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 rather big, bloodstained boots to fill. Like its predecessor, The Quarry bills itself as an interactive teen slasher movie. It’s a label that the game proudly wears on its torn sleeve, not shying away from the tried and true tropes of the popular horror subgenre.
The setting of Hackett’s Quarry - a summer camp located in the backwoods of upstate New York - is immediately evocative of Friday the 13th. And that’s totally by design. Our nine unlucky teenage campers find themselves struggling to survive unspeakable horrors of all kinds as an impromptu final night of partying goes deathly south.
The name of the game becomes a perfect synonym, then. It’s not only the backdrop, but what our protagonists become over the course of the narrative. They’re being hunted, and it’s your quick wits and decision making that’ll help them stick it 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
- Release 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 narrative, The Quarry risks coming across as trite and unfulfilling. After all, many of the main characters fit typical horror tropes. There’s the cocksure jock, the shy introvert, and the well-reasoned, cautious type – the triumvirate that fill out many a slasher flick.
Thankfully, The Quarry isn’t content with leaving things at that. For the most part, it builds its characters well above those archetypal foundations to create a group that’s likable, unpredictable and at times fairly nuanced.
That’s thanks in no small part to the solid script, but also surprisingly excellent performances from The Quarry’s ensemble cast of Hollywood talent. Actors including Ariel Winter, Brenda Song, Justice Smith and Miles Robbins give wonderfully believable turns as carefree teenagers well out of their depth. Meanwhile, veteran stars like Ted Raimi, Lance Henriksen and Lin Shaye portray marvelously creepy characters whose motives remain mysterious for a large chunk of the story.
Special mention, though, has to go to Grace Zabriskie, playing a wonderfully off-kilter fortune teller, Eliza, who you’ll visit between chapters. Her role is somewhat analogous to that of Peter Stormare’s character from Until Dawn – albeit less judgmental of your decisions and more foreboding when it comes to how events might play out.
Eliza’s role in the narrative ties into one of The Quarry’s many types of collectible: tarot cards. Throughout the game, you can find a total of 22 of these cards strewn throughout the environment, one for each major arcana in a typical tarot deck.
When you visit Eliza at the close of a chapter, she’ll allow you to choose one found tarot card to witness a future event in the story. These moments are brief, but can offer clues as to how you can use certain items you find, or avoid a grisly death befalling one of the teen counselors.
Speaking of collectibles, it’s not just tarot cards you’ll be scouring environments for. There are all manner of objects tucked away across the breadth of Hackett’s Quarry. These items will expand the lore of The Quarry, or better yet, can enable you to discover decisions or plot threads that wouldn’t have occurred otherwise.
As such, anytime you gain full control of a counselor, that’s your cue to search each area thoroughly. And while missing collectibles can be frustrating, they’re a strong incentive for completionists to replay The Quarry and explore alternative story paths.
These boots weren't made for walkin'
Frustratingly, on-foot controls in The Quarry share many of the same setbacks as Until Dawn. Outside of action scenes, character movement is fairly slow. You can speed up ever so slightly thanks to a dedicated ‘power walk’ button, but this ponderous pace can make combing each area for secrets a laborious task, especially when moving up or down stairs, which is unnecessarily glacial.
General navigation can also feel quite stiff and sluggish. Fixed camera angles ensure the game’s cinematography is on point, but mean it’s all too common to have your character become awkwardly caught on a piece of scenery you may not have seen. And in an unusual touch of realism, your character won’t just turn on a dime.
Compounding the problems with motor control are the prompts to examine objects in the environment, which can be finicky. You’ll occasionally be standing over or near an item of interest, yet no prompt will appear. In such cases, you’ll need to fidget your character around until the prompt shows up. It doesn’t happen often, but can slash the tension when it does.
By and large, though, these control issues are salvaged by their responsiveness in other areas. In particular, the action-heavy set pieces and other contextual quicktime events feel much more polished. And as a result, the steady flow of the story is kept intact when it matters most.
On the topic of such set pieces, these broadly take movement controls away from your character in favor of quicktime events. These are wholly unintrusive, and contextually make sense with whatever’s happening on-screen. There’ll also be times when you need to aim and shoot a weapon in the allotted time, or hold your breath to avoid a lurking threat. Such scenarios aren’t terribly difficult, but are nonetheless incredibly tense.
Walk the Path
The final, but perhaps most crucial element of control lies in The Quarry’s decision making. You’ll often be presented with two choices as to 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 feature, and is comparable to Until Dawn’s butterfly effect.
Certain decisions may seem insignificant at first, but can come back to either benefit or bite you much later in the story. The weightiest 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 on by default, and allows you to retry a segment in order to save that character’s life. However, I’d highly recommend switching this feature off for your first playthrough. While literally a lifesaver on repeat playthroughs, I felt it somewhat cheapened the experience of the first blind run if I could simply alter a character’s grisly fate on the fly.
The Path Chosen segments are recorded in their own section of the pause menu, and are all charmingly represented by schlocky VHS box art depicting the characters and events of the game. These will update periodically as you progress, serving as a reminder of how your earliest choices impacted events much later in the story.
A location to die for
Spearheading The Quarry’s filmic presentation are undoubtedly the exceptional visuals. Environments are as stunning as they are atmospheric. From sweeping lakeside vistas to little touches like light particles flittering through a sun-soaked cabin, almost every area you visit in The Quarry is packed with detail.
Characters are remarkably photorealistic, but rarely – if ever – stray into uncanny valley territory. Reactions and facial expressions appear natural, and little flourishes like furrowed brows and puckered lips really help flesh out characters in non-verbal ways.
Being an interactive slasher flick, you’d also expect The Quarry to be overflowing with buckets of blood and gore. On that front, the game doesn’t disappoint, and the small touches here really help to ground The Quarry firmly in its schlocky roots.
If you love 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 Until Dawn’s unpredictable footsteps, it’s able to surpass its predecessor with aplomb – despite the control issues that continue to haunt its developer.
It’s certainly not for the squeamish or easily startled, but The Quarry is a superbly refreshing take on the studio’s narrative-driven formula, and will have you clawing back to be murdered once again, even after the credits roll.