Time travel is confusing business, and there’s a reason no one has cracked this particular egg just yet. What happens when we go back and try and change something? Does the future change? Does it remain intact? Is the action of trying to change something the reason it occurred in the first place? Does that mean we have no control over the future? Does it mean we do?

Quantum Break, the intellectually stimulating time-travelling third person shooter tackles these questions head on in a powerful narrative adventure, that manages to rank in the upper echelons of gaming experiences this generation.

Remedy Entertainment are no strangers to telling engaging, captivating stories that manage to subvert your expectations of them, and Quantum Break starts out no differently. In no time at all you’re introduced to both Jack Joyce and Paul Serene, played by brilliantly motion-captured actors Shawn Ashmore and Aiden Gillen respectively. Jack, the brother to one of the world’s leading scientists in the fictional field of Joyce particles, unwittingly becomes a major player in an event known as the Fracture – an avalanche of misbehaving chronon particles that will eventually bring about the end of time.

Quantum Break Review 1

It’s this accident that imbues Jack with most of his time-bending powers, but one that accelerates the often scientifically intriguing narrative forward at a blisteringly fast pace. It might not seem that way after a campy first Act and a bit, where Quantum Break is so desperately trying to establishes it universe rules, character motives and direction before really diving in, but Quantum Break picks up these pieces in intriguing ways from then on.

What seems like exposition heavy sequences at the start slowly reveal themselves as pivotal moments in the games narrative, as Remedy reigns in the temptation to hop from time period to time period and instead uses (in my opinion) a far more grounded, reasonable approach to how time and its flow works. It leads to some incredibly powerful moments dealing with hope and despair in equal measure, with the entire cast of captured actors doing a fine job of bringing their characters to life in astonishing detail.

Quantum Break Review 2

Detail here being an operative word, because Remedy have painstakingly created a world within which Quantum Break exists that feels so real, so engrossing that it’s hard not to get lost within it. Curious placements of classified emails aside, there’s a wealth of knowledge to rummage through and examine that I spent a lot of my time searching for open PC terminals, discarded smartphones and sometimes just lonely television sets.

Everything that Quantum Break wants you to know is thrown at you, but it’s borderline criminal to race through it all and ignore the phenomenal (and often narratively important) writing that is scattered throughout its world.

And it would be equally criminal to not talk about Quantum Break’s narrative without touching on its most peculiar piece: the inclusion of a dynamic live-action series that splits up each act. While each segment of gameplay should take you roughly two hours to complete, they’re halted by 30 minute long live-action episodes which draw the camera back and focus on a wider set of characters in the narrative. Many of the pivotal characters in the series don’t manifest in the game, although Aidan Gillen’s Paul Serene makes an impact on both digital and live fronts.

Quantum Break Review 3

The series itself is influenced by pivotal decisions you make during Junctions – short little segments of gameplay before each episode where you’re forced to make a forking decision from the view of antagonist Serene. It’s a nice twist to decide on the way the story progresses from the view of the man you’re ultimately hunting to take down, and presents an interesting conflict of interest in the process. Do you choose to make Jack’s life easier, or go full role-play and decided on the route that best suits Serene’s character.

It’s an interesting dynamic that doesn’t have as far-reaching consequences as what might have been in the past, but it’s still an engaging mechanic nonetheless. Choices you make could mean certain characters die in the accompanying series, or a sequence of events unravels in a very different manner. Eventually Quantum Break steers the story to an (ultimately) phenomenal ending, incorporating your choices in a tale that you can’t drastically change. Whether contextual to the plot or not, it works, and the series itself is a inescapable part of what makes Quantum Break’s tale so compelling.

Quantum Break Review 4

So compelling in fact that as soon as I had managed my first playthrough of about 12 or so hours, I immediately wanted to jump back in. Like any good time-travelling tale, the proof of its ingenuity comes with a second take, analysing the small hints and details that you missed the first time around ultimately foreshadowing events to come. Quantum Break is no different, actually feeling like an even better game the second time around. Which, it has to be said, is partly thanks to excellent gameplay pacing. A second playthrough though – one without the searching and the exposition, highlight a game that’s not especially long when its stripped to its core.

When you’re not wandering around listen to characters fill you in with narrative or flipping switches to make really hastily put together machines do incredible things, you’re mostly going to be shooting a small array of different bad guys. Quantum Break sticks to Remedy’s comfortable third-person shooting formula, and brings with it a new set of game changing mechanics to make it feel fresh. The staples are all intact though. Jack takes cover automatically when you approach, actual shooting with the handful of weapons is punchy and satisfying and the well thought-out pacing of narrative and gunplay doesn’t allow the action to overstay its welcome.

