With The Quarry, Supermassive Games takes us all to Camp and promises a cinematic Summer you’ll never forget. Can this return to big-budget horror prove to be a blockbuster smash or a box office flop?
This is a hefty horror experience with veteran genre star power in the form of David Arquette, Lin Shaye, Lance Henriksen, and Ted Raimi, not to mention a bevy of young Hollywood talents such as Ariel Winter and Justice Smith. As such, The Quarry has been positioned as a big throwback slasher flick that happens to be playable. The experiences gained from Supermassive’s Until Dawn and The Dark Pictures anthology, its previous dalliances in interactive horror, are amassed here in its most high-profile project yet.
After a lengthy prologue teases what’s to come, the story proper begins at the end of the season at Hackett Quarry Camp, as camp counselor Jacob purposefully extends the stay of the counselors just so he can cling to the Summer romance he has with a co-worker Emma.
The head of the camp Mr. Hackett (played by Scream alum David Arquette) is particularly agitated by this news and makes them promise they’ll stay inside the lodge, and lock the doors. Naturally, minutes after his departure, a campfire booze-up is arranged. One particularly volatile game of Truth or Dare later and the gang are suddenly pitched in a battle against hostile forces both man and beast. Can the plucky teens survive until dawn? Well, that’s mostly up to you as you flit between characters throughout the story, and guide the tale how you see fit. Unforeseen consequences are naturally just around the corner of even the smallest player choice.
The Quarry is best placed as a compromise between those who wanted Until Dawn 2, and the rest who have enjoyed The Dark Pictures for its additions to the formula. This is, in all but name, Until Dawn 2 in so many ways. The isolated lodge filled with teens trying to skirt the line between lust and death, the woods full of savage monsters, the two-tiered threat, the premonitions, the ‘host’ that chatters in riddles between chapters, and of course, the fate of the cast in your hands at every step (well, after the first couple of hours at least). On the surface, The Quarry is taking a clear aim at those who wanted a return to the roots of Supermassive Games’ 2015 game.
The 'host' can provide clues if you can find her tarot cards
It does take on board some key improvements thanks to those experiments performed in Dark Pictures games Man of Medan, Little Hope, and House of Ashes. Multiplayer options found in those previous games are also present in The Quarry, and I stand by my original opinion on this addition when Man of Medan came out. It’s massively understated just how much multiplayer adds to Supermassive’s games. The inclusion of a Twitch voting system is also just pitch-perfect for this kind of game. A party game that acts as a watch-along horror movie with added interactivity is a smart play.
Elsewhere, navigating the various handsome avatars is a lot less painful than it used to be. Everything is streamlined for an easier entry point for a more casual, curious audience. QTEs no longer require maddening button combos, and holding your breath in The Quarry doesn’t require you to have the still hands of a psychopath to survive, instead requiring a simple holding of the action button until the bad thing moves off.
What irks me with this streamlining is that it often goes a little too far. At times it feels like Supermassive wants you to revel in its production first and play second. Considering how good The Quarry can look (especially in the darker places, where the character models and animation can be eerily close to reality), it’s very understandable that it would want to linger on that, but the impact of it is far less player control. Yes, there’s a bit of exploration here and there to seek out clues and the tarot cards can help hint at possible fates, and yes, the split choices that show up are pretty frequent and varied, but there’s a significant amount of time spent just watching things play out with little input in your hands. My first playthrough saw no deaths until 5 hours or so in, and then that one was something completely unrelated to my actions. The game constantly hits you with the idea ‘doing something can be as bad as doing nothing and vice-versa’ but rarely goes out of its way to back that up.
Perhaps the biggest issue in that regard comes from the plot, which is perfectly fine on paper, but signposts way too many of its reveals early on. Look, I grew up on slashers and creature features where the plot is secondary, and you know what you’re going to get, but The Quarry does try to steer things away from the cliche, only to land in the pits of predictability anyway. Play this game and tell me you don’t see every one of its major revelations coming early on.
Looking at the other side of that, The Quarry maybe doesn’t need to be surprising on a general story level because it has the flexibility to manipulate its smaller details to the personal whims of fate. It’s set dressing for the most interactive element of the entire game, which is shaping the relationships of the counselors and choosing how badly you wish them to suffer. That was the exquisite thrill of Until Dawn after all. Twists aside, building a connection with characters, both positive and negative, was the key aspect of its success as a horror game, and The Quarry does plenty to make you like or loathe its crew of bright young things.
Sections where you need to hold your breath are tense
The Quarry definitely has a better cast than its spiritual predecessor. The old hands do their thing to at least a solid level, with Lin Shaye and Ted Raimi providing the highest percentage of entertainment, while Lance Henriksen does seem a little like an afterthought. The young guns carry the majority of the game though, and I grew quite attached to Justice Smith’s aloof Ryan, Miles Robbins’ wonderfully deadpan stoner Dylan, Zach Tinker’s sensitive himbo Jacob, and Brenda Song’s sarcastic, mischievous turn as Kaitlyn. Even if I wasn’t as engaged with the characters themselves as the rest, I still cared for Ariel Winter’s Abi and her love woes with Evan Evagora’s Nick. The writing can be a bit patchy, but largely these characters landed pretty damn well for me, and I subconsciously found myself trying to do the best I could for them on the first playthrough.
Streamlined and patchy as The Quarry may be, it’s a largely entertaining experience that just about warrants replay to see other outcomes. The middle section really drags back the pace and feels tedious on a second run, but the wraparound provides the goods for a fun time at camp.
The Quarry is an impressive-looking game with high production values, and it scales down pretty well, even on minimum performance settings. It’s not without graphical issues on occasion, however, and has some alarming pop in on certain scene transitions.
Supermassive Games has provided a host of options to make an already streamlined experience pretty accessible for all. You can change all the usual settings for controls and audio, but there are auto settings and assists for in-game interactions. You can also enjoy The Quarry as a straight-up movie.
THE QUARRY VERDICT
With The Quarry, Supermassive heads back to the woods with mostly positive results. The story is not much to write home about, and the paring back of physical control of characters’ actions leaves some empty spaces. Still, the cast is generally likable, the presentation impressive, and there’s plenty of joy to be found in manipulating the lives of these poor young souls. The Quarry has plenty of thrills, chills, and kills, but also an abundance of filler.
TOP GAME MOMENT
Genuinely getting wrapped up in keeping a character alive and trying to make them the final girl/boy of your own personal horror movie.
Impressive production values
A largely likable cast
Playing horror director is great fun
Works as a party game
Some performance issues
Overly predictable story
Some iffy writing
A bit too hands-off at times