Coming from Remedy - the studio behind Max Payne and Alan Wake – Quantum Break is a sci-fi romp. The studio always blended real world footage with over-the-top, gimmicky gunplay, and now they have gone all the way: interspersing this third-person action game with schlocky TV drama.
There are two clear halves to Quantum Break, the game and the show (both of which are notably separated on IMDB, despite coming in the same package). The game focuses on the hero Jack Joyce (Shawn Ashmore, aka Iceman from X-Men), while the live action portions turn to the villain Paul Serene (Aidan Gillen, aka Littlefinger from Game of Thrones).
Quantum Break revolves around a time experiment gone horribly wrong. Well horribly wrong for some, but not for your character Jack Joyce who gains time powers. With an shady agency coming in to cover up the accident (the wonderfully named Monarch Solutions) you must escape the organization using your new abilities and any guns you find along the way.
Remedy’s action has always focused on its tight gunplay, fast movement, and slow-motion mechanics. However, this is the first time the time bending fun has been justified within the plot. As long as his time juice is charged, Jack can use time-grenades to freeze enemies within its blast radius in place, create a time-shield where bullets slow to a crawl, or speed up time to nip between cover at amazing speed.
Pick your fights
Time powers mix up the action, which is good because this distracts from the spongy controls. In part these soft controls are explained by the fact that Jack is just a kid (not a war hero) with no gun training, resulting in a lot of recoil. Unfortunately for the player, this results in things feeling inaccurate in an age where the standard for third person action is pretty much set. Still, throwing a time grenade, filling it with poorly aimed lead, and watching as time unfreezes and your target is ripped to shreds does have its appeal.
Oddly, the live action element of the show switches focus. Here you follow Paul Serene, the guy behind Monarch Solutions and another recipient of time powers. This is odd for a game, as it offers a look into the antagonist's motivations. This proves entertaining, but can become confusing as you get to make choices during these scenes that can (slightly) affect the plot – this forms a connection with the character that can make confrontations between him and Jack oddly conflicting.
The production values are not amazing, but if you enjoy the odd Syfy Channel original movie then it certainly has its charm. This presentation flows throughout both elements of the game, with great looking but sterile environments leading to an unlived in world.
Quantum Break is an okay action game with fun TV aspirations, but for a title published by Microsoft it all feels a little low budget. As a B-Movie fan this is perfect, but those looking for a more polished experience should probably look elsewhere – particularly while it is full price.