Chuck went pretty hard for Quantum Break when it released on the Xbox One earlier this year. You can check out his review here, I myself let the exclusive pass me by, simply because I had too many other titles to play at the time. However a recent refresh of my PC hardware has left me wanting to enjoy more games on my PC, and Quantum Break just happened to have a PC edition coming, so why the hell not give this one a shot? I’ve been pretty in the dark about this game, much like I am about Remedy’s other titles. And it’s not that I don’t believe the hype, but it’s more that Remedy does such a good job in crafting a story and narrative, that I don’t want to run the risk of spoiling it for myself until I’m ready. It’s ultimately what lead me to enjoy Max Payne, Alan Wake, and now, Quantum Break.
You can get a good synopsis of the story from Chuck’s review, but here’s the shorthand. Jack Joyce is visiting his old friend Paul Serene at his lab on campus in the college that occupies idyllic Riverport. Paul’s got something big to show off, and it involves time travel, and the sci-fi tropes start running rampant and now we’ve got something that has essentially created ‘The End of Time,’ known as The Fracture. Paul’s become a mad super-villain, and Jack had to stop him with his newly acquired powers that allow him to manipulate time, and function within ‘stutters’ where time seems to stand still. But here’s where Remedy deviates ever so slightly in their storytelling. Players are treated to a live action show in between major chapters of the game, so in addition to the roughly five hours of gameplay, there’s an additional two hours of video content that helps bookend a lot of the story elements, and it’s interesting to see how your trip through the game affects these episodes, for example, if you turn on a radio that’s reading an audio-book midway through the chapter, that radio playback will come in during the episode. Remedy has done a wonderful job with their storytelling this time around, and doesn’t get too bogged down in time paradoxes or anything too nonsensical.
Quantum Break also has that other thing going for it that Remedy is known for, Well-crafted gameplay. The combat and gunplay hits all the right notes without being overly tedious or cheap, although the final boss battle is probably the only exception I would make, in that instance some of the deaths felt cheap and beyond my control, even with all of Jack’s super-powers available to me. The pacing is excellent, not full of enemy spawn closets, and playing this game with a mouse and keyboard isn’t too far off from using a controller, after using both though, the precision of mouse and keyboard was what sold me on that control method. There are a ton of pick-ups and story elements that are told through emails and notes, and this is probably the only nitpick I had with the game, is that there gets to be a little too much to read at times, some areas are dense with story elements, and it kind of locks you down to one place for a little too long. Seeing a field of yellow light up when you use Jack’s Time Vision skill causes a sense of dread and kicks in my OCD of needing to find and read every single thing that is available, just to make sure I get it done.
Time to put on my PC master race hat (that I only recently acquired) and talk visuals. The console generation still has a major gap between them and high end PCs, and the visuals of Quantum Break are really at their peak when running on some of the latest hardware. This game was handled at 1440p like a champ on a GTX1070, and it looks absolutely fantastic, and aside from some awkward transitional hiccups between cutscene and gameplay, the game easily ran at a solid 60fps. The character models still have a level of uncanny valley they cannot shake though, and it’s all the more apparent when you see their live-action actors on screen. But what’s really impressive about Quantum Break is its visual imagery, the sight of time frozen in place, chaos captured in an instant when a ship collides with a bridge, or seeing cars precariously placed in midair as a result of an explosion.
The audio team at Remedy should also be commended for all their impressive work. The gameplay gains a certain amount of intensity thanks to the audio technology that halts, augments, and tinkers with all the sounds while your time manipulation powers are in play. The music gets tweaked in the same manner and it all sounds great. The voice acting in Quantum Break is also quite good, with Shawn Ashmore portraying Jack Joyce, and the added star power of Aidan Gillen and Lance Reddick to serve as a pretty good antagonists helps to really sell the live-action portions of the story.
Chuck was adamant on wanting to hop back in for a second run of Quantum Break after finishing it. I don’t totally agree with that sentiment, but I definitely think that Quantum Break is one of the year’s best titles, and it does this by striking a fantastic balance between story and gameplay elements. The combat never really gets tiresome, and the world is full of interesting things to find. If anything I want to hop back in to find all the story elements I missed the first time around, which weren’t that many, and not enough to make me feel like I might have skipped some story material, but more to make sure I experienced everything this game had to offer. I might swing through it again on a harder difficulty level, as the default difficulty isn’t too harsh, it’s definitely a lot more forgiving than Alan Wake, but still manages to feel ‘fair’ up until that final boss fight.
If you happened to let Quantum Break pass you by on Xbox One, then this is definitely the way to go if you want to try it. Having the visual cap removed really makes this one of the best looking games of the year, and it also comes at a much sweeter, lower price point. The game has enough content to last about a good weekend, and sometimes, that’s just fine, it’s still a better value than going to the movies, and you’re getting roughly the same experience. Definitely make sure you try Quantum Break, or at least put it on your, ‘games I meant to play in 2016 but didn’t list.’ Remedy games are a rare sight these days, and given the quality of the content that they produce, I’d say that Quantum Break has been worth the wait.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
In a past life I worked with Interplay, EA, Harmonix, Konami, and a number of other developers. Now I'm working for a record label, a small arm of casual games in a media company along with Gaming Nexus, and anywhere else that sees fit to employ me.