Time travel: we want it, we say we need it and we believe we understand it. These are the main focus points of Quantum Break, Now I spent a good while playing this and I do really enjoy it, although it gives me the sense of watching a British time travel drama. It makes me wonder if there’s some sort of Doctor Who reference or T.A.R.D.I.S. easter egg somewhere…but it’s greatly lacking there.
Even the overall design of the city and town is based on British cities. When it comes to actual game-play though, I found it very enjoyable to explore the levels until I was forced into a story-progression mode. All bits of exploration became disabled and I fought my way through in glorious third-person shooter mode.
I should mention that you cannot backtrack if you are currently playing through an Act. However you can re-load those chapters from the title screen if you miss collectibles, so it’s possible to go back and play through previous stages again.
Now an issue I have with the game’s collectibles and story is: “I have to read!” I know in the past, games like Final Fantasy made reading a crucial aspect. But in a first-person action-based shooter about time travel, I want to do as little reading as possible.
As you play through the game, the collectibles and items help add depth. But I frankly don’t want to go through a few novels’ worth of text to get a more in-depth plot. I want to hear the story. I want to see the interaction from the characters and really don’t want to pick up a newspaper explaining the finer details.
Apart from all the reading, the game-play is amazing and I do love the concept of time manipulation in combat. Freezing time to save allies from getting shot, and using it to take the guns off your adversaries is a great feature. I also do love the basic name approach they took for the weapons, calling them simply “Heavy Pistol”, “Heavy Shotgun” and “Assault Rifle”.
I do have to note that since there are so many options with time control in the game, for me it gets a little convoluted and I have issues understanding what to do (apart from take the gun and shoot the guy shooting at me).
I also was not a big fan of the 30-second loading screen, although that’s rectified if you exchange your hard disk drive (HDD) in your Xbox with a faster model. But I think the most interesting aspect of the game is that at the end of Act 1 you don’t play as the protagonist, but rather as the Antagonist. You play as the villain and must make a choice as to what to do. Afterwards you are treated to a live-action episode, seamlessly blending the fantasy world they are creating into an actual television drama.
Like most story games, your actions will determine what happens. But this also means that they spent a god-awful long time recording, based on each potential outcome. There are five acts in all, each potentially having two episodes; totaling enough for an entire season of live-action drama.
Now just because Microsoft is doing something completely new, it doesn’t mean it’s good. Although most of the issues I have with the game are minute (e.g.: the reading for extra story), others are simply just plot holes that involve time manipulation. I feel that presenting this game in an episodic fashion is honestly not the best course of action. I want to feel the game’s aspects blend together seamlessly, and just how they go about handling everything doesn’t really give the experience I was looking forward to.
I really don’t know how I should feel about this game. Is it an action-shooter or a story-based game with guns and shoot-outs? It feels very confusing and gets even more so when I watch the live-action episodes.
In conclusion, the game-play is good and doesn’t have enough issues for me not to recommend it. The story is alright (minus the few inconsistencies), But overall it leaves me with a lasting impression. I say again that it has the strong British television drama thing going on. Perhaps Microsoft is interested in expanding into television?