Quick Thoughts on Quantum Break

Much to my own surprise, the first game I finished on my new Xbox One X and 4K TV became Remedy Entertainment's ill-fated 2016 narrative-heavy third-person shooter Quantum Break.

The time-travelling premise and lengthy cutscenes with familiar-looking actors met with a mostly lukewarm reception last year, and the original Microsoft Store-exclusive PC version was so broken that I almost couldn't play it (and quickly gave up trying). The new Xbox One X upgrade is a tangible improvement over the blurry first console iteration, but still suffers from a number of technical glitches which give the impression that this game will never quite escape the long shadow of its troubled development cycle.

The origin story of Quantum Break's production is every bit as convoluted as the pseudo-scientific lore of the Fracture. Remedy's long-awaited follow-up to Alan Wake was inextricably bound up with Microsoft's over-confident and hastily abandonded console/TV entertainment hybrid scheme for complete world domination (or whatever the company's actual goals were at the time), and the ambitious plans for a live series which would exist independently of the game were scrapped entirely.

What remains is a curious mashup of linear third-person action and 25-minute long FMV cutscenes (unironically complimented by one reviewer as being roughly on par with a mid-tier Syfy production). The actors put in decent performances, but the time-travelling plot mechanics inevitably become a chore to keep track of and the script is weighed down by having terms like "countermeasure" shoved into every third line or so.

But by far the biggest problem is that - unlike the somewhat overrated but similarily pitch-perfect Alan Wake - there's just nothing particularly compelling or memorable about the story or setting of Quantum Break. Its sterile sci-fi trappings might be just as meticulously constructed as the Lynchian pastische of Remedy's previous title, but it ultimately lacks both the playfulness and sheer entertainment value of Alan Wake's adventures in Bright Falls.

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