The Quarry Review
The Quarry is the latest interactive horror movie from Supermassive Games, the developers of The Dark Pictures Anthology and the much-beloved Until Dawn, which was a favorite among the fans of the sub-genre. I, for one, am a supermassive (heh) fan of the 2015 PS4 classic, and have been waiting for a game that can recreate the success that has eluded them for some time now.
The story of The Quarry is quite simple: On the last day at Hackett’s Quarry, a summer camp, a group of camp counselors find themselves stuck for a night due to a faulty vehicle. The camp leader, Chris Hackett, urges the teens to lock up at the lodge while he looks for help and returns the following morning. Teens, as they do what they do, end up partying the night away, and little do they know that they’ve just walked into “Hunting Season” and an unknown assailant starts to target them one by one.
Personally, this title really got me feeling that Supermassive has returned to form judging from the promotional material as well as the star-studded cast featured in this game. The hope is that it reaches the highs that Until Dawn achieved and avoids many of the pitfalls seen in The Dark Pictures Anthology.
A Slasher By Any Other Name
The Quarry takes after Until Dawn a lot more than any of The Dark Pictures Anthology ever did, with its teen horror premise. The Prologue really nails the setup for the slasher flick it wants to be, making a really good impression.
If you’ve played any of Supermassive Games’ past offerings, you wouldn’t need to use a tutorial to learn the ropes. Using the tried and true formula of involving a bit of exploration paired with quicktime events that add a dash of action, veterans will surely feel at home.
Newcomers will be greeted by tutorials that beg to be seen as they are well done and entertaining by themselves. They’re presented as how-to videos seen in games like Fallout and The Outer Wilds, so there’s some entertainment factor there.
The best part about The Quarry, bar none, is the performances from the cast. Taste is subjective, but I feel that the majority of the actors did a good job with the material that they’ve been given. Both the young actors and the veterans are equally commendable in their collective performance that we receive a believable and overall entertaining show.
If you’re a big horror fan/movie buff, you’ll notice some familiar names led by David Arquette (Scream), Ted Raimi (Ash and The Evil Dead), Grace Zabriskie (Laura Palmer from Twin Peaks), and Lance Henriksen (Aliens and Admiral Hackett in Mass Effect).
On the teens side, you might recognize Brenda Song (London Tipton in Zach and Cody’s The Suite Life), Ariel Winter (Modern Family), and maybe even Justice Smith (The Get Down). Out of these standouts, I would say that any time Siobhan Williams is on screen with Ted Raimi makes for the best scenes in the game.
With their entertaining performances, certain scenes become more heartfelt, funnier, and even intriguing enough to follow. Many of the more exciting scenes, especially in the later chapters of the game, will really make the wait worth it because, as I will explain later, it will take quite a while for The Quarry to find its stride.
Too Much Walking, Too Little Killing
After the really cool Prologue that sets the stage for the entire game, we’re introduced to our ill-fated counselors who, for the most part, are a little more charming than the mean-spirited characters from Until Dawn.
Even when they start doing stupid things, I kinda feel bad for them, being naive teens and all. They really make the best out of the material they’re given, because save for a few really well-written zingers, the dialogue falls a little flat.
The horror aspect of the game feels somewhat watered down mainly because of the simple Quicktime Events and lack of involved gameplay. While Until Dawn probably has some the tightest QTE sequences in the Supermassive library, one thing that it pushes is that edge-of-your-seat tension where characters will succumb to their deaths because of a missed sequence.
In The Quarry, you’ll mostly be holding down the same circle button followed by a directional prompt or mashing the X button to complete a sequence. They change it up with a “Hold Your Breath” sequence where you hold down the X button and wait until there’s an opening to run, and at times, you can also aim and shoot. Yet these sequences are few and far between, lowering the stakes.
This is extremely evident during the first few chapters of the game due to the slow pacing and length of time it takes to really get the meaty parts of the story rolling in. This makes the action quite tedious, especially if you’re used to the more involved QTE sequences of Until Dawn or House of Ashes. While one can argue that it makes up for accessibility to not make it too hard for non-gamers to enjoy, I argue adding a difficulty selection to make it more exciting for experienced players.
Arguably, The Quarry may be the most accessible game in the Supermassive Games’ library of interactive horror. The QTEs are easy, the mechanics aren’t too difficult to pick up, and you’re even given a rewind feature that gives you three lives to dispense to redo your decisions to save the character, even if it means rewinding to a previous chapter to do so.
The Quarry eventually falls into the trap of a lot of walking and exploration. You’ll get a jump scare here or there or maybe even some “disturbing imagery”, but it really isn’t as scary as you would think. The concept sounds really intriguing on paper, but in practice, I felt they could’ve done better on the scares. I personally enjoyed the big reveal on what the creature feature was, and while it didn’t really work out horror-wise, it was entertaining enough to keep me interested.
Just Another Supermassive Game
As explained earlier, for those familiar with the genre, The Quarry doesn’t really innovate too much, using a lot of the mechanics and tricks from previous titles. It feels much closer to Until Dawn than any of The Dark Pictures Anthology games, so that’s definitely a big plus, but the formula is definitely showing its age.
Despite this, The Quarry improves on its borrowed mechanics, such as the Collectibles being more than a Codex page, splitting them into Clues and Evidence, with the latter serving as an important aspect for the ultimate outcome. Also, Premonitions or Totems are revised as Tarot Cards, which will allow you to unlock a future event.
Movie Mode is an option to consider after completing your first run of the game. You will get to view most of the cut scenes including the completed QTE challenges completed, saving you time and allowing you to view the gist of the story in compressed fashion that is best paired with a bowl of popcorn. Couch co-op and online multiplayer (coming soon) are also available to enjoy with friends.
The Quarry is a fantastic-looking piece with great mocap performances and realistic-looking characters, but also suffers from inconsistent lighting and animation issues that take you out of the scene. The worst instance I experienced was certain parts of the character disappearing, breaking the immersion.
No matter how many small changes The Quarry makes to change things up, it’s as close to a spiritual sequel of Until Dawn; down to the running time, which is 7-9 hours long depending on how much you’ve spent exploring. It is about three hours longer than the typical Dark Pictures game, and you’ll be able to extend the game time by trying different iterations either interactively or with movie mode, extending replayability.
What We Liked:
- Character performances from the actors are fantastic
- Movie Mode allows for an extra look without the involvement
- Probably the most accessible title from the devs
What We Didn’t Like:
- Quicktime Events are too simple, removing all tension from the game.
- As a horror game, it’s not too scary
- Inconsistent lighting and glitches are immersion-breaking.
- A tired formula makes it difficult to justify the high price.
Verdict: Wait For It.
When Until Dawn came out back in 2015, it was a breath of fresh air coming from the barrage of titles from Telltale Games. Until Dawn captured lightning in a bottle, and a number of years later, The Quarry fails to do the same.
The Quarry doesn’t hit the same highs, with very simple QTEs and the lack of good and genuine scares that do the game a disservice. It is unfortunate because the star-studded cast delivers the goods but isn’t enough to lift the game to the heights that it aimed to reach.
I commend how The Quarry attempts to stand out with its accessibility and slightly revised mechanics, but for all intents and purposes, it is an overpriced version of Until Dawn. The Supermassive formula is begging for a refresh, and The Quarry is its latest victim.
*The Quarry was reviewed on a PS5 with a review code from the publisher.