Quantum Break has been one of the most mysterious Xbox One games yet. Gamers (including yours truly) the world over have been dying to find out more about developer Remedy Entertainment’s follow-up to Alan Wake, especially regarding what the gameplay would be like. At gamescom 2014, the developer behind Max Payne’s groundbreaking bullet time and Alan Wake’s remarkably balanced light/dark mechanic finally gave us a taste of what we’ve been waiting for, and it’s clear that Quantum Break will be another Remedy title that perfectly combines a compelling narrative with intense action.
But before we get into the action, let’s review the story so far. You are Jack Joyce, a man caught in the blast of a university’s failed time travel experiment who gains the power to manipulate time. Given that the explosion has also started to break down the fabric of time itself, this ability comes in more than a little handy. Quantum Break follows Jack as he fights to keep time from unraveling. Fighting whom, you ask? All we know so far is that a corporation called Monarch Solutions is opposing his efforts, which seems like a bad idea given his efforts are to save our very existence. While Remedy is also working on a TV show that will meld with the game to create a singular experience, the focus for gamescom was clearly on showing off the gameplay.
The behind closed doors demo of Quantum Break began much like the stage demo at the Xbox briefing (you can check that out above). Jack makes his way out of a room and onto a fire escape, where’s he greeted with a temporarily time-stopping flash of light that freezes a helicopter in mid-air. When time begins moving again, it’s clear that something is amiss, as Monarch has set up roadblocks despite the public’s protestations. When Jack gets down to ground level, he’s greeted by armed corporate stooges out for his blood.
This is where the demo got really exciting, as we were finally given a look at Jack’s awesome time-amplified powers. Gun drawn, Jack encased the closest thug in a shimmering sphere that froze him in his tracks. A few quick pistol blasts at the paralyzed enemy took him down in a blur, and before his friends could even turn around, Jack had briefly slowed time to change position. With his foes looking at where he had been instead of where he was, he was able to drop one of them with a few tightly controlled shots before dashing around to another position. To finish off the final baddie, Jack did the time-stopping dash toward him and finished him off with an up-close-and-personal melee attack.
Moving on to the next area, Jack was confronted with a larger group of enemies. Dashing around and surprising enemies looks like a ton of fun, as does the gunplay. This is definitely an action game through and through, as evidenced by a sequence in which our hero charged up his time-stopping bubble to make it larger, then fired a few shots into a handy propane tank frozen alongside an enemy. The resulting explosion was shown from an alternate angle that really highlighted Quantum Break’s cinematic sensibilities.
After clearing all of the enemies from the area under a large bridge, Jack made his way up the side of it. Suddenly, a tractor trailer truck came barreling over the guardrail, stopping in mid-air thanks to a powerful time stutter that froze both it and all of the action unfolding on the bridge. Taking some time to examine the scene, Jack sees protestors who’ve been gunned down by Monarch forces, with the perpetrators still in the act of firing. The oddly tranquil peace of the frozen scene is shattered by a hulking juggernaut in a heavy-duty exoskeleton that hurls a car at Jack.