Review – The Quarry
Supermassive Games has made a name for themselves as creators of video games bordering on interactive movies. Their biggest success came from their first outing into this genre, Until Dawn, back in 2015. It was praised by fans and critics alike for its realistic graphics, branching paths, weighted decisions, and B-movie feel. Following the success of Until Dawn, came Until Dawn: Rush of Blood; a criminally underrated VR rail shooter. Next came The Dark Pictures Anthology series, which once again fell into the interactive movie style. Man of Medan was decent, but with some gameplay issues, Little Hope corrected the gameplay issues but botched the narrative, and House of Ashes greatly improved the formula right by having smoother gameplay and a much better story.
As enjoyable as The Dark Pictures Anthology games were, they still weren’t been able to recapture the magic of Until Dawn. Now we have The Quarry, a spiritual successor to Until Dawn. Was it able to follow in the footsteps of greatness like its predecessor?
Supermassive Games has learned a lot about how they want to present their games, and The Quarry is the perfect love letter to the teen horror movie genre. Taking place at Hackett’s Quarry on the last day of summer camp, the game follows a group of teenage camp counselors who are preparing to leave when their van breaks down. Unable to leave the camp until the following day, they decide to have one last hurrah- a party to commemorate their time together, full of booze and mischief. The leader of the camp, Chris, is completely against the idea, but has no other choice but to let them stay. He warns them to stay inside all night and not to leave for any reason until the morning when he’s able to return with help. Since this is your typical horror movie premise, you can imagine how well they follow his advice.
The story in The Quarry is one of the best that Supermassive Games has come up with yet. The beginning might feel a little slow to some, but it’s all in service of allowing us time to really get to know our characters. I was shocked at just how well fleshed out each of the characters in The Quarry are. This made the events that transpire later in the game have even more impact, since after spending so much time with them I found myself genuinely caring about what happened to them. Yes, there are times that they’ll make a stupid decision regardless of what dialogue option you pick, but that’s staying true to horror movie tropes. If everyone thought rationally and did exactly what they were told, it wouldn’t make for a very interesting story, would it?
Each Supermassive game features countless dialogue options for its characters, and The Quarry is no exception. The difference here though is that each of your decisions carry real weight- even when you’re not expecting it. Some of the most seemingly mundane choices and acts can have huge ramifications later on. Throughout conversations between characters, you’ll be able to strengthen or weaken your relationships depending on how you choose to respond. Like the other games, this can greatly alter your various narrative paths, but on a much more drastic scale than ever before. This gives The Quarry a lot of replayability value, since there are one hundred eighty-six endings you can experience. Naturally, most of these will involve only minor differences, but it’s impressive nonetheless.
The gameplay is certainly going to be a point of contention among players. There are QTEs present in The Quarry, but on a much smaller scale. They are nowhere near as frequent as in the other games, and they’re also a lot simpler to complete. In fact, the only time I missed one was in the very beginning, and that was only because I was playing on PlayStation and I thought the prompt indicating to move the joystick was telling me to push the circle button.
I know some people will criticize the casual nature of the QTEs, but honestly, to me they felt the most organic out of all of Supermassive’s games. In earlier games it often felt like the QTEs were shoehorned in as a way to try to keep players engaged. Often times they sprung up lightning fast after long periods of inactivity, catching me completely off guard. Meanwhile in The Quarry, they are usually telegraphed a bit before they pop up. Because of this, I actually felt like I was actively moving the characters in specific ways to avoid harm.
The Quarry also has a unique feature: the Death Rewind. This feature can be unlocked either after completing the game once or by buying the Deluxe Edition, in which case it’s automatically enabled. If one of your characters meets with a grisly fate, the Death Rewind will allow you to travel back to when a decision was made that lead to their death. It sounds good, but it’s definitely not perfect.
