Remedy has always told ambitious stories. The studio’s newest title, Quantum Break, is full of time travel, evil corporations, quantum time stutters, and men who age 17 years in five minutes. It might sound confusing, but it’s actually a pretty cool concept. So pull up a chair and listen while we give you the ultimate Quantum Break story primer.

Sure, I guess. I’m trying to procrastinate so I don’t have to do any real work.

Great, so here’s the quick lowdown. Quantum Break is the next game from Remedy Entertainment – the game studio that brought us Alan Wake and the first two Max Payne games. It’s set around the fictional East Coast university town of Riverport, and revolves around a science experiment that goes horribly wrong, causing the flow of time to break down and eventually stop altogether.

Does that mean our universe would cease to exist?

Not quite, it just means the universe would be permanently paused, but from our perspective that would seem pretty much the same. It’s a bit of a wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey mess.

This already sounds confusing.

Don’t worry, it’s not that bad. Why don’t we talk about some of the main characters?

Sure, I heard that this game stars Iceman.

Yeah, that’s Jack Joyce. He’s the main hero, who’s played by actor Shawn Ashmore (best known as Iceman from the X-Men films). Jack is a good-old American boy who has spent the past six years traveling the world. He returns to his hometown at the request of his best friend, Paul Serene.

That’s Littlefinger from Game of Thrones, right? I’ve seen the trailers.

Yes, the actor’s name is Aidan Gillen. Anyway, Paul is in the middle of an ambitious physics project at Riverport University. Basically, he’s trying to build a time machine. The project is essentially complete and ready for a test run, but Paul’s investors have grown worried and suddenly the entire project looks like it might get scrapped – so Paul is eager to prove his project works. He asks Jack to take a clandestine trip to the lab for an unauthorized test run that he hopes will give him the data he needs to appease his investors.

Let me guess; it all blows up in their faces?

Yeah, well, pretty much. But before that can even happen, Jack’s estranged older brother, Dr. William Joyce, turns up.

He’s played by the Hobbit that was on Lost, right?

That’s right, wilderness enthusiast Dominic Monaghan. Anyway, Dr. Will is a bit of an eccentric and obsessive physicist, but his earlier theoretical work on quantum physics helped form the basis for Paul’s experiment.

Okay, so he’s jealous that they’re working on it without him?

Not quite, he’s worried that they’re going to completely blow up time. In fact, Will is the one who tipped off Paul’s investors to the fact that this time-machine experiment might not be entirely safe. Will is extremely worried that the machine will cause a fracture in the time/space continuum that could lead to the timey-wimey apocalyptic event we talked about earlier. So when Will shows up and sees that Jack and Paul are taking the time machine on an unauthorized test run, he’s not happy. Oh, and he has a gun.

Then things blow up? 

Yes… well sort of. The time machine starts to emit a strange pulse that hits both Jack and Paul. Immediately afterward, time freezes. However, both Jack and Paul are mysteriously unaffected by this time stutter. When time resumes, armed men from Monarch Solutions storm the lab. Jack and Will manage to escape, but Paul is trapped inside the time machine and chooses to flee into the future.

Hold on, what is Monarch Solutions?

Monarch is a bit of a mysterious organization. It’s basically a giant technology corporation that has been working on its own time-travel technology. Monarch is the main foil in the game.

So they’ve been working alongside Paul on their own time travel technology.

Well, that’s not clear. In fact, it’s a little confusing, because after the time-machine disaster, Monarch seems to have changed a bit. One big change is that a Paul is now CEO of Monarch Solutions.

I thought he escaped into the future.

He did, but he comes back after a bit – only when he comes back he’s 17-years older than before, and he’s spearheading Monarch’s ruthless charge to experiment with time.

Wait, so after traveling into the future, did he suddenly turn around and travel into the past to help found Monarch Solutions?

That’s a good question.

So what’s the answer?

Okay, well now that he’s back and in charge of a powerful organization can he help fix time?

Something in the future seems to have scared Paul, even damaged him. When Paul gets back, he acts like he wants to prevent the end of time, but he’s steamrolling a lot of people along the way. Case in point, when Will refuses to help Paul further experiment with time, Paul kills him right in front of his brother.

Whoa, that’s cold blooded.

It’s reptilian.

So, naturally, Jack probably wants revenge on his best friend for killing his brother. Sounds like a Greek tragedy.

You got it. Thankfully, that mysterious pulse of energy that came out of the time machine gave Jack some time-manipulation powers of his own, which will come in handy when he’s fighting off Paul’s hordes of Monarch security goons. Unfortunately, Paul has the same time powers, and he has almost two decades worth of experience using them, so Jack will have to get used to them fast if he has any hope of fighting back against Paul and stopping the quantum fracture from spreading before time literally runs out.

Okay, don’t tell me any more about this game, I’m ready to play it.

Great, it comes out on April 5, so put it on your calendar. I know how forgetful you are.

Wait a minute, you sound familiar. Have I been talking to a future version of myself who’s already played the game?

To learn more about Quantum Break, see new gameplay, and for features such as this 100 question interview with creative director Sam Lake, click on the banner below to enter our hub of exclusive content rolling out throughout the month.

the author Ben Reeves