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Quantum Break's plot and the player

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  • [SPOILERS] Quantum Break's plot and the player

    For a good while Iíve wondered why Quantum Break has never really been as exciting for me and hasnít stuck with me going forward the way Remedyís other games have.

    Quantum Break puts a far higher focus on the world around the player in the story, likely due to the TV show influences. Despite Alan Wake being built around a manuscript highlighting many events outside of the gameís main narrative, the various emails and optional story bits in Quantum Break do a much better job at building a credible world outside of the playable events. Unfortunately, it has a side effect - the player is less likely to care about the events of Jackís story.

    But itís very clearly something Remedy was aware about. The ending clearly highlights the fact that the playerís efforts didnít really do anything. In fact, one could say that what Jack does during the game only worsens things. The lifeboat which couldíve saved at least some people is now gone. The end of time itself has only been pushed back by a few years, and Jack is going to fall to an advancing chronon disease. The story of Quantum Break is quite nihilistic.

    Contrasting that to Alan Wake, where the focus is on Alan himself, and his supporting cast. Thinking outside the presented events could lead to some quite frightening realizations, for example the amount of Taken that have been killed during the game is quite large. It likely means that most of the townspeople have disappeared during Alanís weeks in Bright Falls. But the game creates a story that slowly builds hopes up, from the lowest point right after the beginning, where Alice has disappeared and their cabin hasnít existed for 40 years, to when Alan realizes how to best the impossible, and take down Dark Presence itself. Which is probably why the ending feels so anticlimactic to many, and why people are disappointed about Alanís story not being resolved, despite how the resolution the game has is very well set up in the game. Alan sacrificing himself as an act of balance just doesnít feel right, considering what he has managed to do prior.

    Quantum Break meanwhile starts out in high hopes. You learn about the timeís end relatively soon after the beginning of the game, and Jack has what are basically superpowers. But as the game progresses, you learn that what seemed like a very black-and-white morality issue between Monarch and Jackís little La Rťsistance group isnít actually very black and white at all, and both are working towards the same goal, just from different perspectives. The player learns that despite Jackís superhuman powers, what he can really do to defeat the insurmountable odds is relatively little, and it all builds up to the end, where it is revealed that it was all for nothing.

    Quantum Breakís writing is much better technically, but writing effective plot moments is actually relatively simple. People are eager to connect to characters emotionally Ė and once you have that emotional connection, itís much easier to drag them through events, low points and high victories. While Quantum Break has those characters, slowly learning about the story, and how Jack is effectively the bad guy of the story by the end makes it much harder to care about the characters. In essence, Quantum Break very much rides the Eight Deadly Words. Itís an admirable effort, but not really a story that sticks with someone.

    Especially if theyíre not paying attention to the world outside Jackís story, in which case the game just has a very unsatisfactory ending and plot.
    The "Alan Wake development history" fanatic strikes again!
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