Remedy's Quantum Break for Xbox One is part "cinematic action shooter" and part episodic television series, with each half of the multimedia game affecting the other. But Quantum Break is not a "choose your own adventure," says creative director Sam Lake.
"Both the game and the show are meant to be consumed together," Lake explained. "Episodes between the two interweave. This is a dream come true, and looking at our past games, it's a logical leap forward for Remedy."
In a hands-off preview of the Xbox One game at E3, Lake said Quantum Break does not transform into an "escalating spiderweb of choices" nor is there branching content that could water down a tight singular story into many weaker ones.
Remedy was somewhat vague on precisely how content viewing the television show half of Quantum Break would affect the game side and vice versa. Though he did give us a clue: The game will include moments called "junctions," during which players will make choices that help shape a "director's cut" of the TV content.
Lake and Oskari "Ozz" Häkkinen showed a snippet of a live action scene from Quantum Break — prefaced by a "Tonight on Quantum Break..." — that foreshadowed a revelation in an in-game cinematic. That cinematic was an extended look at the preview of the game from Microsoft's E3 press conference, when protagonist Jack Joyce encounters a doctor caught in a moment frozen in time.
The concept of time — and the manipulation of it — is at the heart of Quantum Break. At the beginning of the game, a failed time travel experiment causes a temporal disaster, causing time to start breaking down. Three people close to that experiment gone are then gifted time-related powers.
Quantum Break will feature two of those people, Jack Joyce and Beth Wilder, as playable characters. The third, Paul Serene, serves as the game's antagonist and the head of evil corporation Monarch. He's also the most powerful of the trio of time-manipulating super-humans.
During some of the game's junction moments, players will actually take control of Paul Serene, letting players make choices from his perspective that affect the show. Lake says TV show episodes will run about 30 minutes in length, and the first season of the show and Quantum Break's game content will all ship at once.
Remedy focused mainly on the interleaving narrative of Quantum Break, speaking little about its actual gameplay. Lake promised us an action shooter that "turn[s] split-second moments of death and destruction into battlegrounds of time-based action." A sizzle reel of quick gameplay cuts showed Jack Joyce stopping vehicles with what appeared to be a time-based telekinesis and protecting himself with a half-sphere shaped force field.
We'll find out more about how Quantum Break plays — and how interactive entertainment merges with passive entertainment — when the game comes to Xbox One. The title is due within the first year of the Xbox One's release.