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Quantum Break (PC) hands-on preview: Half video game, half TV show, all weird

Hayden Dingman | March 2, 2016
For when you can't decide between Netflix and Steam.

Televised revolution

Then there’s the TV aspect. I won’t get heavy into spoilers, but suffice it to say the first Act (and presumably this also applies to the other four) was capped by a major Telltale-style “Choose This or This” decision and then we got into Quantum Break: The TV Show Stuff.

The acting is top-notch, thanks to a few heavy hitters (like always-intimidating Lance Reddick) and a cadre of lesser-known but equally-talented actors. And it’s incredible that the game’s models are so polished—like, LA Noire polished—you can tell who’s who with no trouble after switching from game to show.

I’m also curious to see how the player choice aspects play into the show as you get further in. The first episode obviously sports one massive difference due to your last-minute decision, but it otherwise doesn’t do much with that pseudo-interactivity. It’s hard to know how much agency players have in the story.

But at the moment, I just don’t understand. I didn’t clock it, but I think the episode was around half an hour. It felt longer. I generally feel bad if I realize I’m checking my phone during a game. I checked my phone a lot during the live-action bit of Quantum Break.

I watch a lot of TV, but I generally compartmentalize my gaming and television. When I want to passively watch something, I do. When I (far more often) want to play games, I do. Quantum Break brings the two together in uneasy harmony, and my big question going into it was “Why?”

I didn’t really get an answer. From what I can tell, the sole reason is “Because that way Remedy can trick you into watching half an hour of exposition,” and if that’s the case I don’t think they’re entirely successful. It still feels like watching a half-hour cutscene, the controller resting nearby on a desk reminding you that you’re not playing the game at the moment. I could’ve kept playing after the first episode, could’ve jumped into Act Two, but by that point I felt tired and drained. All my forward momentum had been lost.

Don’t think of this as passing judgment, per se. I still left with positive impressions, and I think it could be interesting to play one Act per night or per week or what have you, with the live-action episodes serving as a natural breaking point. I didn’t see anything to convince me the live-action aspect is more than a gimmick, though.

The Windows Store

Last but not least, we’re forced to discuss Microsoft’s role here. Namely, the fact this game is a Windows 10/Windows Store exclusive. You won’t be able to play Quantum Break on Steam, or even Windows 7 or 8.

 

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