Is Quantum Break the Revolutionary Game it Thinks it is?

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Posted August 19, 2014 by Jean-Luc Botbyl in Video Games

This is it. We have finally, after over a year of waiting, seen real Quantum Break gameplay. Over eight minutes of it was shown at Microsoft’s press conference at Gamescom, even though it was announced way back in May of last year with the Xbox One. So, after seeing the gameplay, gamers can actually start making decisions as to whether or not this is something that they’re going to be interested in. Obviously, the first gameplay trailer isn’t enough to solidify a decision. However, it’s definitely a lot better than a CG trailer and the hype that’s been surrounding the game. Finally, Quantum Break can actually be evaluated on its own merits as a game, rather than a thing that will eventually come out.

Now, those following the game will know that it’s being billed as something revolutionary. During the gameplay demo, they talked about how groundbreaking the whole thing is. This is obviously a major selling point for the developers, Remedy Entertainment. This is a company known for creating revolutionary experiences, the Max Payne and Alan Wake franchises are proof enough of this. So yes, they obviously have it in them to add another revolutionary, well accepted game to their repertoire. But honestly? I really was not impressed by the Quantum Break gameplay demo, and I say this as an Xbox gamer (maybe even fanboy) who was legitimately excited for this game to come out.

Perhaps my expectations were too high, but Quantum break doesn’t look at all like a revolutionary experience to me. Now, that isn’t to say that it’s going to be a bad game. I can see it being a great game, but I don’t quite think that it will break the threshold into being an amazing game. In my book, “amazing” is a descriptor reserved for games that offer me a unique experience that I can’t get anywhere else. Quantum Break looks like a perfectly competent third person shooter with some added gameplay quirks and a cheesy, overdone story.

For those who haven’t seen the gameplay demo, it showcases three major mechanics. All of them revolve around the manipulation of time, a superpower possessed by the protagonist, who gets these powers as a result of a time travel experiment gone wrong. The first is the ability to distort time so that the player can move at incredible speeds, at least in comparison to everyone else. This allows the player to confuse and escape enemies. You know what that sounds like? A dash mechanic. Look, this is nothing new at all. Tons of games have a similar mechanic, and the fact that it’s rooted in the distortion of time doesn’t make the mechanic any different. Sure, it adds a cool story twist, but as a gameplay mechanic, it’s nothing new.

The second mechanic that was showcased was the ability to freeze time in a certain area in order to prevent the movement of enemies in that bubble. Remember Bucking Bronco from Bioshock Infinite, that suspended enemies in the air for a period of time, allowing Booker to pick them off? That’s what this is. Again, it’s not new at all. This mechanic already exists, and like with the glorified dash mechanic, having it rooted in time manipulation adds a cool story quirk, and that’s it, really. Finally, they showcased that certain sections of the game will be completely frozen in time, but the player can move through them. Certain enemies are also present in these sections. Sure, it may be a stretch to call this a gameplay mechanic, but again, this isn’t exactly the most original idea ever, and the enemies they showed here are reminiscent of “tank” enemies present in other games, such as Halo’s Hunters and Bioshock’s Big Daddies.

Look, riffing off of other games is nothing new. Really, Remedy is just taking advantage of commonly used video game tropes, which is fine. Most games do that. My argument is that it’s unfair to Quantum Break, and to Remedy, to bill the game as being revolutionary. It’s going to look absolutely great on the Xbox One, that’s for sure. Plus, it looks like a fun third person shooter. There’s a lot of potential for Quantum Break to be a great game, and the game could definitely surprise me and deliver a great narrative. But from what they’ve shown us, it’s going to be lacking in the originality department.


About the Author

Jean-Luc Botbyl

Jean-Luc is a grizzled veteran of We the Nerdy. Most days, he just wonders why he hasn't been formally fired. Follow him on Twitter at @J_LFett to make him feel validated.