Quantum Break Bends the Definition of Gaming

Quantum Break

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I don’t know a lot about Quantum Break. I know it’s a next-gen game for the Xbox One that will be twinned with a TV series, and I know it’s being developed by Remedy Entertainment, the studio responsible for Max Payne and Alan Wake. It was announced at E3, but its reveal wasn’t accompanied by any gameplay trailers. There are two trailers though, which consist of live-action scenes mixed with breath-taking CGI demonstrations of destruction, freezing time, and realistic rendered faces Andy Serkis would be amazed by.

It’s not so much the concept of Quantum Break that’s unique, but its intentions to smash through the wall that separates gaming and television. Defiance is both a game and TV show so Remedy isn’t the first to cross-pollinate a franchise, but if there is one thing Remedy made absolutely clear at E3 it is how playing Quantum Break influences the plot of the TV show, and how the characters on-screen influence the game. This back-and-forth collaboration brings to light some concerns.

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My first concern is more a curiosity than a problem. How will Quantum Break be structured? My immediate assumption is that players will complete one episode at a time or a series of quests that end where the TV episode will take off. Once this TV episode reshapes the plot the game is updated and the next episode or series of quests are playable, where upon players reshape the plot again for the next TV episode that airs. This cross-media exchange could increase the length of the game and the TV series. I can visualise Quantum Break as a game and a TV show that can be purchased for the price of one.

My first concern branches off from that structure. If audiences have to wait too long between episodes and gameplay people might lose interest in Quantum Break. If the game and TV show send ripples between one another then it will certainly take time to creatively adjust those changes. It all depends how quickly Remedy can apply them.

Next, how do players who pick up the game months or years after its release get to be part of co-creating the events that happen in the TV show? Presumably, whatever decisions they make throughout level one won’t make a difference because the choices were decided months/years ago. The only option these late-comers have is to play all the episodes available and enjoy the TV show separately, and that negates the whole experimental purpose of Quantum Break. Without the audience participation how is it any different to playing Halo, God of War or Mario Kart?

I’m confident that Remedy will answer all these questions as more details are revealed, and I’m sure I’ll be satisfied with whatever Remedy decides to do. This is the first time this has been attempted and there will be a lot of bumps along the way, but hopefully we will all learn from it. You never know, there just might be a new genre on the horizon.

– Lee Chesnalavage

 

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