As the credits began to roll, I jumped from my chair in excitement for what was the greatest setup for a sequel I’ve ever seen in a video game.
Quantum Break is the Sci-Fi action adventure Microsoft exclusive which has been in development by Remedy Entertainment for over six years. Remedy has made very good use of those six years.
After playing this game for the first time, I only want more. Gunplay was short of its potential, but the abilities and great AI made combat unique. The environments are interesting and fun to interact with.
Quantum Break takes leaps and bounds in writing. From a storytelling standpoint, Quantum Break is a revolutionary science fiction adventure.
Revolutionary Writing On Par With Alan Wake
Quantum Break follows suit with Remedy Entertainment’s previous titles such as Alan Wake and Max Payne by leading with a flawed character with superhuman powers.
The game follows the story of Jack Joyce as he meets his friend Paul Serene who has just made a time machine. The time machine malfunctions, and Paul is sent back 17 years into the past, only to come back as a 17 year older supervillain CEO of company Monarch, hellbent on manipulating time to further his own goal.
This goal of his however, involves pretty much stopping time from flowing ever again. So begins Jack Joyce’s supernatural adventure to stop his friend. The rest of the story is best left to the player as its truly an experience worth enjoying.
Quantum Break creates a beautifully crafted story with a complex but easy to follow storyline. At no point did I feel lost or have trouble understanding what was going on at any moment.
At four different points in the game, you switch to the perspective of Paul and make an A or B choice. Depending on which choice you make, the entire story will play out differently. Junctions seem to only have a short term effect on the game, but it changes how the entire game plays out.
Quantum Break makes every choice you make impact the world you play in. The junctions put you in control of the villain, making your choices much more interesting. You make the decision as the villain, which will make you think about what benefits the villain first, rather than what benefits the hero first.
Junctions have such an impact on the game, it made me start playing the entire game through a second time just to see how it played differently.
The Most Visually Stunning Game I’ve Ever Played
This game features some of the most highly detailed graphics in a video game to date.
This game easily has the most detailed faces in animation history. In the picture below, you can see the individual blemishes on his face!
The faces of each character are scary spot-on to the live human beings in the Quantum Break show:
It also features some of the most complex and clever special effects I’ve ever seen.
Animations always look beautiful and realistic. There wasn’t a single moment in the game where an animation seemed off.
Gameplay also seamlessly blends with cutscenes, which is very good because there are a lot of cutscenes. The cutscenes are all in-engine and I never noticed the game look worse than the cutscenes which is truly impressive since the cutscenes are all pre-rendered.
Quantum Break has some short environmental puzzles which mostly require you find your way around the area you’re in and do some jumping around. The puzzles are really easy but interesting nonetheless, and make me wish they included some more.
Smart AI Keeps Combat Fresh
Quantum Break markets itself as a cover-based shooter, but staying in cover is the easiest way to get yourself killed. The AI is aggressive and works together in a challenging way that rewards a player who always moves around.
I won’t talk about this much because spoilers duh but I’ve always been a stickler for the way movies and games setup space for a sequel and playing Quantum Break after XCOM 2's extremely lackluster ending was really satisfying and made me happy and excited to wait another 6 years for the sequel.
There is plenty of exploration to do in Quantum Break and plenty of justification to always look around. Pressing V activates a ping which detects points of interest, enemies, and explosives. If I’m not in combat, I’m mashing the V key every five seconds.
The upgrade system in Quantum Break requires you find “Chronon Sources” which give you upgrade points. Seeing as they’re your only method of upgrading your abilities, exploration is highly encouraged. These sources aren’t too hard to find, and add plenty of time and reason to explore the game.
On top of that, there are items in the game which can effect the live action TV show in very minor, entertaining ways.
At one point in my playthrough, I was playing with Monarch on my tail. I was able to access a computer and post to a site dedicated to finding me that I was seen in the back of a catering van. Because I did this, a few seconds of the live action show are dedicated to showing monarch soldiers arresting the drivers of a catering van. Its not significant and doesn’t affect the story in any way, but its entertaining.
A Companion TV Show That Makes Me Wish There Was More
Quantum Break comes with a mostly necessary TV show which takes up an hour and a half of the game itself. The story follows side characters in the game, rather than protagonist Jack Joyce. Monarch security captain Liam Burke takes center stage, well played by Patrick Heusinger. Throughout the four episodes, Jack Joyce played by Shawn Ashmore rarely shows up He only has two moments in the show where he actually speaks.
