When Quantum Break was first revealed back in May 2013, it was set to hit the market the following year. Since then, though, developers Remedy Entertainment has delayed it twice, allowing their team the time they need to get the game as they want it.
As frustrating as this is for those of us eager to try it, Quantum Break is shaping up to be a fascinating title that may well revolutionize storytelling techniques in the gaming industry.
The reveal trailer featured time-bending visuals and an ominous tone, whetting appetites for something really special – and with good reason considering the developers’ pedigree. Remedy Entertainment has become known for high quality with Max Payne and Alan Wake, two acclaimed hits boasting unique storytelling and innovative gameplay mechanics.
From what we’ve seen so far, Quantum Break looks set to continue Remedy’s trend for invention, and promises lots to be excited for.
What can we look forward to, and why?
A Bold New Narrative Style
Quantum Break tells its tale in an adventurous new way. Taking inspiration from the power of television in today’s entertainment industry, Remedy inter-cuts the gameplay itself with episodic live-action sections. Starring such well-known actors as Shawn Ashmore (Iceman in the X-Men movies), Dominic Monaghan (Charlie from Lost; Merry from The Lord of the Rings films), Aiden Gillen (Littlefinger in Game of Thrones) and more, these parts help to give the entire experience a more epic feel.
The actors have been motion-captured for the in-game visuals too, so when you play as hero Jack Joyce, you’re really playing as Ashmore. It’s a cool twist that makes you feel as if you’re actually controlling a piece of big-budget entertainment.
Innovative Time-Bending Physics
Powers like telekinesis and super-speed have featured in plenty of games before (think Psi-Ops, for starters), but Quantum Break gives them a temporal spin.
Joyce inherits bizarre time-bending abilities in the faulty experiment at the heart of the story, and can use these when on the offensive and defensive. Several skills are developed during the game, including: Time Vision (shows what happened in a particular spot earlier); Time Dodge (evade attacks in a super-fast movement); Time Stutter (stop time altogether); Time Shield (hide inside a temporal bubble).
These all help you to feel almost god-like as you take down enemies with a combination of superhuman abilities and kick-ass firepower.
A Deeper Storyline than We May Be Used To
While storytelling in video games has changed dramatically in recent years, as developers embrace deeper plots and richer characters, too many titles still give us the same gung-ho soldiers and grungy futures. These work brilliantly in some games, but can become stale after a while when you feel you’ve seen it all before.
Quantum Break, though, features an original plot revolving around time, reality, and the consequences of trying to play god. It’s a complex subject, so Remedy has consulted a scientist with experience at CERN (home of the Large Hadron Collider) to ensure authenticity and accuracy.
The game’s villain, Paul Serene, looks set to be a more nuanced and sympathetic character than some action games usually deliver. At the start of the story, he’s actually friends with Jack, but after he’s given a glimpse of the future he decides time itself needs to actually end. Joyce, of course, disagrees strongly enough to start wasting bad guys left, right, and centre.
A Chance to Affect the Plot by Making Choices as the Villain
The four 22-minute episodes Remedy has integrated into the game are more than just a gimmick – they actually show the story from Serene’s angle and allow players to make decisions for him.
Before each episode, Serene’s ability to see the future gives him the power to select from two possible paths. Each of these will have a different effect on future gameplay, either making Joyce’s mission easier or harder. These choices also present players with moral quandaries, as they decide the fate of others and try to figure out how certain options could help the greater good.
With some games only showing us the antagonist in tiny segments, with little reason to see from their point of view, Quantum Break should be a breath of fresh air.
Destructible Environments for Visceral Action Sequences
Quantum Break’s action blends cover-based shooting and temporal powers, with environments offering plenty of structures to hide behind when under fire. This will be familiar to most gamers, with elements of Gears of War and others inspiring the fluid transitions from one protective object to another.
As environments are destructible as well, the action has an incredibly visceral and realistic feel. As Jack and Serene’s armies (who are later equipped with their own time-bending equipment) battle it out, locations bear the effects of ferocious fights, helping to make the world feel all the more real. Not enough games feature destructible areas, and while it might seem like a minor factor, it makes all the difference to the feel of the virtual environments layers spend so much time in.
With Quantum Break, Remedy has a real chance to create something special, giving gamers an entirely new type of experience. It could even revolutionize the way in which video games are structured and the variety of narrative techniques developers employ. Let’s hope it lives up to its promise!
What makes you most excited to play Quantum Break? Let us know!