Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Remedy Entertainment
Release Date: 04/05/2016
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Remedy Entertainment is one of my favorite developers. You may know them from little games like Max Payne and Alan Wake. These were both fantastic third-person shooters with great characters and an interesting story. It’s been a while since we have seen anything from them, and Quantum Break was quite ambitious with big-name actors, live-action cutscenes, and just an overall large budget.
The game starts off with you playing Jack Joyce who is the brother of William Joyce, who gets stuck in a fight against Monarch Solutions to save the universe. Sounds pretty cliche, but the time-bending gameplay and story have some merits. Paul Serene, the antagonist of the game, steals a time travel device from William Joyce and uses it for profit. The game does this whole start at the end, then work your way back to the beginning sort of story and filling in gaps on the way. I really wanted to like the story here as the acting is top-notch and the live-action cut scenes are fantastic, but it’s so convoluted and there are so many things that aren’t explored.
One such thing is the end of time. It’s referenced frequently that the end of time is caused by the fracture from the time machine, but we never see it. Seeing the end of time would have been fascinating if just for a little while. On top of this, the 5 different choices you make in the story don’t affect the outcome of the story which makes it feel pointless. After each chapter, there is a junction in which you play as Paul and have to make a choice. Then you get a 15-minute live-action cutscene which is the best part of the entire game.
The gameplay itself has time-stopping and bending abilities with Jack Time Rushing enemies to fly by them, using Time Blasts for AOE effects, shields, and various other abilities. You will use them all throughout the game but it feels forced. The guns feel fun to shoot, but it’s all so generic and boring. The same four enemies repeat, and to make you use your powers they throw in enemies that are immune to your powers and ones that you need to use your powers to get past their armor. They don’t show up often, but when it does it slows down the gameplay and makes it drag.
I did use different weapons for different situations, but I had no choice as the game can be so difficult at times you need to use these weapons or powers by default and not by choice. You can upgrade your powers to make them more useful, but they require hidden upgrade points which are really hard to find (I only found 5 through my whole playthrough) so it defeats the purpose of having an upgrade system if the points to use it are hidden. The action and storytelling are also poorly paced with entire chapters of just pressing buttons, walking around, and climbing things. Then you would get an hour of non-stop shooting. Then the final boss took me 3 hours to beat as it’s so incredibly difficult and requires you to use all your powers beyond what the game will allow. You can only turn so fast, move so quickly, and shoot so much with Time Bombs going off behind you and enemies zipping around shooting you. It’s overwhelming and clearly breaks the system set in place.
I really wanted to love this game, but it’s entertaining at best and very forgettable. The game looks fantastic with amazing character models and animations, but the PC version suffers severe performance issues as it’s poorly optimized. The art style, however, is rather dull with nothing but sterile gray hallways, generic buildings, and nothing that really stands out. Outside of the Nissan and Microsoft product placements and the yellow accenting throughout the entire game.
Remedy really could have done more here, but most people will find it either too boring or too hard to care much. It’s an entertaining weekend playthrough but nothing more.