The email chains, the notes, the protest placards scattered around the place - it’s all wonderfully detailed. One particularly enjoyable side plot is an author-insert spec script written by one of the special operations commandos employed in Monarch’s private army. Throughout the game you encounter 3-4 other instalments to the script, each more ridiculous than the last. I always wondered after killing the last soldier in an area, with that classic Max Payne slow motion death animation for the last enemy in each encounter, if I’d just taken out the budding scriptwriter.
Exploring the environment delivers plenty of these little gems, and if you’re just here to shoot, many hidden corners also offer upgrade points that you can use to improve your powers in subtle ways. None of the upgrades are essential and none of the upgrades are substantial, but it’s fun regardless.
If the heady thrill of combat is the only reason you’re here though, you might be disappointed anyway. Quantum Break’s combat is fun, but best described as serviceable. Your character is encouraged to take cover to avoid bullets, and this happens automatically when you crouch near something waist high - aiming your gun or a time power pokes you out of cover, allowing you time to get shot in the chest repeatedly.
Don’t worry about that though, Jack Joyce also has time armour, and is capable of taking multiple gunshot wounds without much consequence, coupled with a generous regenerating health system that returns you to full health after a quick breather behind a wall. I’ve only died once so far, but it’s actually kind of cool; you feel like a pulp hero, and no fear of death means plenty of experimentation with the various powers you have on show.
The time powers are logically inconsistent, seemingly existing solely to be fun to use in a shootout. I’m on board with that as an idea though, too many things make sense, not enough things set out solely to amuse.
Despite the game’s numerous flaws, I really enjoyed it. The sense of belonging in a world kept me plugging away, and the act based structure (an act takes 60-90 minutes to play through, and there are 5 acts) meant I powered through an Act and its subsequent live-action episode each evening.
Like every console/PC game Remedy has made since Max Payne, Quantum Break is a hell of a ride. It’s a mechanically serviceable game with flashes of genius, with just a few too many flaws to declare it essential. Those of you with a taste for their previous games will find this a great experience, even if it’s more serious than the usual Remedy fare. It’s just a shame the game has so many minor issues holding it back from greatness and more crucially, one of our shiny recommended badges.