Video games are effectively enhanced storytelling tools with great graphics and music, and when it comes to drawing the audience in and making them part of an oftentimes exhilarating and terrifying ride, Supermassive Games have been delivering excellent results with Until Dawn and The Dark Pictures Anthology, consisting of Man of Medan, Little Hope, and the latest entry, House of Ashes. Now, by partnering up with 2K Games, the studio is heading back to more familiar teen-horror territory with The Quarry, the Until Dawn successor many have hoped for, for good or for bad.
If you are unfamiliar with such games, essentially, players become part of an interactive story, making key decisions and dialogue choices, and causing the narrative to branch out in different directions.
In The Quarry, there’s no more travelling to the past or into unknown lands, and the premise is much more straightforward this time around. We join a group of counsellors at the end of summer camp, hoping to leave Hackett’s Quarry behind and get back to their lives. Unfortunately, a selfish decision dooms them all to one more night at the campsite, and it sparks off events that make for one hell of a night.
Needless to say, we want to avoid spoiling the story for everyone eager to experience the game for themselves. Just be prepared for intentionally campy dialogue that somehow works to enhance the immersion of the narrative, surprisingly deep characterisation for some of the cast, and many hairy situations where your timing and smart thinking will save the day. Or if you prefer, go the sadistic route and witness some truly brutal kills.
The Quarry boasts a cast with plenty of star power, with the likes of David Arquette, Ariel Winter, Justice Smith, Brenda Song, Lance Henriksen, Lin Shaye, Ted Raimi, and more lending their likeness and voice to the party. And the performances are pretty memorable, with each character stereotypically fulfilling different archetypes from the horror movie barrel of tropes, but not in an annoying way. They all look really good as well, which is pretty much the standard for these games.
That the story takes a few twists and turns is an understatement, and while the eventual reveal of the mystery at the heart of The Quarry was not as exciting as we had hoped, it still made for good fun. The real satisfaction of it all is how each and every reveal provided new perspectives on past events, and coloured how your future decisions can change the course of the story.
The gameplay is still largely restricted to exploratory sections, plenty of exposition and dialogue here and there, and making decisions when it comes to actions and words. While there are opportunities to affect the relationships between characters, it is not immediately clear how each will eventually affect events in the story, but it does change how characters might react in certain scenes, which could result in a different story altogether.
Of course, action speaks louder than words, and deciding what to do in each moment usually produces more tangible outcomes that might unfold immediately, or build up like a house of cards throughout the game’s 10 chapters before spectacularly falling and hitting players where it hurts, the emotions. It is one thing to be hopeful, but another to have that hope dashed once you realise you have doomed a favourite character due to a seemingly innocuous decision made previously.
Reacting quickly in one situation might be apt, but so is doing nothing in another. Do you hide to avoid detection, or rush head-on to catch somebody off guard? These are all decisions to be made under pressure, and you best be ready for the consequences.
Therein lies the magic formula of The Quarry. The game is telling a story that is driven by player decisions, and players just have no way of determining what their decision or statement might lead to. It engages the player and makes characters as relatable as you want them to be, and ramps up the paranoia as the conclusion draws near.
Should a character perish, the game’s default settings do allow players to utilise a Death Rewind, with up to three per playthrough. This will take things back to the point where making the right decision will keep the character safe, although it must be noted that this might revert your progress to a few scenes earlier, or even entire chapters. A post-launch update is in the works that will inform players just how far back their choice will take them, so use your Rewinds smartly.
As you progress in the game, you might also stumble onto clues and evidence that unravel even more of the mystery happening in Hackett’s Quarry. These additional snippets serve to flesh out the story even more, and can help you decide where to eventually go next when it comes to the next junction. It was also a pleasant surprise how the game rewards your effort for going the extra mile when seeking evidence through a witty credits scene, another smart way of recognising the player while giving the limelight to the folks who made the game possible.
The Quarry features a Tarot Card system as well, through which the enigmatic Eliza can provide a reading should you find a card, foreshadowing certain events to come that you can take part in or avoid. Naturally, that same veil of secrecy remains, and whether it is helpful or not, the player will have to be the judge.
Even if you are not the kind that can withstand pressure, The Quarry is not leaving you out of the fun. There is a couch co-op mode, where control can be passed around two players, or if you much rather munch on popcorn, the Movie Mode features the choices of Everyone Lives, Everyone Dies, or the configurable Director’s Chair mode. The Gorefest addition available via the Deluxe Edition of the game also promises the bloodiest night at Hackett’s Quarry, so players are spoilt for choice.
There is no doubting that The Quarry is an enjoyable ride, particularly so for those that like their horror delivered in such circumstances, but it is not without certain drawbacks. Laying the foundation for the craziness later on is a good way to start, but it can feel kind of draggy for those eager to see action or scares.
The lip-syncing can be a little off at times as well, and there were rare occasions where the sound and the animation did not line up at all. Thankfully, there were no issues when it came to stressful times, so the complaints are minimal. However, if you are the kind that screams at characters for making strange decisions in such harrowing situations, prepare yourself to do so even more. Then again, you already know what you are signing up for, so buy in and enjoy the fun.
By returning to a structure that has made plenty of horror films a hit, Supermassive Games has delivered in trademark fashion with The Quarry. With fun scares, demanding situations, a cast of fun characters, and a narrative that picks up momentum with each passing chapter, there is much to like about this game. Of course, if you were never a fan, it will be hard for The Quarry to convince you otherwise, however, for those that love this kind of thing, this is one rabbit hole you might not want to come out of.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
A return to its roots in some ways, Supermassive Games’ The Quarry is the Until Dawn successor fans have been clamouring for, and it is a bloody delight most of the way through.
Gameplay - 8.5/10
Story - 8.5/10
Presentation - 9/10
Value - 9/10