This narrative thread, one of many, is the wrapping around the Max Payne and Alan Wake developer's latest: a third-person action shooter, with cover mechanics that Remedy says is built on core strengths learned from the team's past development experiences.
Tied to a television series Microsoft will produce and release, Quantum Break is a game that weaves its narrative through multiple forms of media. As players control two playable characters through the game's narrative, stories in the game and live-action series collide to help flesh out the Quantum Break universe.
"There are a number of ways in which the game and the show interact. That said, it's worth mentioning that we're not creating a 'choose your own adventure' where, very easily, one tight story gets watered down to many weaker ones. For us, this is much more 'one powerful story told many ways, based on your actions," Lake adds.
Quantum Break's episodic-structure is built around character's with the ability to manipulate time. Time breaks manifest in the game where the world begins to stutter, freeze and violently skip forward. Having been exposed to the experiment gone bad, game protagonists Jack Joyce and Beth Wilder, as well as Quantum Break's primary bad guy Paul Serene, are all gifted with time manipulation abilities. How each character decides to utilize their newfound abilities differs greatly, but players can help shape specific decisions and motivations.
Though the prime narrative in Quantum Break won't change based on actions, the game allows for some deviation based on player choice by way of a system known as "junctions in time."
"Your junction choices in the game are a big part of defining your custom experience in the game, and your personalized 'Director's Cut' of the television series. All of the junction moments are big, memorable moments with big consequences in both the game and the show," Lake says.
Remedy, who proudly admits it draws inspiration from a melting pot of pop culture, says that the best enemies in action movies always come close to "stealing the whole show." Quantum Break's baddie, Paul Serene, has the most powerful time power: the ability to see glimpses into other timelines and futures.
"In an action movie, you always have these scenes where the bad guy is planning and making his moves. In Quantum Break, you get to play the bad guy during junction moments, determining which future comes to pass."
Decisions made during junction moments will reflect throughout the rest of the game, we're told while a live demo of the game showcases one of these moments: a characters stands in the middle of a crime scene and two ghostly copies of himself dart off in opposite directions, giving players an indication of where they can go to shape the way the scene plays out.
Though it's not required watching to complete the game, viewing the live-action Quantum Break series will give players information to unlock further content in the game, we're told.
As Jack and Beth enter the scene they spot the scientist, flying backwards and frozen in the air with a terrified look on her face. The scene is gorgeous, with particles suspended in the air. Wood panelling from the scientist's desk are broken into pieces, surrounded by glass and hang like a painting in the middle of the room. Taking control of the scene is Remedy's Head of Franchise Development Oskari Häkkinen, who pushes through the debris, as Jack, toward the scientist.
As Jack comes across flying matter, he swipes it out of his way much like Assassin's Creed protagonists push through dense crowds. The fine detail is immense, from splinters and large chunks of wood to minuscule shards and large surviving panes of sharp glass all being whisked away as Jack inches toward his target.
With the scientist frozen along with the explosion, Jack uses his ability to rip her out of time. Grabbing her, Jack jerks her body toward his and eventually she wakes from the broken timeline and witnesses the chaos taking place in her office.
"I'm not going to hurt you, but I can't let you go!" Jack screams at the terrified woman. "Something went wrong with the experiment. This 'zero state' is just the beginning and Serene is behind all of it." Soon after the exchange begins, the frozen timeline begins to degrade and the explosion continues throughout the room, nearly taking all three characters with it.
"We're building on our two core strengths," Lake says, "we've taken what we have learned about interactive storytelling from Alan Wake and we've raised the bar much higher. And we're taking everything that we have learned about cinematic stylized action from Max Payne and, again, we've raised the bar much higher."
"We brought these two elements together in one game, creating something that you could call the 'ultimate Remedy experience.'"
Quantum Break is coming exclusively to the Xbox One sometime in 2014.