Remedy Entertainment is known for its ability to tell an engagingly deep video game narrative steeped in mystery and intrigue, and this is clearly evident in its soon-to-be released Quantum Break for the Xbox One and Windows 10.
After playing through the full game in preparation for our review I can’t help but be mesmerized by its engrossing narrative, which unfolds unlike any video game before it. This is due to a plethora of reasons, such as the fact that Remedy incorporated a full on live action TV show into the game, but also because of Quantum Break’s excellent story that unfolds through a mix of gameplay, the live action show, and narrative object pickups scattered throughout the game world. The combination of these different plot delivery vehicles keeps you thoroughly entertained and ingrained with the game’s world and characters, all of which are brought to life by top Hollywood talent and video game magic.
The gameplay is nothing to shake a stick at, as it is quite fast and frenetic once you are fully decked out with Jack Joyce’s time bending abilities, but for me the gameplay segments merely served as another opportunity to progress the highly addicting time travel plot that drives the narrative from start to finish. Like most other time travel plots it’s almost impossible not to keep pushing through the game to find out another piece of the puzzle, which always provides a satisfying “Ah-Ha” moment in your brain as you begin to piece the events from various timelines together.
I personally love a solid and scientific time travel story, and Quantum Break’s is one of the best I’ve experienced thanks to the delivery. Rather than sticking to a traditional video game narrative that is told mainly through cutscenes, Quantum Break mixes one part action oriented gameplay, one part branching path choice based gameplay, and then the live action episode end cap to wrap up a particular Act’s thread. Each of these methods are told through different points of view too, which again provides for a much more over encompassing telling of all angles.
You get the main character’s point of view (Jack Joyce) through the action oriented gameplay, which is also where you can explore the world for narrative objects to further flesh out the plot. I highly recommend doing so, because they don’t just feel like cheap pickups, or random readings that don’t add to the overall story. These items provide all sorts of insights into the science of time travel, and also expose the lesser known plot points to give you the greatest grasp of the mind bending story that you can hope to get. They all feel natural and part of the narrative, so not once did I feel like I was taken out of the game world by reading an email from one important character to another. At times I found myself spending upwards of 15-20 minutes reading and processing these narrative objects, which is a practice I never do in other games when they offer similar pickups. That’s how engrossed I became with the world and characters of Quantum Break, you truly do feel like you’re interacting with the narrative in a natural way, which is a very refreshing experience in this particular era of game design.
The branching path gameplay on the other hand allows you to experience the world through the eyes of the Big Bad, which again helps to paint a deeper picture of what is actually going on. These sections also feature narrative objects, but their main contribution to the game is giving you two clear paths to drive the narrative down. Depending on which option you choose will in turn alter how the game and live action shows play out. This offers a replayability factor and begs you to play the game at least twice to see how these choices can alter the narrative in a similar fashion to how the character’s choices in the game affect the various timelines you experience. Also, because the story is centered around time travel, it’s well worth going through it again to spot certain moments in the game that may not have made sense the first time around, but now have a whole new meaning after you’ve lived through it once. Time travel is awesome isn’t it?
The final narrative delivery vehicle for a Quantum Break Act is the live action show, which takes place after you make the choice discussed above. The live action show is on par with today’s CW comic book shows, so it’s no slouch, and clearly not a tacked on gimmick. The talent Remedy secured is deep, and you will surely recognize more than a few famous faces during these segments. The acting is pretty solid, but again the main draw is finding out where the plot is headed next.
Quantum Break is as close as I’ve seen a video game becoming an interactive movie, which is due to Remedy’s decision to unfold the narrative using different mediums. Again though, it’s the story itself that will keep you pushing through the relatively clear time travel plot, so while the game offers solid and enjoyable gameplay, its biggest draw and selling point in my opinion is experiencing the deep tale that Remedy wove throughout its five Acts.
Our full review will go live April 1st, so stay tuned for my final impressions.
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