By Kyle Holmer. This is LOAD FILE, where we understand that a handful of B-List Celebrities will not save your game. This week Kyle inches ever closer to THE END OF TIME in ‘Quantum Break’, developed by Remedy Entertainment and Published by Microsoft for the Xbox One and Personal Computer.


If I’m being honest, I was never really rooting for Quantum Break. Unlike many out there, I don’t have a deep affection for Remedy Entertainment; I preferred Max Payne 3 to its predecessors and I never touched Alan Wake. While I can appreciate that the company is always looking for new ways to push the medium forward, the idea of introducing a live action television show into a video game narrative just seems like a move in the wrong direction; video games are interesting enough that they needn’t be dependent on other forms of media to get their point across. That and when the game was introduced, it was announced alongside an Xbox media division that quickly folded; the idea of a game/tv show hybrid seemed to be nothing more than a holdover from a failed business venture.

Regardless, here we are. I’ve played the game (twice actually), and while admittedly it exceeded my low expectations, I can definitively say this is not the right direction for video games, as a medium or anything else.



Like most Remedy products, Quantum Break is a story-first video game. Players take on the role of Jack Joyce (Shawn Ashmore, Iceman of X-Men fame), a twenty-something drifter wandering the globe after a horrible car accident killed his parents and strained his relationship with his immediate next of kin. While away, Jack’s brother Will and his childhood friend Paul Serene (played by Mr. Littlefinger himself, Aidan Gillen) decided to dabble with some extremely dangerous time travel technology (like you do), and at the outset of the game, Jack’s been called home by Paul to help him save his experiment. It’s all a pretty convoluted setup, but basically what really matters is Paul has a time machine and he needs Jack’s help to activate it. Of course, upon activation, everything goes horribly wrong, leading to a “fracture in time” that will eventually lead to (and I’m being completely serious when I write this) “the end of time.” (I know.)

What follows is a pretty straightforward time travel story: Jack attempts to prevent this initial collapse while Paul (or an older version of Paul) views the collapse as inevitable, and the story follows the two characters as they attempt to prevent the end of the world in their own unique ways. You’ll play the majority of the game as Jack (all of the moment-to-moment gameplay), but at a few key moments you’ll be given control of Paul Serene as he decides how to handle a specific decision that will theoretically have major implications throughout the rest of the narrative. Immediately following these choices you’ll be able to watch the Quantum Break TV show, where you’re able to see how these choices play out. More specifically, the show follows a handful of characters that have very little to do with the core narrative, and depending on the choices they’ll be occasionally injected into the actual game’s story.

Again, it’s pretty complicated; both the mechanics and beats of the story have a lot of moving parts. Remedy is pretty smart in how they choose to handle the time travel (that there is no “Butterfly Effect” by traveling into the past; everything has happened exactly as it has always happened) which makes it the story easy to follow, but ultimately it’s all fairly uneventful. The television show, as mentioned, has very little impact on Jack’s story, and as for Paul’s decisions? They’ll play out similarly regardless of the choice you end up making. That’s not to say the story is particularly bad, both the presentation and acting is quite good (and there’s enough going on to keep you consistently engaged), but all of the stuff around it (the decisions and TV show in particular) are pretty damned hollow.



When you aren’t sitting through the television show or the cutscenes (re:when you’re actually playing a game), Quantum Break serves as a pretty ordinary third-person shooter. The additional ripple is that Jack has been given, as a result of events in the story, some supernatural “time powers.” You’ll be able to freeze enemies, create a time shield around yourself, dash/run through time, and you even have the inexplicable ability to explode enemies with some sort of time bomb. The powers are… in a word, they’re ridiculous, and ultimately they don’t make a lot of sense within the context of the story.

However, the moment-to-moment gunplay is actually quite fun. The cover system is automatic (which can be a headache at the beginning of the game) but once you’ve been given access to the full roster of powers, you’ll be zipping around the map pretty effortlessly. The game would be a lot better if you were able to combine the powers in more meaningful ways, but as it stands it’s still a reasonably entertaining game. While the powers are absurd (and make no mistake, they are), combining the gunplay with your time abilities both looks and feels fantastic; you’ll encounter some genuine moments of badassery, but those moments will be few and far between. There’s an unbelievable amount of story sequences throughout the game (many of which have you wandering hallways while listening to someone talk), and in total the actual gameplay takes up about 25% of the overall package.



Quantum Break is a classic example of a developer setting a bar just out of its own reach. While I don’t necessarily enjoy the premise, the idea of combining multiple mediums into one discrete package is admittedly very ambitious. There are unquestionably some amazing moments in this game; the ways in which the “time fracture” effect the gameplay both looks and feels incredible, but at a certain point it grows tedious. As I mentioned, the majority of the game is story-focused and because the gunplay and platforming take a backseat to the narrative, by the end of the game I was tired of both.

The story of Quantum Break isn’t all that compelling and the mechanics aren’t meaty enough to carry you through the entire 8-12 hours of gameplay. That being said, it’s still worth experiencing. It’s easy to fault Remedy for shooting a little too high, but companies should always be applauded for something new. Hopefully next time that ambition will be a little more fun.

Developed by Remedy Entertainment.

Published by Microsoft Studios.

Directed by  Sam Lake and Mikael Kasurinen.

Written by Tyler Burton Smith and Mikko Rautalahti.

Platforms: Microsoft Windows and Xbox One.

6.5 out of 10