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Quantum Break Review

Quantum Break has been four years in the making and judging from the relieved looks of some of the developers I spoke to at a recent event, it most likely been a long four years at that. When the game was first announced, the Xbox One was just making its way into the world, at which time Microsoft and the console itself had a strong focus on TV. I mention this because it feels like Quantum Break is very much still part of that world, given that it features four 22 minute TV episodes at the end of each of the first four acts. It’s a strange and some may say risky strategy and to be honest it’s likely that many people will have mixed feelings about whether it was a success or not. Saying that though, if developers never tried anything new then the world of gaming would be a very boring place.

Given that Quantum Break is part video game and part live action TV show, it’ll likely not appeal to everyone, but on the bright side, it does have a decent cast with Game of Thrones’ star Aidan Gillen playing as anti-hero Paul Serene, who seems hell bent on manipulating time to his own means and that of the Monarch Corporation of which he is part. On the flip side, protagonist Jack Joyce is played well by Shawn Ashmore and his brother, William, played by Dominic Monaghan, whom you may recognise from Lost. While I don’t want to focus too much on the TV Show parts of Quantum Break due to spoilers, I will say that they seem to be filmed in very high quality, although this comes at a price, since you need to stream these episodes, and for me at least this meant a whole load of buffering. There is the option to download the shows of course, but this comes in at around 70GB + of used HDD space according to xbox.com.

Before getting to any of the TV shows, you’ll need to work your way through the first act, which in all honesty is a bit of a slow starter. Here you’ll be introduced to Jack Joyce and also Paul Serene as they go about messing with a time machine. It’s not really clear what they intend to do at first, but it’s fair to say that things go spectacularly wrong, which results in both Jack and his brother Will, who turns up halfway through the experiment, having to escape the lab and the clutches of the Monarch Corporation, who for reasons I won’t mention, want to get hold of Will.

Given that Quantum Break has quite a heavy focus on story, I won’t mention anything further in this respect, as it’ll likely spoil the experience for most people. Instead it’s best to focus on the action, or what there is of it, because sadly Quantum Break is quite a short lived experience. It’s a shame really because what there is of the time bending action is pretty impressive, it’s just a pity that it seems to make way for cutscenes and TV shows more often than not.

Stepping back in time a little to just before escaping the lab in Act 1, this is roughly when you’ll begin to understand and learn all about Jack’s powers. Whereas before he was just an ordinary guy, due to the experiment gone wrong, suddenly he finds himself with the ability to mess with time. This results in some interesting combat mechanics as you throw up time shields to regain health and block bullets; time dodge, which sees Jack speed away from quick fire attacks and also throw time attacks, which freeze enemies in the air or leave them at a standstill, allowing you to take them down before they leave Jack for dead. As the game evolves into Act’s 2 & 3, Jack’s powers grow stronger, introducing new time powers or at least evolved versions of what he already has, making for even more interesting combat.

Even when not using the time powers, Quantum Break can be fun at times. On occasion there will be areas which have a block which stop you using Jack's powers, however some enemies can still manipulate time, allowing them to time dodge around you, meaning that you’ll have to keep on your toes as to their whereabouts. Then there’s the tough guys who seem to be armoured up to the hilt and are complimented with a powerful shotgun, forcing you to think fast to take them down. There aren’t too many different enemy types, probably around five or six, however they seem intelligent enough to flank you and cause problems should you not be concentrating fully. As with most action games you will need to make sure that your ammo is fully stocked at all times and if not you’ll need to restock or at least grab one of the many weapons that are lying around for you to make use of.

Time powers aren’t only used for combat, as the game does throw in some puzzles to keep your busy, although they are hardly taxing and mainly involve shooting something down or rewinding time in order to cross over gaps. You are also able to pick up many narrative items which apparently change the story during the TV shows, although given that the ending is always the same and that the story is hardly gripping, it does feel like there is little motivation to play through more than once, unless of course, unlike me, you find the TV Shows interesting to watch.

In between the action and TV Shows you’ll be introduced to Junction Points, where you’ll play as Paul Serene and will have to make a decision which will then result in the arrival of the TV episode based on your decision. With five acts in all, this means you’ll be taking part in four junction points and watching four 22 minute TV Shows and with each act on average lasting around 1-11/2 hours on average, not including the TV Shows, it’s fair to say that Quantum Break doesn’t really provide a very fully fleshed out in-game action experience, especially if you skip over the TV Shows and the cutscenes, which is an option.

Being a big fan of Remedy titles such as Alan Wake, I have to admit to being pretty underwhelmed with Quantum Break. After all this time I was expecting something outstanding which would stay in my memory until the next title from the studio arrived on my doorstep. As it is, Quantum Break, while spectacular and very impressive to look at in parts, is a rather disappointing and short-lived experience, especially if all you really wanted out of it was to bend time and blow people up.

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Review by: 

Joe Anderson (Twitter: @_wotta | PSN/XBLA: wotta)

(Version Tested: Xbox One)


+ Looks great
+ The action is fun
+ Interesting time mechanic


- Some glitches
- There is not enough action
- The story is hit and miss

Edited On 01 Apr, 2016

( 1 )
Anonymous user's avatar
Rupert 7 months ago
is it true we (UK) no longer get alan wakes American nightmare as a bonus? i can't seem to access code from my shopto account!

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