Quantum Break is a game about choices – the debate over whether the future is fixed, or changes based on our actions. It’s the classic time-travel dilemma, with an awesome new spin. Quantum Break is doing something no game has ever tried before: It operates as both a video game and an in-game digital live-action show, not in separate channels, but in one complete package. And the show changes based on how you play the game.
In Quantum Break, everything is about time. A time machine experiment leads to the murder of one of the inventors, William Joyce (played by “Lord of the Rings” star Dominic Monaghan), the brother of main character Jack Joyce (played by “X-Men” mainstay Shawn Ashmore). Jack has to stop his brother’s murderer – and megacorporation Monarch Solutions leader – Paul Serene (played by ominously-awesome “Game of Thrones” star Aidan Gillen).
Due to his proximity to the experiment Jack has numerous time-based powers at his disposal. He can speed himself up to dash or dodge, and avoid obstacles. Or he can create shields, or stop time within a localized space in order to take out enemies. The different skills come in handy, in both the game’s platforming and combat settings. In our recent gamescom 2015 demo, Jack had to navigate out of a collapsing shipyard that was caught in a time stutter. Time itself kept moving forward and backward, causing sea trains and ship parts to crash to the ground in and endless loop. Using his time-dash move and some careful timing (get it?!), Jack was able to zip through the obstacles and make his way to safety… only to find Monarch militia waiting for him.
Some of the Monarch guys have special suits that allow them to act normally in the time stutter areas. Quantum Break developer Remedy Entertainment showed off how Jack can damage their suits and cause them to get trapped in the wobbling timeline; it’s a sweet alternative to shooting the bad guys up, though you can do plenty of that, too. The time powers look like a heck of a lot of fun – equal parts flash and usefulness.
Remedy Entertainment is perhaps best known for the Max Payne series (and the phenomenal Alan Wake), so they know a thing or two about slowing down time in gunfights. Quantum Break feels similar to that, and yet totally different. In other games that use bullet time, everything slows down… but in Quantum Break, Jack is usually moving a lot faster, zipping around like a speedster superhero to attack enemies before they can even react.
What makes Quantum Break extra-unique is the live-action show embedded into the game itself. There are five chapters in Quantum Break, and between each of them is an episode of the show. While the game focuses on Jack’s point-of-view, the shows are more from the villainous Paul Serene’s side and his second in command Martin Hatch (played by “The Wire” actor Lance Reddick). Choices you make in the game affect the show, which in turn affect the game again. Each episode has branching junction moments that alter the plot.
Even cooler: Some of the scenes are crossover scenes with the game itself. You might watch a scene of the show, then play the same scene as Jack, adding context to everything. This isn’t just a bunch of live-action cut-scenes; it’s a whole additional interactive episodic experience on top of the game.
Quantum Break brings a new twist to time-travel stories, both aesthetically and plot-wise. We’re hooked on the story already, not to mention the awesome cast. But on top of that, the gunfights and timey-wimey environment maneuvering adds an extra level of coolness to the whole thing. We wish that we had a time machine, to jump to April 5, 2016 when the game launches exclusively on Xbox One… but we’ll have to be patient for now.