For example, if a character dies because you failed a QTE, then you’ll simply go back to the start of the QTE and be able to try again. However, if your character dies because of a decision you made in an previous chapter hours earlier, then you’ll be transported all the way back to that section and you’ll have to replay the game from that point on. Each playthrough will allow up to three Death Rewinds, but honestly I feel like that detracts from the intensity of the game. At that point it just becomes a Marvel movie, where there are no high stakes because no one’s ever really dead.
If this still seems like too much of a challenge, or you just want to completely shut your brain off, then you can select the Movie Mode. As the name suggests, this essentially turns The Quarry into a movie by completely removing all of the gameplay. There are four options to choose from in movie mode: Everyone Lives, Everyone Dies, Director’s Chair, and Gorefest. The first two are self-explanatory, but the others are more interesting. Director’s Chair will allow you alter some of each character’s personality traits, making for a uniquely tailored viewing experience. Gorefest will show you the story paths that result in the most brutal deaths. Like the Death Rewind feature, this is only unlocked after beating the game or buying the Deluxe Edition.
Truthfully, I can see why someone would want to simply sit back and watch The Quarry as a movie experience. It’s absolutely gorgeous. Supermassive has refined their motion capture technology and animations to the point where most of the game looks realistic. There were several times that I actually forgot I was playing a video game because of how realistic everything looks. The only issues I found were with the character’s eyes, which occasionally looked too far below their intended focal point, and the fact that the camera kept going in and out of focus at times. I’m not sure if this was an intentional choice to mimic shoddy camerawork of teen horror films, but it was a little distracting at times.
The Quarry also offers a pretty neat little optional feature: cinematic filters. These alter the look of the game in a few different ways. You can play the game as is with no filter, or you can choose between Indie Horror, 80s Horror, or Classic Horror. Indie Horror replicates an 8mm-style film grain and makes the colors appear much more saturated. 80s Horror utilizes a VHS aesthetic and makes the details less crisp. Classic Horror allows you to experience the game in black-and-white. The 80s Horror was my personal favorite, and really makes it feel like you’re watching a movie instead of playing a game. This is also available after beating the game or purchasing the Deluxe Edition.
The sound design is outstanding in every aspect. Every actor in The Quarry is well cast and gives their performances the energy needed for this type of story. There’s several big names inhere as well, such as David Arquette, Ted Raimi, Lin Shaye, and Lance Henriksen (although honestly, I would have loved to have seen more of Lin Shay and Lance Henriksen). Surprisingly, it’s actually the younger talent who really steals the show. Each of the actors cast as the counselors nailed their roles. They all felt like genuine people and their banter sounded extremely natural. Pair that with a soundtrack ripped straight out of a teen horror flick- equal parts lighthearted and ominous- and you’ve got a game that’s guaranteed to hold your attention.
Supermassive Games has been constantly perfecting their formula and now they’ve delivered something great. The Quarry is without a doubt their best game to date. The story unravels at a good pace and will keep you guessing until the very end. All the main characters are given good screen time (unless they die early) and are fleshed out surprisingly well. Even though The Quarry offers less gameplay than some of the other Supermassive titles, this is the first game where the QTEs actually felt like they were a natural part of the story. The Quarry was a delight from start to finish, and I cannot recommend it enough. Whether you’re a veteran gamer, a casual player, or even just a horror movie enthusiast, there’s something for everyone to love in The Quarry.
The graphics are so realistic that I often forgot I was playing a game. The only issue was with character’s eyes occasionally looking too far below their intended target.
There’s no challenging gameplay here, but that actually works in its favor. There are a few simple QTEs, but they feel much more organic than in Supermassive’s other games. The Quarry is very much an interactive movie, where your dialogue choices greatly affect the outcome of the story.
Stellar performances all around, with a soundtrack that sets the stage for the creepiness of the events taking place.
Fun Factor: 9.0
The perfect balance between cutescenes, dialogue choices, and QTEs to let the story unfold at a good pace while still feeling like an active participant. The characters are well fleshed out and the story is captivating.
Final Verdict: 9.0
The Quarry is available now on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series S/X.
Reviewed on PS5.
A copy of The Quarry was provided by the publisher.