Our Score: 9/10
For those who are not familiar with Supermassive Games’ work, the studio specializes in making “choose your own adventure” style horror games. Think Give Yourself Goosebumps (or Netflix’s Bandersnatch if you’re young and hip), but as a video game. Continuing their legacy of choice-based horror experiences like Until Dawn and The Dark Pictures Anthology, they’re back with yet next teen slasher, The Quarry.
Nine camp counsellors are about to leave Hackett’s Quarry Summer Camp when they find out that their ride is busted. Stranded for the night, they decide to throw one last party. I mean, what can go wrong. . . . . .right?
As you might expect, it doesn’t take too long before things start going sideways. In true slasher-horror fashion, we see shadowy figures in the trees, stalking our survivors-to-be. Follow that up with a dash of demonic horrors, a mysterious old lady and a pinch of teen drama, and voila! The perfect recipe for one hell of a party.
With 186 different endings, The Quarry is a Supermassive step up (pardon the pun) from the studio’s previous work. Proving to be a return to form for the developer, it is a fitting spiritual successor to Until Dawn. The game puts you on a rollercoaster of near-death experiences as inconceivable horrors befall the characters, inspired by slasher movie themes. The Quarry feels quite at home in this niche, with bad decisions, endearingly awful writing, and typical teen turmoil. I wouldn’t call the game flawlessly polished or free of plotholes at all. But the flaws, whether deliberate or not, feel adorable and natural in the setting of the slasher genre.
Digging Into It
The Quarry is primarily an interactive movie (again, think Bandersnatch), with gameplay-driven key moments that push the plot forward. The majority of the game is made up of unskippable cutscenes and dialogue, where you can make choices that affect relationships, character traits and the ultimate fates of the characters. There’s plenty of exploration, where players can stroll around as one of the counsellors in third-person and look for clues and trinkets that add to the lore.
You can also respond to quick-time events that change the outcome of a scene depending on a binary pass or fail condition. Other instances present you with choices that force the player to choose between two options, often leading to a branching narrative. Outside of these occasions, it mainly consists of watching your decisions unfold, hoping that your favourite characters make it to the end (or in my case, try to kill as many of them as possible).
Get Up and Get Out
Plenty of situations exist where you’ll find yourself on the edge of your seat during quick-time events. Whether it’s one turn that separates life from death, or trying to hide when you’re being chased by some nefarious entity, your choices play a big role in how the story unfolds. However, these QTE seem simpler to follow than those in Until Dawn, and hence much easier to finish. You can even turn them off completely in the Accessibility settings, which is a nice option to have for players who might experience difficulties with response times. Up to eight friends can play the game together, where each of you assigns yourself a character and then controls their destiny.
Mechanical-ity of Movement
There isn’t much else to talk about regarding gameplay. Moments of exploration are a little awkward, possibly on purpose as you try to regulate rigid character movement while shining a not-so-elegantly-controlled torch. Bumping into walls and corners is a regular occurrence while navigating through fixed camera angles with stubborn controls.
It’s not unusual for a horror game to be difficult to play, adding to the sense of powerlessness and discomfort. After all, these are elements that add to the survival part of survival-horror. Supermassive’s games were never known for smooth controls, but even so, we expected The Quarry to be a little better than its predecessors. The camera angles were particularly frustrating at times. It’s debatable whether the lightning (or lack thereof) makes the exploration more enjoyable. It does, however, make things pretty spooky.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream. . . .kind of
There are plenty of horrors in The Quarry to make you anxious, but don’t let that distract you from the picturesque scenery of Hackett’s Quarry. Set against the backdrop of a colorful summer, with warm lighting and soft shadows, the cinematic quality is a joy to behold. It creates the perfect canvas to capture the serene environment before the horrors of the night set in. Even when you’re trying to run from your enemies (and/or friends and/or lovers and/or exes), you’ll find yourself appreciating the beauty that accompanies the anxiety. By and large, this is Supermassive’s best-looking game yet.
Hollywood Stars Shine So Brightly
From David Arquette of the original Scream movies to Ariel Winter of Modern Family fame, The Quarry features a star-studded cast that you’re bound to find recognizable. There’s Brenda Song (Disney – Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Wendy Wu – Homecoming Warrior), Skyler Gisondo (The Amazing Spider-Man, Santa Clara Diet), Ted Raimi (Twin Peaks, Ash VS Evil Dead), Justice Smith (Detective Pikachu) and more. Thanks to such a robust cast, the voice acting in the game is just as phenomenal as you’d expect.
Sadly, this is one of the instances where the writing doesn’t do the acting any favours. Character interactions are constantly treading the line between awkward and downright embarrassing, and the dialogue is, well, silly. However, it does have the charm that we’ve come to expect from the genre and proves to be an enjoyable experience. What can I say, there’s something about stupid dialogues that always makes me chuckle. That’s one thing I loved about Death Stranding too. Remember Mario and Princess Beach? You know you do!
The Quarry – Final Verdict
The Quarry is a love letter to the 80’s slasher-horror films that does a good job of pulling you into its world and mystery. While you may not find yourself invested enough to cry at the characters’ possible demise, but you’re sure to find them entertaining. Supermassive Games have yet again created a gem that will appeal to fans of Until Dawn and games like it. It may not be as good as a game as Until Dawn, but it definitely makes for a better experience.
Do you enjoy old-school slasher movies like Friday the 13th and Halloween? Do you like the idea of playing god and controlling the fate of nine cringe-filled but ultimately likeable teenagers? If yes, you’ll love The Quarry. If not, you might want to hold for now and get it on sale. Either way, it’s a game that should be on your radar.