Update: The Death Rewind feature discussed in this review is available from the start for players of The Quarry’s deluxe edition, but is only unlocked for standard version players after finishing the game’s story once.
When Supermassive Games released Until Dawn in 2015, it catapulted the UK-based developer into the spotlight. Allowing players to control the cast of a teen slasher flick, the title introduced what were fairly unique mechanics at the time, with quick-time events and a multilinear narrative that played like an interactive movie. The Quarry is the spiritual successor to Until Dawn and returns to the theme of a campy 80s teen horror film.
The Quarry recounts one horrifying night in the lives of nine counselors at a summer camp called Hackett’s Quarry, an appropriately eerie and isolated locale in the middle of a forest. As with previous Supermassive titles, the cast of The Quarry consists of a number of well-known horror film veterans like Lance Henriksen, David Arquette, Lin Shaye, and Ted Raimi, and along with the satisfyingly spooky setting, the voice acting is one of the highlights of the game.
As with Supermassive’s previous interactive horror titles, this latest release can be completed in 8 to 10 hours. That’s for a single playthrough, though, and the developer has stated that The Quarry has nearly 200 endings and countless branching paths. There is also a movie mode, which allows people to view the game as if it really were a movie, with scenarios playing out from predefined outcomes. Couch co-op lets a group of up to four friends enjoy the game together by passing the controller around, and the game’s delayed online multiplayer mode is slated for an early July release.
Supermassive hasn’t introduced any major advances in gameplay with The Quarry, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing because the formula has proven successful thus far. Likewise, in a game that’s more akin to a movie with minimal user interaction, it’s imperative that the story be engrossing enough to carry the viewer through to the end. Thankfully, this is one of Supermassive’s strong suits that continues with The Quarry.
That’s not to say that the game’s story is groundbreaking or astounding in any way. The premise becomes apparent rather quickly, but it is a fun twist on an established horror trope that’s delivered in a way that will hold most players’ interests. It’s sufficiently thrilling to keep many horror fans entertained till the end, with a few gratifying jump scares tossed in. Like many slasher flicks, The Quarry introduces the standard collection of stereotyped youths. Although not particularly creative in their presentation, the decent character development will result in many gamers feeling at least a little invested in the cast’s fates.
A persistent shortcoming of Supermassive’s horror games has been the uncanny valley character animations, which are unfortunately still present in The Quarry. While each new release shows an improvement in graphics overall, the characters’ puppet eyes, overly mobile faces, and unnatural mouth movements are still off-putting and constantly break immersion. In fact, some people feel that as the graphics have gotten better in Supermassive’s games, character animations have correspondingly become more disconcerting. It’s disappointing to see that not much progress has been made in this aspect of the developer’s tech.
As for the creatures in The Quarry, they are the least impressive of Supermassive’s lineup so far. That doesn’t mean they aren’t jaw-dropping when first encountered, but they can’t compete with Until Dawn’s unforgettable Wendigo or the splendidly designed Vampires from House of Ashes. Those beasts frighten and intrigue even as the games progress, whereas the thing in The Quarry loses some of its fear factor fairly quickly. In the shadows at the beginning of the game, the creature is enjoyably frightening, but once seen in full light, the player will realize that it’s not particularly scary or distinctive.
The type of games created by Supermassive perhaps fall into the “like it or don’t” category. Despite the mystery the developer instills into the narratives, some people simply won’t be attracted to “playing” what is essentially a movie with occasional button prompts. That said, viewed from another perspective, the games might appeal to non-gamers precisely because successful completion doesn’t require a lot of skill or agility with a controller.
That brings up the accessibility options in The Quarry, which let gamers simplify QTEs or adjust their completion window, change button mashing to a simple hold or tap, and turn on aim assist. There are also color blind settings and Open Dyslexic font for subtitles. Another feature introduced in The Quarry is Death Rewind, which gives players a total of three chances to try again if a character is eliminated. This reverts the game to the scene that ultimately led to the death and results in a loss of all progress made after that point, which could be a few scenes or entire chapters. Death Rewind will be a welcome addition for some players nevertheless.
Even without these adjustments, Supermassive seems to have tweaked the gameplay to make it easier in general. There’s no more need to precisely line up a shot inside a target, and the timing to get things right when firing a gun feels more generous. This lessening of difficulty has been noticed in previous releases as well, and some people consider it a reason why The Dark Pictures Anthology doesn’t measure up to Until Dawn. Perhaps a better decision would have been to keep the higher difficulty with more demanding QTEs and allow people to adjust the intensity via game settings. As is, even the unaltered base difficulty of The Quarry may not feel challenging enough to some.
The game also offers full controller support on PC, including vibrations that provide helpful feedback during interactive moments. However, using a controller on PC proved problematic because the interface constantly reverted to keyboard prompts. This made it difficult to land those initial QTE actions because the correct buttons weren’t displayed onscreen, leaving the player to frantically guess what to press. Hopefully, this is a minor wrinkle that can be quickly ironed out by the developers.
There are also some continuity issues in the game, such as how Jacob can carry items when he is wearing only underwear, or why an elaborate barricade disappears mid-game with no explanation. With a style that focuses on realism in graphics and animations, it becomes even more jarring when other things aren’t similarly realistic. Even the characters’ descriptions of the creatures don’t match what is actually seen in-game, making one wonder if perhaps the design was altered without corresponding changes to the script. These oddities lead to random puzzling moments that at least temporarily affect that necessary suspension of disbelief.
In this same vein are the sometimes nonsensical actions of the characters. Even if they are teenagers, this group makes some questionable choices that defy logic at times. For example, after the first attack, they gather around outside to have inconsequential discussions, including a quick sketch session, rather than immediately retreat to a relatively safer location indoors. They constantly venture out to go on excursions that could probably wait until daylight hours. Sure, some of these things are necessary for the story – it wouldn’t be that interesting if the game was about a scared group huddled inside for eight hours – but it’s more difficult to feel bad about somebody coming to a horrifying end when it’s due to poor decision-making.
The Quarry is predominantly a successful offering from Supermassive, with a satisfying amount of scares paired with recurring weak points from previous titles that slightly mar the experience. The positives far outweigh the negatives, however, and the game will no doubt please fans of the genre with its fun though not entirely innovative story. The Quarry fully delivers on its promise of a campy horror experience and is one of the best titles from the developer since Until Dawn.
The Quarry releases for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S on June 10, 2022. Game Rant was provided a PC code for this review.
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