The actions of Liam Burke and the other characters in the show remind me a lot of Watchmen. In Watchmen there is a sidestory featuring normal people such as a psychiatrist, a man running a newsstand, and some other characters. All throughout the story, they seem pretty insignificant in the huge picture that the story is. It isn’t until the end of Watchmen and Quantum Break that their presence means anything.
While in Watchmen these characters make a powerful point about the horrors of nuclear weapons, the characters of Quantum Break’s show mostly disappear without any closure of any kind. While the character Charlie played by Marshall Allman did make his presence made in the closing act of the game, he leaves the player to his own devices and is never seen again.
It seemed like a fantastic performance from the whole cast was stopped short before it could reach a climax.
Then again, this is all based off of my first playthrough of the game. The TV show is drastically different based on what choices you make during the Junctions.
Combat Needs Balancing
Quantum Break has awesome abilities for the player to mess around with. From shields to dashes, to outright stopping time as you run around like a maniac, the abilities are the star of Quantum Break’s combat. They’re fun, they’re plentiful, and they really keep each fight alive and fresh.
Thats where the praise ends.
Guns have too much kick for little too damage. I never have a reason to turn the game up to the hardest difficulty because the game cops out with tweaking the difficulty. Rather than giving the enemies tougher AI or giving the enemies stronger abilities enemies just deal more damage and you deal less damage. Its boring and leaves me with no reason to turn the difficulty up to hard.
The game does have interesting enemies, with some being able to defy time similar to Jack Joyce, and forces the player to fully utilize their abilities.
There are so many cool things about the combat and enemies but the weak gunplay just drags it all down.
Note, the performance issues present on PC are less evident on the Xbox One.
Now, I’m not talking about the stutters in the game’s story, but rather the constant stuttering of frame rate.
Frame rate can drop from 50 frames per second on medium settings to only 20 just by moving five feet. I constantly lost fights in the game because there was so much stuttering and frame rate loss.
I’ll move my mouse enough to move my camera 10 degrees, and the game will stutter for a few seconds, then suddenly I’ve done a 180 degree turn.
Even worse, changing your graphics settings seem to not do anything. Even more weird, removing the in-game HUD seems to tank frame rate by 10 fps so getting screenshots in the best looking version of the best looking game available is nigh impossible.
When frame rate goes down, the game turns on a weird motion blur effect, with what seems to be the blending of frames. If I turn my camera left, I can see parts of the picture drag as I turn. Its such a weird problem and can be best compared to taking a picture with a shaky hand. Its ugly and makes playing at 30 FPS even harder.
The performance of the game detracts from the gameplay heavily and is important to take into account when purchasing Quantum Break.
The Windows Store
The PC port of Quantum Break is on the Windows store, which is absolute trash. When both Microsoft and Remedy entertainment elegantly denied me a review copy for Quantum Break by never responding to my emails despite me sending over a dozen within a month of the game coming out, I was forced to purchase the game on launch day from the windows store. Didn’t work. I ended up with a big black box, which was supposed to be how I buy the game. Didn’t work. The box just said “processing” then closed itself, with the game remaining un-bought.
How far did the Windows store make me go in order to purchase the game?
I had to re-install windows 10. I have everything on my computer backed up on an external hard drive, so I just went “screw it” and so I hard reset my computer, setting it to the factory standard. I re-installed everything, then the windows store worked.
I understand Microsoft’s desire to build its own distribution platform to compete with Steam, but if Microsoft wants to release triple A titles on their platform, it better work, otherwise they’re asking for lower sales. Its Origin all over again.
I Can Almost Excuse The Frame Rate Issues
Quantum Break runs off of the most advanced technology available now. The special effects and lighting are unlike any game ever made, bringing photorealistic games to a whole new level.
I’m running on a GTX 960ti, a moderately high-tier graphics card. I managed to play the game with the highest lighting and texture. Most people don’t have a graphics card like mine (or better than mine for that matter) so I feel this game won’t work for most PC gamers. However, from a critical standpoint, I find it understandable since the game is so advanced.
Quantum Break is an astounding story with revolutionary writing and brilliant graphics. Although its shooting could not stand on its own, the abilities you receive in the game bring the combat to a much more entertaining level.
More than a week after the game came out, I’m still going back to playing it. I just love reliving each combination of the stories junctions
Quantum Break is a stellar experience which, despite its shortcomings, proves there is still a big place for great single-player experiences in modern gaming.
You’re reading TAY, Kotaku’s community-run blog. TAY is written by and for Kotaku readers like you. We write about games, art, culture and everything in between. Want to write with us? Check out our tutorial here and join in.
To contact the author of this post, e-mail him at email@example.com or tweet him @Geo_star101