Despite drawing inspiration from the best horror of the eighties, The Quarry takes place in the modern-day. You take control of a group of camp counsellors who decide to stay on for an extra night at Hackett’s Quarry, following their duties as camp leaders during the summer. A lot of bad stuff goes down, and things eventually unravel as alliances are tested, and things aren’t quite all that they seem. As with other Supermassive games, you’ll have to do your best to try and keep everyone alive and, as always, sometimes doing nothing is just as valid as a response as making a choice.
You’ve probably already got an idea of what to expect from The Quarry. Suppose you’ve played any of Supermassive’s previous output, whether it be Until Dawn or The Dark Pictures games. In that case, there’s not a lot that’s changed here. An interactive drama of sorts, you’re tasked with making decisions and guiding your characters (ideally) through to the credits of the story. Every decision you make, no matter how innocuous, will usually affect how things play out. Like those that came before it, The Quarry tells a completely self-contained story, so you don’t have to play Until Dawn or any other games to appreciate it. It’s a very simple-to-play experience that I adore sharing with friends, no matter their skill level.
While the story is the focus here, I’m wholly divided by it. Last month I was able to play a segment of the game and was excited to see how each character played into the mystery and just what the mystery was. I think that mystery wraps up nicely in the end – there’s nothing I was unclear on as the credits rolled – but I’d felt like I’d seen this story so many times before. That’s not to say it’s a bad story, I enjoyed the journey it took me on, but given Supermassive’s pedigree, I can’t help but feel they’d played it safe. I found beauty in the simplicity of Until Dawn seven years ago, but in the time since then, so much has happened in the genre. Even in the wake of Supermassive’s own Dark Pictures games, The Quarry feels almost pedestrian.
The most remarkable aspect of The Quarry that no other medium can ever accurately reproduce is how choices affect how the story plays out. As I mentioned previously, seemingly innocuous choices you make throughout the story may have instant consequences or latent ones much later in the game. Choosing to break into a cabin to get your belongings early on out of pure laziness might mean that same door won’t lock later on. Choosing to defend yourself in a fight (rather than run) might see your character mess up and die or cause a chain of events to get another character killed.
The choices you make aren’t ever visually documented in a way as simple as games like Detroit: Become Human did it, but I’d argue that’s because the consequences are so much more multi-faceted. A nice touch is that, at any point, you can pause and browse each of the “paths” you’ve chosen. They’re styled as old-school VHS horror films, and while they don’t show you the path you didn’t take, they do give some clues as to how each of your choices might have interacted with each other.
There were so many moments in The Quarry where I’d have this moment of realisation. This mental backtracking is where I realise how my actions have affected the result I’d come to. None of them ever feel unfair or unwarranted. Still, hindsight is always 20/20, so it’s perhaps I’m overcompensating for my own biases.
The main collectible in The Quarry is Tarot cards. At the end of each chapter, you’ll be able to give them to Eliza. She’s a fortune teller played by Grace Zabriskie, who plays a similar role to the psychiatrist from Until Dawn or the Curator from Dark Pictures. You can give her a tarot card on each visit, and in exchange, she’ll give you a short vision of the future. You’ll see a small piece of vision play out that’ll show you a character potentially dying in a future chapter. Of course, armed with this knowledge, you can attempt to avoid it, though the right way to do so isn’t always the obvious one.
I talked previously about how I felt that The Quarry was playing it a bit too safe, and I think that way, especially with the quick-time events. They’ve been grossly oversimplified in The Quarry (compared to Until Dawn and Dark Pictures). Most of them involve either moving the stick in a direction, mashing A, or holding A. There’s no mix-up to the buttons you have to press. Just putting these words to paper, I realise some might prefer that, but it meant that I almost knew what was coming whenever a more tense sequence started playing.
This is a shame because the accessibility options that The Quarry provides do a great job at adjusting the experience so that everyone can enjoy it. The difficulty and timing of the quick-time events and other aspects of the game can be adjusted to ensure that those who are naturally slower to react can still enjoy the game properly. I can appreciate this move towards accessibility, but at the same time it feels like, as a result, almost all of the challenge evaporates.
The breadth of multiplayer options returns from previous Supermassive games and, as always, is a welcome addition. Couch co-op is a blast and allows you to add as many characters as you want to each player in the room with you. While I will continue to enjoy this mode, it feels like each character has a different amount of screentime so some players might naturally be left playing less. I don’t know what the perfect solution is – but even a percentage indicator to indicate how much each character appears in the script, or something, would do wonders. In my session, I found myself selecting two characters who got the most runtime, so it felt like I was playing for most of the time.
Other ways to experience the story are also appreciated. Movie Mode allows players to just watch the story play out as film but choose whether everyone dies or lives. There’s another third option here – where you can adjust the individual personality of each character and just watch things play out too. This mode is a nice touch for those who want to see how things might play out without committing to a full playthrough, but it’d be so much better if (like a movie) we had ways to fast-forward it.
Of course, there is an online mode coming too, so if your current situation prevents you from catching up with your mates physically, hold out until that functionality is patched in sometime next month.
So is The Quarry scary? I’m hesitant to say so. While I derided Little Hope for incessantly throwing jump scares at the player, I adored House of Ashes for its restraint and the way it built tension. The Quarry doesn’t really do either – it feels more like a mystery thriller with a psychotic third act rather than a full-blown horror experience. That being said, some incredibly Gorey (and notably tense) sequences play out here, so it’s most certainly not for the squeamish. Stylistically, I adore how the creatures in this game “appear,” though I won’t say much more so as not to give away. So is it scary? Not outwardly, but it sure is tense.
As a whole, the entire cast turns in a decent performance. There were so many standouts here that I couldn’t possibly list them all, though my favourite was easily Lin Shaye as Constance. She plays so against type here that it felt a shame to see her relegated to so little screentime in the big scheme of things. I get it – this is a big cast – but so many of the older celebrities especially were more or less glorified cameos who showed up and then disappeared for a while. In particular, David Arquette is just playing a slightly savvier version of Dewey from Scream. However, this might be intentional given that a very similar tune plays when he’s on-screen in The Quarry as when he’s on-screen in Scream.
It doesn’t have to be said either. The Quarry is a stunning game and easily the best looking out of the Supermassive catalogue. So many times, I’d pause and be shocked that I was watching a game rather than a film. A few characters, especially Laura, have some facial animations that cross the uncanny valley a little bit too often. Still, on the whole, The Quarry is immaculately presented.
THE PC VERSION WAS PLAYED FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS REVIEW. A DIGITAL COPY OF THE GAME WAS PROVIDED BY THE PUBLISHER.
All in all, The Quarry is an intriguing story that’s paced well and is tense from beginning to end, aside from a middle chapter that drags. I wouldn't go as far as to say I didn't enjoy it because I did. It feels like such an oversimplification of everything that Supermassive has achieved so far. I can’t see it as standing above their pedigree in many respects.