One of the most interesting Xbox One exclusive game reveals was the latest offering from developer Remedy Entertainment, Quantum Break. Known for developing two cult-favorite franchises, Max Payne and Alan Wake (along with top-down racing/shooter Death Rally), speculation on the studio’s next project had kept the rumor mill turning for months – until Quantum Break was officially announced at the Xbox One reveal event. Not long after, fans got their first look at actual (albeit brief) gameplay from the title during the Microsoft 2012 E3 Media Briefing – showing an impressive marriage of cinematic storytelling/presentation and next-generation in-game footage.
Even though Quantum Break has quickly become one of the most-anticipated titles for Xbox One, there’s still very little that we know about the game. While the story and core gameplay mechanics remain a mystery, for now, Remedy is now promising that the game will blend together quality combat (from Max Payne) with cinematic storytelling (from Alan Wake).
Speaking with Games Industry, Remedy Entertainment CEO Matias Myllyrinne discussed the lessons they’ve learned from past projects – promising that any shortcomings have helped them craft an even better experience in Quantum Break:
“We’ve taken a lot of the learnings about interactive storytelling from Alan Wake and we hope to raise the bar further. We’ve taken a lot of the learnings about cinematic combat and shooting mechanics from Max Payne to push those further. We’re building on those for what will hopefully be the ultimate Remedy experience.”
Of course, players shouldn’t necessarily expect direct correlation between the combat of Max Payne and what gamers will ultimately get in Quantum Break. Myllyrinne is discussing the “learnings” of cinematic combat/shooting mechanics here, not outright saying that the studio intends to use the “bullet time” feature of Max Payne in Quantum Break. Instead, the Remedy CEO seems to be indicating that the game will deliver the same immersive storytelling experience as Alan Wake but with the addition of better combat mechanics (an aspect that shined in Max Payne).
That said, as Alan Wake has continued its steady march to financial success over the last few years, it’s getting harder to dismiss the flashlight/gunplay combat as a total misfire. It was an intriguing variation on normal third-person shooter mechanics (much like bullet time back in 2001). Will Remedy’s next iteration of in-game combat be an interesting but divisive idea or receive near-universal praise? The E3 demo of the game did not reveal very much about what players can expect from this new and improved approach to combat, so we’ll have to wait for further reveals down the road to find out whether or not Remedy makes good on their promise.
Of course, Quantum Break doesn’t just intend to tell a gripping story with improved combat, the title is coupled with a full live-action show – and both the TV series and game inform one another. When it was first announced, the idea was intriguing but, since that time, gamers have started to wonder how the interconnected narratives will work – not to mention, where and when the show episodes would be made available.
In the interview, Myllyrinne cleared up confusion about how the TV show component would be made available – asserting that the live-action episodes ship with the game itself:
“The game and TV show ship together as one cohesive package. The episodes of the TV show are interwoven with the episodes of the game. The storylines take place in the same location. Hypothetically you can watch one or play the other but you’ll get so much more out of it if you combine them together.”
“It’ll be one cohesive package. So it’ll ship on one disc or as one single download. We’re not doing episodic as a business model, it’s more for pacing and consumption of the content. There’s natural pauses in there, but it’s up to the audience as to how they watch it. Obviously there are different ways to distribute it. But the primary function of the TV series is to bring the world of Quantum Break to life and give it more depth. And it also felt like a fun thing to do.”
Certain narrative purists remain skeptical of Quantum Breaks‘ attempt at synergy – since, despite its mystery, the straightforward plot was one of the reasons that Alan Wake was such a rewarding character journey. It is possible, depending on how much players can affect the live-action show and/or the game, that too many alterable story elements could muddle the core narrative experience. That said, The Walking Dead and Mass Effect games certainly indicate that choice can lead to even more personal and thought-provoking gaming experiences – even if a developer isn’t intent on telling a single “definitive” story.
Fingers crossed that all the pieces fall into place and Quantum Break truly is, as Myllyrinne put it, the “ultimate Remedy experience.”
Quantum Break is exclusive to Xbox One but does not have an official release date.
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