Max Payne 4: The Vials of Sorrow
Developer(s) Remedy Entertainment
Publisher(s) Microsoft Studios (Xbox One/Windows)
Nintendo (Switch)
Platform(s) Xbox One
Microsoft Windows
Nintendo Switch
Genre(s) Third-person shooter
Series Max Payne
Release Date(s) Xbox One/Windows:
October 19th, 2018 (WW)
Nintendo Switch:
February 15th, 2019 (WW)
Age Rating(s) MRating 18Rating CERO Z

Max Payne 4: The Vials of Sorrow is a third-person shooter video game developed by Remedy Entertainment and published by Microsoft Studios and Nintendo for Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, and Nintendo Switch. It was released worldwide on October 19th, 2018 for Xbox One and Windows; the Switch version was released later on February 15th, 2019.

The fourth installment of the Max Payne series, the story (written by Sam Lake, writer of the first two games in the series) ignores the events of Rockstar Games' Max Payne 3 and centers on the titular NYPD veteran detective fifteen years after the events of the second game as he investigates a series of murders believed to be linked to the trafficking of the drug Valkyr, which has made an inexplicable return to the streets of New York City. Along the way, Max uncovers more about his past and the truth behind the murder of his wife and daughter twenty years ago.

James McCaffrey reprises his iconic voice role as the title character, while Finnish actor Timothy Gibbs returns to portray Max in the game's live-action comic-style cutscenes (reprising his role from Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne) as well as being the character's motion capture actor. Remedy stated that with Max Payne 4 it was their intention to return to the gritty film-noir style of the first two games that they feel were absent from Max Payne 3.


Max Payne 4: The Vials of Sorrow is a third-person shooter game. The player assumes the role of its titular character and progresses through the story by defeating enemies throughout levels, all of which are based in New York City. The game features live-action comic book-style cutscenes much like the first two games in the series. The auto-aim mechanic, cover system, "Last Stand" mechanic, and in-game motion comic-style cutscenes introduced in Max Payne 3 are removed, due to Remedy finding them to be unfit for the series.

The game features a destructible environment, and players can use use this to their advantage. For example, an enemy standing near a gas can can be defeated by shooting the gas can, causing a mini explosion. Much like past Max Payne games, bullet time returns, in which time can be slowed down to give players a better feel for the environment, as well as allowing the player to perform a "shoot-dodge" in which they dive, evading oncoming gunfire. Only two weapons can be carried at a time. Health can be replenished by finding painkillers or food in the game environment; bullet time slowly regenerates.

Unlike Max Payne 3, the game does not include a multiplayer mode, due to Remedy's stance on focusing entirely on the single-player content of the game. The Switch version of the game can be played utilizing the Joy-Con controllers' motion capabilities, while the Xbox One version can be played with the Kinect.

Plot summary

Fifteen years following the events of Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne, Max Payne is a veteran detective of the New York City Police Department, working under Police Chief Lacey Chambers. For the past several months, Max has been investigating a series of murders, all of which seem to be committed by someone involved in the trafficking of the drug Valkyr from the original Max Payne. Max sets out a city-wide journey to find the traffickers of the drug and along the way learns the truth behind the murders of his wife and daughter.


Shortly before the release of Remedy Entertainment's Quantum Break in March 2016, Sam Lake, writer of the first two games in the Max Payne series, confirmed his interest in a sequel, saying “If that kind of opportunity did present itself I think it would be fun,” and later revealed that if they were to make a sequel it would be "very different" from Rockstar Games' Max Payne 3. Early in 2017, Remedy re-bought the rights to the series and began development on a new game, with Nintendo publishing.

Lake chose to ignore the events of Max Payne 3 and instead craft an entirely new story picking up fifteen years after the end of Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne, giving him the freedom to fill in the gaps in between. While writing the story for the game, Lake took inspiration from many contemporary action and thriller films, including The Dark Knight Rises. A return to the neo-noir style of the first two games was unanimously agreed upon by the studio early in the game's development.

An early teaser trailer for Max Payne 4: The Vials of Sorrow was shown off at the 2017 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) during Microsoft's conference. The teaser trailer for the game showed rain falling, followed by the sound of a gun clicking, then Max Payne faded into view as the new green Max Payne 4 logo was superimposed over the frame, followed by the Remedy Entertainment and Microsoft Studios logos. The Nintendo Switch version was announced later in the summer during a Nintendo Direct.


Kartsy Hatakka and Kimmo Kajasto, composers for Max Payne and Max Payne 2, returned to compose the soundtrack for Max Payne 4.

Special editions and bundles

A bundle featuring a Max Payne-themed Xbox One X console, the game, and soundtrack was released on November 9th, 2018. Also included are free download codes for enhanced ports of the original Max Payne and Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne. The console features a mostly white design, but with some green blood streaks, and the Max Payne 4 logo and a faded green-tinted image of Max on the top.


Max Payne 4: The Vials of Sorrow was critically acclaimed, with many reviewers praising the game's story, gameplay, soundtrack, and visuals, as well as the series' return to the style of the original Max Payne and its sequel. The game was also a commercial success. The game was nominated for a Game of the Year award by GameSpot.


The success of Max Payne 4 has led to rumors of discussion of a film reboot that will, unlike the 2008 film, be more directly based on the first game in the series. While a new film has yet to be confirmed and no actors, writers, or directors are said to yet be involved, actor Kevin Bacon has expressed interest in the title role, citing similarities between Max Payne and the film Death Sentence.

A possible prequel spin-off game focusing around the character Mona Sax has also been discussed according to Sam Lake, and while he is only "in planning stages" for it, Microsoft and Nintendo have stated they would happily publish a new game in the Max Payne universe for their systems. Lake has stated, however, that Max Payne 4 is the final installment of the Max Payne trilogy, and that no more games with Max in them would be made, although the series' universe could live on, again further hinting at a Mona Sax game.

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