Time played: 12 hours
Platform: PC (via Steam)
As the spiritual successor to 2015’s PS4 hit Until Dawn, Supermassive Games’ The Quarry has some pretty big, bloodstained shoes to fill. Like its predecessor, The Quarry calls itself an interactive teen slasher film. It’s a label the game wears proudly on its ripped sleeve and doesn’t shy away from the tried and true tropes of the popular horror sub-genre.
The setting of Hackett’s Quarry – a summer camp in upstate New York – is immediately reminiscent of Friday the 13th. And that’s all because of the design. Our nine hapless teenage campers struggle to survive unspeakable horrors of all kinds as an impromptu final night of partying deadly heads south.
The name of the game then becomes a perfect synonym. It’s not just the background, but what our protagonists become over the course of the story. They’re hunted, and it’s your quick wits and decision-making that will help them hold out, or meet a sticky end.
The Quarry price and release date
- What is it? An interactive horror adventure from the minds behind Until Dawn
- Publication date: June 10, 2022
- What can I play it on? PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC
- Price: $69.99 / £69.99 / AU$89.99
With a little help from my friends
As a character-driven story, The Quarry threatens to come across as trite and unsatisfactory. After all, many of the main characters fit into typical horror styles. There’s the confident jock, the shy introvert, and the well-reasoned, cautious type—the triumvirate that fills many a slasher movie.
Fortunately, The Quarry does not leave it at that. For the most part, it builds its characters way above those archetypal foundations to create a group that is likeable, unpredictable, and at times quite nuanced.
That’s thanks in no small part to the solid script, but also to surprisingly excellent performances from The Quarry’s ensemble cast of Hollywood talent. Actors like Ariel Winter, Brenda Song, Justice Smith and Miles Robbins give wonderfully believable twists and turns as carefree teenagers far out of their depths. Meanwhile, veteran stars like Ted Raimi, Lance Henriksen and Lin Shaye portray wonderfully scary characters whose motives remain mysterious for much of the story.
However, special mention must go to Grace Zabriskie, who plays a wonderful, strange fortune teller, Eliza, who you will visit between chapters. Her role is somewhat analogous to Peter Stormare’s character from Until Dawn – albeit less judgmental about your decisions and more foreboding when it comes to how events might turn out.
Eliza’s role in the story ties into one of The Quarry’s many types of collectibles: tarot cards. Throughout the game, you can find a total of 22 of these cards throughout the environment, one for each major arcana in a typical tarot deck.
When you visit Eliza at the end of a chapter, she lets you choose a found tarot card to witness a future event in the story. These moments are brief, but can provide clues about how to use certain items you find, or how to avoid a horrific death that befalls one of the teenage counselors.
Speaking of collectibles, it’s not just tarot cards that you look for environments. There are all kinds of objects tucked away across the width of Hackett’s Quarry. These items will expand the knowledge of The Quarry, or better yet, allow you to discover decisions or plot discussions that would not have happened otherwise.
Any time you take full control of a rescuer, that’s your cue to thoroughly search each area. And while missing collectibles can be frustrating, they’re a strong incentive for completionists to replay The Quarry and explore alternate story paths.
These boots are not made for walking
Frustratingly, the foot service in The Quarry shares many of the same setbacks as Until Dawn. Outside of action scenes, the character movement is quite slow. You can speed up a tiny bit thanks to a dedicated ‘powerwalk’ button, but this heavy pace can make scouring every area in search of secrets a tedious task, especially when going up or down stairs, which are unnecessarily icy.
General navigation can also feel quite stiff and sluggish. Fixed camera angles ensure that the game’s cinematography is perfect, but it’s all too common for your character to be awkwardly captured in a landscape you may not have seen. And with an unusual touch of realism, your character won’t turn a dime just like that.
The motor control problems are compounded by the prompts to examine objects in the environment, which can be finicky. You will occasionally hover over or near an item of interest, but no prompt will appear. In such cases, you have to fiddle with your character until the prompt appears. It doesn’t happen often, but can ease the tension when it does.
In general, however, these control problems are saved by their responsiveness in other areas. The action-heavy set pieces and other contextual quicktime events, in particular, feel a lot more polished. And as a result, the steady flow of the story remains intact when it matters most.
As for such set pieces, they broadly take the motion controls away from your character in favor of quicktime events. These are not obtrusive at all and make contextually logical with what is happening on the screen. There will also be times when you need to aim and fire a weapon within the allotted time, or hold your breath to avoid a lurking threat. Such scenarios are not terribly difficult, but are nevertheless incredibly tense.
Walk the path
The last, but arguably most crucial element of control lies in The Quarry’s decision-making. You are often presented with two choices of how to respond to something or how to act in the moment. Many of these decisions activate the Path Chosen system. That’s The Quarry’s branching narrative function, and it’s similar to Until Dawn’s butterfly effect.
Certain decisions may seem insignificant at first, but can come back later in the story to benefit you or bite you. The toughest decisions and failed QTEs can lead to a character’s death. Such events can be undone by The Quarry’s new Death Rewind feature, which is enabled by default, and allows you to retry a segment to save that character’s life. However, I strongly recommend that you disable this feature before your first playthrough. While it was literally a lifesaver on repeated playthroughs, I felt it made the first blind run experience slightly cheaper if I could simply change a character’s eerie fate.
The Path Chosen segments are included in their own section of the pause menu and are all charmingly rendered by schlocky VHS box art depicting the characters and events of the game. These are regularly updated as you progress, serving as a reminder of how your earliest choices affected events much later in the story.
A location to die for
Spearhead The cinematic presentation of The Quarry is undoubtedly the exceptional images. Environments are as stunning as they are atmospheric. From sweeping vistas along the lake to tiny details like light particles fluttering through a sun-drenched cabin, almost every area you visit in The Quarry is packed with detail.
Characters are remarkably photo-realistic, but rarely – if ever – stray into eerie valley terrain. Reactions and facial expressions seem natural, and small outbursts like furrowed eyebrows and puckered lips really help to shape characters in non-verbal ways.
Since it’s an interactive slasher movie, you’d also expect The Quarry to be overflowing with buckets of blood and gore. In that regard, the game doesn’t disappoint, and the little touches here really help to anchor The Quarry firmly in its schlocky roots.
If you like games that prioritize an interactive narrative experience, The Quarry is a must-play. Not only is Supermassive’s latest game more than capable of following in the unpredictable footsteps of Until Dawn, it’s also capable of surpassing its predecessor with confidence – despite the control issues that continue to haunt the developer.
It’s certainly not for the squeamish or easily startled, but The Quarry is an extremely refreshing take on the studio’s story-driven formula, and will have you clawing back to be killed again even after the credits roll.