Despite a number of deserving criticisms, Remedy Entertainment’s Xbox 360 exclusive Alan Wake was a highlight, for many story-loving gamers, in the last console generation. As a result, players were eager to see what the studio had planned for the next-gen – with rumors circulating that Alan Wake 2 was in the works. However, during Microsoft’s conference at the 2013 E3 Expo, Remedy revealed that their next game is actually an all new cross-medium project titled Quantum Break – an experience that will exist both as a live-action TV series and a blockbuster game IP on Xbox One.
Interest in the project was high but very few details were available at the time – with little more than a cinematic trailer and a few vague comments from the Remedy team. The studio is still keeping a lot of Quantum Break information close to the vest but they have started providing a bit more information on what to expect.
Now, in an interview Edge Online, Remedy Entertainment CEO Matias Myllyrinne has offered new info about the highly-anticipated game (and show), teasing that the studio intends to improve the interactive entertainment “artform” by blending games and live-action TV episodes into a seamless (and subsequently more immersive) experience.
For months, it’s been unclear exactly how Remedy intended to release the Quantum Break episodes – recently clarifying that the live-action component will actually be included on the game disc (not downloaded or streamed separately), unlocked as the story progresses. However, according to head of franchise development at the studio, Oskari Hakkinen, gamers can choose when to view the live-action TV segments – and no one will be forced to sit through an episode prior to resuming gameplay:
“You’ll unlock the live-action episode at the end of the [gameplay] episode, but you can choose when you jump into that. The best experience would be to play the game, watch the live action, then play the game some more, but if you’ve chosen to dedicate your two-hour slot to gaming and you don’t want to watch live action straight away, you can continue on with the game and pick up on the live action from your iPad or phone at a later date.”
When it comes to how the game will actually play, we still don’t have many specifics – not to mention how the choices made in the game can affect the larger narrative – but the developers remain confident in their plan. Hakkinen even promised that, growing from their experiences with story in Alan Wake and action gameplay in Max Payne 3, Quantum Break is “not only a Remedy game,” it’s “the ultimate Remedy game.”
Summing up what it means for a game to be the “ultimate” Remedy experience, Myllyrinne claims that the key is, first, to deliver enjoyable gameplay encounters, so that, second, players are drawn into a quality story:
“We want to put out an awesome action game with a very strong story told in a new way. At its heart, the gameplay needs to be good — how the game feels; how it plays; do you get a rush of adrenaline when you press the trigger and dodge for cover? If you don’t have those things nailed down then nobody is going to be drawn in to the fiction either. Those fundamentals need to be polished to what I call a ‘Remedy pedigree’ — the standard that we need to hit. That will happen.”
So how exactly do you marry innovative gameplay with a quality story? For Remedy, a big part of the Quantum Break project rests in making significant choices – and watching them play out in both the live-action and gameplay components. In the interview, Myllyrinne offers a clear example of how the studio is tuning the synergy between interactive and traditional storytelling:
“At the end of the episode, you get to play the bad guy, who has the most powerful time-manipulation powers of all. So he gets to choose which future comes to pass. You play that bad guy; you choose the moment. Then, once you’ve made your choice, you can enjoy a high-quality TV episode where you’ll see how your choices impacted certain things. Unlike many other games, you actually get to know what the consequences of your choice are. [In other games], when I make a choice, I don’t necessarily know what the impact of that decision has been, or why things turned out a certain way. Obviously you can have twists and turns, but it’s good to understand the consequences of your actions. We should be making [choice] more meaningful for gamers and more engaging.”
Of course, when it comes to choice in video games, the most difficult challenge that developers typically face is ensuring that those choices actually matter in the long run. Being able to see the consequences of your actions is great but, in the infamous case of Mass Effect 3, simply seeing the results of a decision didn’t necessarily translate into feeling as though choices throughout the experience built toward something substantial. Hopefully Remedy can succeed in their goal of ensuring that choice is both meaningful and engaging – not simply cause-and-effect window dressing.
As a multi-medium concept, Quantum Break is certainly one of the more interesting projects currently in development. Still, with few details regarding what makes the actual gameplay special, separate from the larger time-manipulation story concepts, it’s hard to know whether or not the complete package will come together. Plenty of games utilize bullet time, and covered-based shooting mechanics – so the jury is still out on whether or not Quantum Break will be able to live up to its lofty story ambitions with equally gripping in-the-moment gameplay offerings. Remedy Entertainment has a strong pedigree but it’s been a long time since they delivered a title that seamlessly blended story and gameplay – without one element detracting (at least slightly) from the other.
Quantum Break is expected to release some time in 2014, exclusively for the Xbox One.
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Source: Edge Online