Quantum Break – time-bending transmedia
I’ve always been a fan of Remedy’s always odd, always interesting action games. Xbox One exclusive Quantum Break has always seemed intriguing. If there’s any game that could make me seriously contemplate getting an Xbox One, this would be it. After a rather intimate session with developer Remedy at Gamescom, I’m closer to being convinced that I need to play this game.
It’s centered around Jack Joyce, witness to a time-travel-related science experiment that goes horribly wrong at Riverport University. It’s gone so wrong that time itself has been broken, It’s splintered and fractured. It’s quite literally running out. Time freezes and resumes of its own volition; a crisis the general populace is unaware of as for them everything runs as normal. His proximity to the accident grants him rather special powers, allowing him to manipulate these temporal anomalies.
Where Remedy usually focuses on its narrative when presenting these sorts of games, this time the wanted to show more of its action gameplay. The demo we were treated to was the very same one shown in the gameplay reveal during Microsoft’s press conference – though extended a little to show a fair bit more of how the fractures in time need to be meddled with and manipulated. Jack can also fire off little concentrated blasts, affecting time within their area of effect, using them to slow down or stun enemies for long enough to take them down, to act as diversion as he confuses his enemies. It all plays out like an intricate, temporal game of cat and mouse.
Stutters in time, which are uncontrollable rifts in the fabric freeze everything in place, but Jack is able to move about during this disruptions, able to bring select items and people out of zero state. Technology exists that allows other, heavily armoured bad guys to do the same, creating interesting combat options and opportunities. There’s quite a bit more to the game than just being a cover shooter with time mechanics though – it also requires interesting and clever use of the time-bending shenanigans for puzzle solving, and even platforming.
The bad guy in all of this is the Monarch Corporation, the very company that caused time to shatter in the first place. We don’t quite know the company’s motivations, but that’s something we’ll certainly find out more of, as they’re what the game’s transmedia live-action bits focus on. Confused by just how that was going to all work, I asked Remedy to explain the live action show a little more.
They told me that it would be focused on Monarch, and tell the bad guys’ side of the story, delivering exposition. The live action bits – which are all included on the same disc as the game – are optional, and play out as your own director’s cut of the action. Choices you make in the game will affect the video you’ll see, while choices from the videos will directly affect gameplay. It’s not some insane spider-web of choices, but everybody will experience Quantum Break a little differently.
Me? I just want to make sure I experience Quantum Break. If you’re a fan of the company’s games; things like Max Payne and Alan Wake, you’ll probably be instantly drawn to Quantum Break – and for good reason. Beyond its interesting mechanics and very probably amazing story, it’s one of the best looking games I’ve seen for either of the new consoles, though that’s more a testament to Remedy than it is to the platform holder’s hardware. If you’ve been looking for even thee slightest excuse to justify an Xbox One, this is it.