Over the last couple years, and especially over the eighth generation of videogames, some developers have strived more and more to make their games "cinematic". They manipulate the lighting, include long cutscenes and work on heavy narratives. Quantum Break is one of the clearest examples of this tendency, to an extent that it can only partly be called a videogame; instead, it's a transmedia project.
On one side, Quantum Break is a third-person shooter with time manipulation mechanics. You control Jack Joyce, who must prevent the end of time after an experiment gone wrong. The player has several different weapons available, including shotguns, SMG's and handguns with infinite ammo. The best part of combat is the use of Jack's powers, which can be linked to create combos. Among these abilities we find a time blast, a time-dodging technique and a shield to deflect bullets. However, even in the hardest difficulty setting, the combat is extremely easy. The player can't even control when Jack takes or leaves cover, as it is automatic. Tougher enemies and deeper combat would've surely made the experience more engaging. The puzzles and platforming are also fairly simple but at least make the story progress faster.
The other side of the game is a live-action show, divided into four episodes after the actual gameplay. It's a shame we actually have to watch the episodes to be interested in the game story, since it is subpar quality cinematography and the events and most characters of the show don't even appear on the game. The product would've benefited from in-game narrative instead of a separate entity, but even the "narrative objects" found in the game are mostly composed of lengthy texts (and even a full screenplay!).
The audiovisual design of the game is impeccable. For the time, and even today, it is one of the best-looking Xbox games. The particle effects and time-warping visuals are stunning, and so are the characters' animations and environmental design. The electronic-based soundtrack fits the science-fiction themes and creates a tense and exciting atmosphere. All of this is definitely the best part of the game.
Quantum Break is an entertainent product that couldn't find the balance between gameplay and narrative, and instead opted for the easy path: include a literal live-action show, running up to two hours. The series being lower in quality than the game, it truly affects our perception of the final work.
- ▸Gorgeous graphics and sound design.
- ▸Intuitive controls and addictive time-manipulation mechanics.
- ▸Above average character animation and voice acting.
- ▸Tedious live-action show between game episodes.
- ▸Extremely easy, to the point combat becomes unexciting.