released OUT NOW! Reviewed on XBox One
Also on PC Publisher Microsoft
Time- bending actioner Quantum Break’s structure is pretty simple: between each one to two- hour “act” of gameplay, a 20- minute “episode” of a liveaction TV show plays. In the former sections, you take control of Jack Joyce, a rough- and- tumble charmer racing to stop an apocalyptic event that looks set to end time itself.
He’s opposed by Monarch, a shadowy corporation run by his former best friend Paul Serene. It’s this side of the conflict explored in the TV series, which tells the story of the workings, motivations and internal conflicts that shape Monarch’s actions over the course of the game. It’s a novel conceit, but the final result is a frequently brilliant game repeatedly interrupted by an utterly tedious television show.
As Joyce, you use your control over time to transform what would be a basic third- person shooter into pure power fantasy. Freezing foes where they stand, slamming into them at super- speed, stopping bullets in mid- air and more – each of your abilities feels incredible to deploy. Combat isn’t necessarily easy, but you always feel like the one in control of the fight.
The game’s setpieces are truly spectacular affairs that see you navigating the catastrophes caused by the breakdown of time. From walking through your brother’s workshop as it fast- forwards from the past to the present, to platforming across a collapsing bridge as it slips in and out of the time stream, these sequences represent some of the most memorable we’ve ever seen. Unfortunately the live- action episodes fail to capture any of the excitement or craft of your time as Joyce. In their attempt to recreate the look of the game, they succeed only in making sets, actors and effects look cheap and strangely artificial. The show is packed with unlikeable characters, groan- inducing dialogue and dodgy editing, but worst of all, it’s just boring.
Without the show, the game has a natural rhythm of quiet moments, story beats, and loud action. With it, the breaks between gunfights feel too long, and we found ourselves resenting what would otherwise have been welcome sections of exposition or character development.
Turns out TV really is bad for you.
The game packs in a bunch of Alan Wake Easter eggs, including a chalkboard of theories about the first game’s plot.
These giant bubble blowers were getting really impressive.