Quantum Break – You Got Time?

Decided to replay one of my favorite, semi-recent AAA-gaming releases – because the last time I played it, the engine the game runs on almost broke my old computer. Now, I’m on a new fresh one – so I thought it was time to play through this science-fiction time-travel epic in full graphical glory, and maximized FPS.

Let us continue on that note. The visuals, all these years later, are still absolutely fantastic beyond just having high-quality textures. With that I mean, lighting, location design, structures, and models, in general, make the game come alive. It just looks great, and realistic, yet, has this slight futuristic corporate vibe to it that is common in near-future settings – a bit similar to the modern Deus Ex games. Unfortunately, even now when I have “up-scaling” turned off, some areas are still looking blurry, which is disappointing. Otherwise, the game runs well on my new rig, but, unfortunately, I get drastic FPS drop in scene-transfers, and when cut-scenes change to gameplay. I don’t know why that is. It’s not too bad I guess, but still an annoyance since it happens fairly often. I assume it’s an issue with the engine, because CONTROL, a more recently released Remedy game, shares the same engine, and I didn’t have these kinds of issues here. The only thing I can assume from this is that the engine got better optimized between the games. Nonetheless, the game looks remarkable still, and will not disappoint on a modern computer with a good GPU.

What makes this game feel special, besides having a great atmosphere from the graphics alone, is the story. It’s no Asimov, it got this weird, enjoyable Remedy flavor to it. It’s all based around time travel and the end of the world. Yes, it sounds outrageously dramatic, but it actually feels fairly grounded throughout, as you will discover. The game starts with you (Jack Joyce) coming back to your hometown to help out your now-rich “scientist” friend. The game starts rather slow, lulling you into this world – however, as soon as you arrive at the university, you sense that something strange is going on. There is a certain atmosphere at the beginning of the game that gets me every time. The late night, the bittersweet nostalgic feeling of coming home – for some reason it hits all the notes for me, and I love walking around on the university campus just soaking everything in before the true adventure begins.

Eye of Sauron, anyone?

As you can guess after you meet your friend, things don’t go as expected, and eventually, your actions cascade into a full-scale end-of-the-world -scenario. Things you do during gameplay, and choices you make – binary as they are, will affect the storyline in pretty drastic ways. What also needs to be added is that half the experience of this game is the so-called live-action movie episodes. When I first played the game, I thought I wouldn’t like it much, yet, as it turned out, they are great, well-shot, and well-acted. Their characters remain the same, going from gameplay to movie-format, which makes it all so much more believable. It’s a unique experience that I haven’t seen in any other game.

Paul Serene. You might recognize the actor

The characters in the game, with you, the protagonist included, are good, but, if I have to be negative, the main character is probably the weakest of the bunch. I’m not saying he is bad in any way – it’s just that the other ones outshine him, especially the main antagonist Paul Serene, and his hatchet man Martin Hatch. What makes them significant is that they are not one-note evil, which usually is the case in the gaming world.

What also makes the world, and narrative so interesting beyond the presented story, is that there is an incredible amount of extra stuff for you to find in the game scattered all over the place. This is nothing new, or unique per se, but almost all the stuff you can find is connected to the overarching narrative, and it makes it really fun to go on “lore”-hunts. There are also recorded diaries to unlock, which increases the investment in the world even more. This of course only works if you find the setting intriguing from the start, but if you do, you are in for a treat!

Gameplay-wise, it is very Remedy, but instead of bullet-time slowdown like from the Max Payne days, you can now actually stop time fully. You can also time-warp yourself short distances to dodge attacks, time-explode, which works as a grenade, put enemies in time-stasis, and stop bullets in midair. This is on top of a rudimentary, but competent third-person shooter. It’s a very hectic, and at times adrenaline surging experience, yet, if it wasn’t for the great story, graphics, and atmosphere, it’s hard to see the combat itself holding the game up. It’s probably the weakest part of Quantum Break, but once again, it’s not bad, it’s just not that exciting. Overall, it just seems to be lacking a certain “oomph”. A big plus the gameplay has going for it, though, is that the game isn’t cursed with “open-world” syndrome. The action flows from encounter to encounter, inter-spliced with story-hubs, where you can relax, and search for lore clues.

Yeah, can’t help you with the math, bro

So in conclusion. It’s one of those rare AAA games that actually feel its budget. Lots of money went into this project, and it’s easy to get mesmerized by the ongoing display, both visually and story-wise. But, as told above, it’s not a shallow experience. The story is well told with likable characters, and it’s clear for being a big-budget title that it was still handled by people with passion without too much corporate greed involved. Truly, a unique experience well worth the money, and nowadays, you can usually find the game for under 10 bucks. I think I bought it for 5 euros, or something ridiculous like that. Highly recommend!

Thanks for reading.


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