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Hollywood at Home: a review of Quantum Break

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Hollywood at Home is a weekly column by filmmaker, writer, and critic Keith Hodder that highlights the variety of films and television programs that Netflix has to offer, along with recommendations of what to watch next and his opinions on the world of entertainment. Follow him @KeithHodder and feel free to suggest a film.

Time is broken, heralding the end of life as we know it. At least, those are the stakes that have been established in Remedy Entertainment’s Quantum Break.

Infused with the gameplay mechanics of their previous Max Payne titles and a rich story as seen in Alan Wake, Quantum Break not only offers exciting gameplay, but also an inventive and immersive story.

If you’ve read my first impressions, you’ll know that I was on the fence. The first few hours of the game are admittedly weak, but there were hints of great potential. It was roughly at the halfway mark that I felt fully immersed and engaged with the story, its characters and the amusingly haphazard sequence of events.

The story follows Jack Joyce (Shawn Ashmore), a young man invited to a laboratory by his friend Paul Serene (Aidan Gillen) who reveals to him that he has invented time travel.

An experiment is attempted, but ultimately fails, causing a fracture in time that sets the game’s events into motion and reveals the game’s villain – the future’s Paul Serene, a man who has seen the end of time and is haunted by it.

Friend suddenly turns to foe and Jack is forced to not only confront his relationship, but also the past, present and future.

The failed experiment provides a slew of characters with various abilities, including Jack, which allows players to manipulate time by slowing it, using its energy to harm enemies and to employ it as a protective shield.

And that’s just a few of the exciting possibilities.


This mechanic not only inspires some inventive gameplay tactics, granting players with a variety of ways in which to handle a given situation, but it also affects the world around the characters in more ways than one.

In four key moments the game gives players the opportunity to make a choice. These choices have dire consequences and not only influence for Jack, but the game’s entire cast and the sequence of events.

To make matters more interesting Quantum Break also includes four 22-minute episodes that involve supporting cast members who end up having an influence on the story. The choices made in the game also influence the television show.

In terms of graphics, and as stated in the first impressions, these are easily some of the best offered on the Xbox One and some of the best I’ve ever seen.

The 3D models resemble their real-life counterparts down to the imperfect details and all without wandering into the Uncanny Valley.

There are moments where I was unsure if I was watching the live-action television show or a cut scene from the game.

The textures of the world are also something to marvel at, and in many instances I stopped to explore and simply appreciate the world that was frozen in time around me.

If there is a weakness, it’s that the story really begins to pick up steam at the halfway mark and once the game is finished you’re dying for more.

Call it a clever cliffhanger or a marketing ploy for an eventual sequel, but when Canadian gamers are paying upwards of $80 for a new game title they should be getting their money’s worth.

Quantum Break clocks in at roughly 10 hours worth of gameplay, and five hours of that – give or take – is somewhat lackluster.

Is that enough to dissuade you? It shouldn’t be, but with that said, I’d recommend waiting until the game lowers $10 to $20 for you to feel like you’ve gotten your money’s worth.

With the opportunity to explore different choices in a different play-through, players are tempted with the opportunity to play the game more than once.

There is a lot to take in with Quantum Break. Not only are players lured in by a surprisingly deep and well-thought out story, but each of the characters carry engaging emotional baggage that connects players to the material.

The creators have also planted a slew of narrative details throughout each of the levels to supplement the story, should players be itching for more of the nitty-gritty details. The world too is filled with details and it’s hard not to be immersed in it.

It’s evident that Remedy Entertainment has a love and passion for the video game medium and thrives on the opportunity to push themselves and the quality of their games.

It’s a pleasure to experience their creations and to dive into a full-fledged world that challenges the imagination and invites thorough interaction. Not many games and game makers like this are kicking around anymore.

A note from the author:

As this is my last piece for  Arthur, I’d like to thank many of you who have reached out to me about my writing and my column. It means a great deal to me.

I hope that many of you will join me on this next journey as I continue to explore a career and life as a writer and filmmaker. Please follow me @KeithHodder. If anything else, I’ll see you at the movies.

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