Quantum Break Review 7

But while it might be easy to call Quantum Break a cover shooter, the more you play the less of this it becomes. That’s thanks to Jack’s chronon powers, which let him manipulate time in some entertaining ways. One let me fire off a bubble that froze time in a specific area, letting me stack bullets in the suspended field for them to explode in a massive burst of damage. Another let me dash and dip in and out of cover, while my favourite let me suspend time entirely and sprint towards new cover under the guise of frozen time. Experimenting with the ways these powers work sequentially is a fun exercise, especially because of the way they inherently link, and need to be strung together.

Quantum Break doesn’t waste time either, throwing most of these powers at you within the first of the five acts the game takes place over. Instead of introducing them slowly, Quantum Break instead thoughtfully introduces new enemy types to test your mastery of the powers. Some of which are able to strip you of them momentarily, or feature backpacks that make them immune to time freezes or attacks. When the game starts mixing these together in numbers it’s surprisingly challenging, and consistently engaging at the same time.

Quantum Break Review 5

I only wish that these types of thought-provoking uses of your abilities stretched further than just combat. In amongst shooting Quantum Break features some light segments of platforming, most of which happen within Stutters – moments of the game where time is no longer moving. They offer up some opportunities to use your abilities to solve movement puzzles, but the answers are so unashamedly thrown at your that their solutions don’t feel rewarding. It’s nowhere near enough to make the segments throwaway, but I do wonder about what could’ve been instead.

There is no such disappointment in the way Quantum Break is presented however, and it’s easy to say that Remedy have delivered on the visual marvel that they promised all those years ago. Some of the technicalities aside, Quantum Break is simply breath-taking all the time, easily cementing itself as the best looking game on the Xbox One right now. I’d even wager to say it’s one of the best this generation, with Remedy pulling no punches.

Quantum Break Review 6

The way light reacts to frozen time is spellbinding, and seeing objects in suspended motion and the trail they’ve left behind makes for some clever environmental storytelling. That’s on top of the effects heavy combat and set-pieces, which bring the game alive in a way that no other has quite yet managed to on Xbox. This works hand in hand with the phenomenal character animations and gorgeous in-game cutscenes, which the game effortlessly switches between while maintaining crisp visual fidelity.

The same could be said of the accompanying sound design, which does a great job of capturing the sheer enormity of time collapsing on itself. The sharp pitches of the world grinding to a halt around you are hard to forget, as is the suitably power punch of a rifle’s bullets rippling through air that is essentially standing still.

Quantum Break Review 9

Remedy have maintained their level of attention to detail in every facet of Quantum Break’s design, and it’s an experience they can be proud of. The captivating tale takes a beat or two to really kick in, but when it does it’s hard not to want to keep pressing forward through Quantum Break’s campaign without rest. Every time it feels like Remedy has reached their peak they create another IP of impeccable quality. Quantum Break is just the most recent example of this, and another strong addition to a now plentifully packed Microsoft exclusive library.

 

Last Updated: April 1, 2016

Quantum Break
Quantum Break is another example of Remedy Entertainment sticking to what they know, and doing it better than anyone else. An engrossing adventure with a captivating story. experimentation with new mediums for telling stories in games and refined third-person gameplay to match. Quantum Break isn’t optional, it’s essential.
9.0
Quantum Break was reviewed on Xbox One
77 / 100

42 Comments

  1. 10/10 would skip to the score & conclusion again.

    Reply

    • Admiral Chief in New York

      April 1, 2016 at 09:03

      Hehehe

      Reply

  2. Admiral Chief in New York

    April 1, 2016 at 09:04

    [skips to see score at end]
    Impressive!
    [Goes to read review]

    Reply

    • Admiral Chief in New York

      April 1, 2016 at 09:07

      [notices image on the right hand side of screen….is reminded of Half Life….smiles….continues reading review]

      Reply

      • Admiral Chief in New York

        April 1, 2016 at 09:11

        Nice review Sandy!

        Reply

        • Alessandro Barbosa

          April 1, 2016 at 16:13

          <3

          Reply

    • Pariah

      April 1, 2016 at 09:14

      I’m really glad I’m not the only one who does this.

      Reply

  3. Loftus

    April 1, 2016 at 09:04

    My prediction yesterday was right so…

    Reply

  4. Francois Knoetze

    April 1, 2016 at 09:04

    Pre ordered this yesterday at BT since the xbox store was R300 more expensive. Cant fricken wait for next week!!!

    Reply

  5. Gareth Lagesse (eXCheez)

    April 1, 2016 at 09:06

    Great review! 😀

    Reply

    • Alessandro Barbosa

      April 1, 2016 at 16:13

      Thanks 🙂

      Reply

  6. oVg versus

    April 1, 2016 at 09:10

    Does not matter if the game is 10/10, XBOTS are XBOTS and never support these type of games. I know, I am an Alan Wake and 360 exclusive fanboy. From Lost Odyssey to Alan Wake, expect Quantum Break to sell less than Tomb Raider.

