Prevent it or solve it after the fact. That’s the main quandary here, and it’s appreciably less black-and-white than your average video game. The interesting thing, and the reason Quantum Break is half-game/half-TV show, is that much of the story actually takes place on the Monarch side of the lines. The whole live-action half follows characters working in Monarch.
Stripped to their core these are essentially half-hour cinematics—not something I expected to enjoy, especially since they have a certain SyFy channel quality about them at times. Take it slow though, play an act or two a night, and it ends up feeling a lot more cohesive than I expected.
And the reward is a “Shadowy Corporation” that seems anything but. By spending so much time with Quantum Break’s antagonists, it ultimately results in a game that feels more like Monarch’s story than Jack’s.
Prior to each episode you’ll also be faced with a huge (meaning you’ll know it when you see it) A-or-B moral choice that significantly changes Quantum Break’s story. It’s Telltale-esque, in that ultimately the story’s going to end up in the same place, but having replayed bits of the game I was actually surprised how many of the component pieces changed.
It’s a game built to play twice. And...well, if you do so, at least it’ll take half as much time on your second go-round. The heretofore-unmentioned Achilles Heel of Quantum Break is how much damn time you’ll spend tracking down collectibles.
So. Many. Collectibles.
Listen: These are probably some of the best collectibles I’ve seen in a game, insofar as they’re essential to understanding the plot. You would have a completely different understanding of the story if you missed or skimmed over one lengthy note in particular.
But they’re awful storytelling, and they completely kill the pacing. There’s a moment where I walked into a lab and a character said to me “I found these files on the computer, printed them out and put them on that table over there.” I turned around to see five pieces of paper sitting on a desk (see above), each representing a lengthy email chains or document to read through. All told it was probably five minutes of standing still, reading text. At once.
If you were diligent in your first trek through the game, though, you could breeze through all of the empty spaces and skip all the nonsense in a second run. Whereas in Alan Wake it felt like the pages you found fit the theme (a writer whose work is coming true), here it feels like a crutch.
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