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Quantum Break Review: Remedial Masterpiece

Quantum Break is an excellent game. Yeah, I didn’t want to drag that out. If you’re a PC or an Xbox One owner, this is one of the few games that you absolutely must play. It’s one of those rare times I have felt that any happiness in owning an Xbox One, because no, Ori And The Blind Forest was not enough.

Though it’s also clear that the game is held back visually, and technically on the Xbox One, but more on that later.

The game is refreshing, visually impressive, has a great narrative, and plays fantastically. It’s not without its issues, but none of them keep Remedy’s time-altering-narrative-driven-tv-show-included-filled with-Max-Payne-and-Alan-Wake-references-shooter a blast to play.

(Quantum Break is the Max Payne for this generation of Video Games)

You play the role of Jack Joyce who gets caught in an altercation that leads time, as we know it, to be damaged in an unknown manner. And you spend the rest of the game trying to fix it. Alright, I’m oversimplifying, but saying anything more will lead to spoilers.

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The game is heavily narrative driven, and takes the time to build its plot and characters, so much so that there is an in-game show that unlocks its episodes as you play. The world is filled with e-mails, messages, posters, audio tapes, etc, which all add to the story, and imparts more personality to the characters. The show is incredibly well done. It portrays different sides of the story, specially of the side characters (minions and foot soldiers) who are mostly random pixels in other games.

It does a great job of putting a face on to characters and telling their stories. After watching just the first episode (all episodes can be watched in-game, and unlock after completing certain segments of the game), I was reading e-mails more carefully, since now I knew the people sending and receiving them more intimately, and their intentions and motivations much better.

The game also reflects the consequences of your actions and choices, both minor and major, very cohesively, giving weight and value to the decisions you make. There’s none of that Telltale style pseudo-choice nonsense. Thus playing through the game multiple times is a rewarding experience.

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The game emphasizes on the narrative from the very start. The opening scenes have you, if you choose to, interacting with students protesting the closing of a college library. It’s 4 am. A couple relaxing on a bench tells you where the protest is being held. A young woman further ahead tells you what the protest is about, and asks you if you wish to sign up. Music blares from from the tents where the protesters are camped. Further ahead, a security guard tells you that you’re too late to the protest (well, it is 4 am), and that you should leave post-haste. The many posters and notice boards do a great job of reeling you in, giving you cause to care about the going-ons around you.

Oh, and before I forget, the game is also filled with some really cool, and realistic Alan Wake and Max Payne references, by means of videos running on TV screens, signed book copies, etc.

There is an immense attention to detail in the paraphernalia. Some of the e-mails you come across on computer terminals, smartphones, and tablets, have lengthy chat threads which lay out how some of the characters are where they are, and act they way they do. All of which makes the story a lot more cohesive and believable.

Everything you collect in the game can be easily accessed on a neat timeline with a clean interface. I found myself going back more than once to read an e-mail or listen to an audio file referencing prior events.

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Alright, before I make the entire review about the story (I’m a sucker for a good narrative in Video Games. It’s a rare commodity, really.), lets move on to the gameplay. So that altercation I mentioned earlier equips Jack, the main fella, rather conveniently with some interesting powers, all of which are fun to use. The games constantly keep changing up the combat scenarios, thus pushing you mix up your abilities, and make your way through, instead of the dull old trigger fest.

That’s not to say that the shooting is not fun, because it is immensely fun. The gunplay is tight and explosive, and every encounter feels all the more satisfying because of it. There is a sufficient variety of both weapons and special abilities/powers to keep things interesting throughout the game.

The pacing is very even, doling out story and action in a balanced measure. And after a meaty chunk of playing, an episode pops up, giving you the time to sit back for a bit, before jumping right back it. Its a really great way of keeping the player engaged for a longer duration without tiring him/her out, and i do hope more games see fit to take a similar approach.

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The game looks great, specially while in action. When time stops (a power you can use) or stutters (the problem you’re trying to fix), tons of objects are left suspended in mid air, all of which you can bump into and move around, even dead bodies. There’s a lot of particle effects and physics at work. It’s a neat touch really, though it’s clear that the Xbox One is being taxed heavily because of it.

And that is the main reason why the game runs at 720p, Also the reason why most of the textures are low resolution. this is not to say that the game is not pretty. However, things could have been prettier and smoother if it ran on a better machine. Thus, a PC version of the game might be recommendable. But since that’s not out yet, I can’t comment on what porting issues might be there.

While character animations are great for the most part, there’s a strange blur that shows frequently at the edge of moving characters which is off-putting. While motion blur is an appreciated part of the visuals, as time stops or you speed up, the weird blur that I am referring to is certainly not. I can’t say whether this will be there in the PC version or not, since the game has the potential to look a lot better and play a lot smoother.


I know that it’s rude to kick a fallen dog, but a game this good should not have been primarily an Xbox One game. It is clear that the game suffers because of it, and with the AAA Video Game market flooded with utter shite lately ( lead shamelessly by Ubisoft, EA and Activision), we really are in need of great AAA titles. Quantum Break is one, regardless of some technical issues.

The movement is also a bit wonky and slow, similar to games like GTA V and Mad Max. Although this doesn’t really hamper the action, a more fluid motion mechanics similar to Metal Gear Solid V or Bloodborne would have been much appreciated.

Also the load times are a bit lengthy, and that gets annoying. Plus the episodes have to be streamed, which can be a pain. You could however download the episodes if you’re playing on the Xbox One.

The game does have a nifty feature which I wanted to give a shout to. You can turn of any copyrighted music playing in the game, thus avoiding any flagging while streaming your gameplay online.

Verdict: Quantum Break is a game you absolutely must play. Its one of the best games of this generation. Excellent story telling, compelling narrative, and explosive action will keep you hooked from start till end. And a genuinely weighty choice-and-consequence system make the game worth playing multiple times. Remedy has put in a lot of effort in making an incredibly wonderful game, and I hope they are showered with money for it.

And for more news and reviews, keep checking back at Gaming Central.

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