    Sad but true. SO GO OUT AND BUY THIS GAME!!! Even if it does cost TWICE as much as our hobby was 4 years ago.

    Reply

    • Jan Prins

      April 1, 2016 at 09:12

      I cannot but any game.

      Reply

      • oVg versus

        April 1, 2016 at 09:13

        Fixed, besides the West are not allowed Butts. 😛 Too pervy for the gun hoe west. 😛

        Reply

        • Alien Emperor Trevor

          April 1, 2016 at 09:15

          That’s not true. Guns have butts.

          Reply

          • oVg versus

            April 1, 2016 at 09:16

            Butts have guns, Guns have stocks.

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            April 1, 2016 at 09:17

            Therefore guns are an investment.

          • oVg versus

            April 1, 2016 at 09:18

            Said every African leader.

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            April 1, 2016 at 09:19

            Except when they got a return on investment. :/

          • oVg versus

            April 1, 2016 at 09:20

            Of course they did, you can burry an AK47 under sand for 50 years and it will still work. A gun that requires NO discipline, WIN for Africa.

          • Admiral Chief in New York

            April 1, 2016 at 09:28

            Imagine if the AK47 was as reliable as our government, 90% of wars in Africa would never have started

          • oVg versus

            April 1, 2016 at 09:33

            They would have built their mansions with 7.62 bullets. BLING

  7. Geoffrey Tim

    April 1, 2016 at 09:22

    Have played through this twice myself, and I’d personally score it a liiittle lower, but not much. Really, really enjoyed it. Starts off a little slow, but by the end, I thought it was a clever, very old-school sorta game. Will play again.

    Reply

    • Admiral Chief in New York

      April 1, 2016 at 09:29

      So, 8.5 then? Or less?

      The mere fact that you would play it a THIRD time, is a testimony to the quality in my eyes

      Reply

      • Geoffrey Tim

        April 1, 2016 at 09:29

        Yeah, would probably do 8, 8 and a half.

        Reply

        • Admiral Chief in New York

          April 1, 2016 at 09:31

          Would you have rated it lower if it had less replay value?

          Reply

  8. Umar

    April 1, 2016 at 09:28

    Doesn’t the live-action series break up the flow too much? I mean, 30 minutes is pretty long.

    Reply

    • Geoffrey Tim

      April 1, 2016 at 09:29

      For me – and the way I played it, it broke things up perfectly. Play a chapter, watch a show, turn that shit off and so something else. Repeat the next day. 🙂

      Reply

    • Admiral Chief in New York

      April 1, 2016 at 09:30

      “30 minutes is pretty long”
      [inserts joke about Umar’s performance]

      Reply

      • Umar

        April 1, 2016 at 10:10

        More like 30 seconds, ammirite???

        Reply

        • Admiral Chief in New York

          April 1, 2016 at 10:11

          To take pants off?

          Reply

    • Alessandro Barbosa

      April 1, 2016 at 16:16

      Yeah it’s really not as intrusive as it sounds. Keeps the narrative flowing so feels like you’re just watching a long cutscene. Being a fan of Kojima, I’m sure you know what that’s like 😛

      Reply

  9. Sageville

    April 1, 2016 at 10:10

    Very elaborate April’s fools….

    Reply

  10. MakeItLegal

    April 1, 2016 at 10:27

    I just got my xbox one yesterday (paid 4k 2nd hand came with the division and 2 controllers ) this looks great cant wait to play

    i will say this , games are kak expensive , i got titan fall this morning (R200 brand new , or R250 pre played at bt games ) and was looking at gears of war , R500 preplayed and R600 brand new at bt games , they smoking the good stuff no doubt

    Reply

    • Admiral Chief in New York

      April 1, 2016 at 10:30

      Congrats, hope you have many happy hours playing!

      Reply

    • Brian

      April 1, 2016 at 21:23

      Get Gold. Seriously. Just look at this month’s line up. It’s fantastic value for money and you’ll build a solid library of titles before the end of the year.

      Reply

  11. iusedtobe(a)regular

    April 1, 2016 at 12:46

    78 on metacritic is not bad but I expected it to be a little bit higher they way it was hyped up.

    Reply

  12. Raidz19

    April 1, 2016 at 13:07

    hahahaha LITTLE FINGER!

    Reply

  13. Johann

    April 1, 2016 at 15:47

    Looks damn good and one of the reasons I got the Xbox One but damn that price tag…

    Reply

  14. Blackhawk

    April 1, 2016 at 20:03

    Excellent review, Cpt. Barbosa!

    Reply

  15. Francois Knoetze

    April 5, 2016 at 16:41

    Got mah coppah! I mean got my copy

    Reply

  16. Jeandre Pretorius

    April 18, 2016 at 11:40

    Looks like it’s time for a pc upgrade…again!!

    Reply

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