when I wanted to shoot them in the head (an optional feature which could be turned off. Secondly, would have been cool if some of the collectibles were voiced, or touched on more in the core narrative. And third, the last boss fight was a difficulty spike right outta nowhere - I mean, it was super easy once you understood why you were failing, but not encountering any foes with abilities like that leading up to that point made it feel a little cheap.

All-in-all though, I seriously can. Not. WAIT for a follow-up! Especially with how it ends.... Be it Sequel or DLC, c'mon Remedy, let me jump back in that world and continue the story :D
 
 
 
Posted by Benny
On Wednesday 13 Apr 2016 6:42 PM
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You're a lot more positive than I was Luke ;P
 
 
 
Posted by LukeB
On Wednesday 13 Apr 2016 6:55 PM
1
13 April 2016, 06:42 PM Reply to Benny
You're a lot more positive than I was Luke ;P
Heh, yeah, but what can I say, I actually really, really enjoyed my time with it. Just got my PC version, and the 42Gb only took like an hour to download, so I'll take a look and see what that looks like after dinner - Wouldn't mind doing my second run of the game (probably next week) using the mouse and keyboard... if it runs well that is :)