Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Some reasons why 'Quantum Break' was so bad.

A couple of days ago, me and my friends managed to play through Quantum Break's story mode. After spending four evenings playing this much anticipated game about time travel gone bad, we managed to reach the finish line.

As a whole, we agreed that the game unfortunately wasn't that well made. The only really good thing about it was that graphics wise the game looked pretty solid and that the combat system was somewhat entertaining too.

In any case, in order to keep things simple, I'll try to list seven major reasons why Quantum Break's story didn't work at all. These are the things why the game failed and why most of the time its story felt so disappointing.

1) There's not much of a reason for the protagonist to exist.

Let's not forget the old adage about how plot is character and character is plot. This means that the better written and the more compelling your protagonist is, the better the story as a whole is going to be too.

Unfortunately, when the game started, it didn't take long before we noticed that a) our protagonist's presense in the beginning wasn't really needed and b) him instantly agreeing to participate in the experiment made no sense whatsoever.

Also, when the 'catalyst' phase happened in the story, the villain in the game had no compelling reason to invite our Jack Joyce. He could have found someone more trustworthy than a person that he had barely met before.

2) Our main character seems dumb and doesn't know what to do.

As the game progresses, it becomes apparent - although not stated - that our main character has no clue about science or about time travel. Nothing in the game suggests that he knows what the villain and his scientist brother were up to.
This means that he has no idea what to do or what his goals should be. All the actual 'decisions' in the game are made by other characters (some of them you get to play very briefly) who supposedly know what they're talking about.

So since our main character can't do anything intellectual in the game, he more or less resorts to shooting and killing the bad guys. This makes him a fairly uninteresting and bland character that you can't really root for.

3) Exposition in the game is simply horrible.

Easily the biggest problem with the game is how badly the parts where you get to play the game and how the live action sequences mesh together. This 'ambitious' aspect of the game doesn't work at all and warrants a lot of criticism.

The single worst moment in the game is when the first live action scene kicks in and we're introduced to a character that we haven't even seen in the actual game. This is such an awful way to tell a story that it needs to be seen in order to be believed.

When it comes to producing a game like this, you are allowed to take chances, but you also have to respect the basics of storytelling. There are some axiomatic rules about what you can and can't do that simply cannot be ignored. 
4) Those 20+ minute live action scenes are pointless.

I have no idea who's idea it was that we would follow the private lives of some tertiary characters in the story. This seems such an awful idea that you might even think that someone was sabotaging the game on purpose.

In these live action scenes we keep following (among other things) the private life of one of the villain's bodyguards. For some reason we're supposed to be interested in following this guy who happens to have a pregnant wife.

In my estimation, only like 10% of these videos are about the actual main characters & the villain. The rest of the videos are about these 'red shirts' who don't really matter and who go through meaningless events in the story.

5) The game has all kinds of continuity problems. 

Unfortunately, there's not that much immersion in the game or moments that keep you excited and entertained. Since the objective of the main character is fairly obscure throughout the game, it's hard to give a damn about the story.

I mean, there are certain moments when things are almost interesting and you're almost entertained. The sequence on the broken bridge was at least somewhat interesting and there was a fight scene about two thirds in that didn't wear me down.

However, both these exciting moments are shortlived and don't last long. That abrupt transition from the bridge to the homebase is extremely awkward and that cool fight that I mentioned ends with an awful cutaway scene.
6) The story already happened - so there's no reason to play.

That's right, for some reason every single thing that you experience in the game has already happened. Our protagonist is only retelling his story, which becomes clear when he talks to some woman inside some random interrogation room.

I have no clue what the writers were thinking when they decided to throw that curveball at us. The story in no way benefited from this pointless revelation and made playing the game even less interesting as a whole.

To be clear, this 'it already happened' can be okay as long as only certain parts of the game have already taken place. Uncharted for example did a pretty good job with it when Nathan Drake's story started with that train accident in Uncharted 2.

7) The ending, not surprisingly, doesn't make sense.

Finally, after finishing the game, one big problem we had with the ending was that one of the villains who already died apparently wasn't dead after all. He hadn't died even though he was shot in the head and clearly was a goner.

Yet, what was even more troubling about the finale was how our 'smart' protagonist wanted to go back in time again. He wanted to go back, because - surprise, surprise - he wanted to save one of the female characters that we briefly met in the game.

Considering that 'Quantum Break' was all about how we shouldn't mess with time travel technology, and how we should be aware of the risks that would be involved, that was probably the worst way to end the game. 

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