Developer: Supermassive Games
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X (Reviewed)
Release Date: Available Now
Price: $69.99 USD – Available Here $109.95 AUD – Available Here
When Supermassive Games debuted their first interactive horror story Until Dawn they captured the hearts of many fans of the genre by offering something a bit different. Characters could live or die depending on player choice and how quick they are with quick time events and a few other factors. After seeing success with Until Dawn, they stepped into an anthology of smaller horror titles in the form of the Dark Pictures games and while they ranged in quality they saw various improvements and refinements to the formula. Now the team is back with a new large scale standalone entry in the form of The Quarry. Centered once again around teenagers trying to survive a dangerous and unknown situation, Supermassive Games returns to their roots and manages to succeed in offering a new and enticing horror entry that lives up to their reputation.
Spoilers: Below Gameplay Features Full Game Walkthrough
With a mysterious and worrisome prologue setting the mood right from the beginning, players join The Quarry at the end of summer camp. The final day has arrived and all of the children have already been sent back home on a bus with only the camp counselors and owner of the camp still left at Hackett’s Quarry. The owner, Chris Hackett, is worried about making sure that every counselor is out of the area before the end of the day to the point that he grows incredibly frustrated and worried once their minivan breaks down right before everyone is set to leave. With a warning to the rest of the counselors that they must stay inside and stay quiet, Chris leaves saying that he will be back in the morning with help.
Of course, being teenagers at the end of a long summer break, the counselors want to make the most out of their final day and choose to hold a bonfire party out in the woods instead with even the most reluctant member of the group choosing to go along with their plans regardless of what the player decides. With booze, plenty of shotgun ammo, and maybe some fireworks to go around it may seem like this party is going to be a blowout but once tensions are raised among the group and they begin to splinter off, these counselors quickly find out that this party might just be their last.
Exactly what type of horrors these young adults will be facing goes into spoiler territory even if things are hinted at quite early but it must be said that The Quarry does a satisfying job keeping players guessing as to what may happen next. Could this path lead towards a death or something willing to help out? More often than not trying to find out more about what is happening in the camp is always a good thing but not everything is always as it seems and even a safe route can be just as deadly as the obviously dangerous one. By building up surprising twists and offering satisfying pay-offs to player choice, players will find that the writing for The Quarry is incredibly strong, with a solid and interesting plot that constantly has players guessing who or what may be friend or foe and whether their choices are correct or not.
After the tone setting prologue The Quarry actually begins by working through its story in a fairly slow burn. This is done to try and introduce players to the various characters that they will be trying to help survive through the night. Nearly all of them come across as various teen horror archetypes to the point that the game flat out starts referencing various classic 80s horror movies at points. This slow start can be a bit rough as players are slowly uncovering clues that something strange may be happening in the woods. That being said, it does offer some payoff as most of the characters start to come into their own and show development as the night progresses and a few even reveal how they simply are putting up a front while others are just as simple as they seem.
Of course, thanks to the game offering so many options for player choice and a large number of characters being able to die fairly early on into The Quarry, whether or not players actually get to see most of the story or certain scenes can vary wildly between playthroughs. Making it through with everyone alive may offer the most story reveals but can also deprive players from some unique interactions that only can be seen should a counselor meet their demise, end up taking a completely different path entirely, or having something else happen to them that we can’t spoil here. This type of variability is a joy to see and perhaps offers some of the most variables in a Supermassive game yet but it still retains an issue that persists throughout every game they have developed so far, unskippable dialogue. While this makes sense during an initial playthrough or for scenes yet unseen by the player it is disappointing that some of the lengthier conversations cannot be fast-forwarded through upon subsequent playthroughs.
It is also worth noting that players can once again find various collectibles scattered throughout each chapter as they play. These help unveil extra bits of worldbuilding and, if enough are found, can reveal additional information about each other when matching clues are located. In a bit of a new offering, players can find evidence as well that may help prove that their story is true once the night has come to an end and it can change the ending slightly depending on how much is located.
The Quarry’s take on storytelling proves that Supermassive still has plenty to offer even when it comes to crafting larger experiences. With plenty of satisfying twists and reveals, characters that feel like they fit right into a horror movie including a few that grow throughout their journey, and enough variability to warrant more than one playthrough, this story is one that will keep players guessing about their choices all the way through the final chapter.
As per usual with Supermassive Games’ horror titles, players will be tasked with controlling a number of characters though this time around it is the largest roster yet. This allows for quite a bit of variety, as long as they stay alive of course, as players swap from location to location around the camp as the group breaks apart from one another. There are moments of exploration where players can investigate their surroundings, uncovering clues, pieces of evidence, or even tarot cards before finding themselves either dropped into a dialogue sequence or an action based cutscene. These tarot cards work similar to “totems” and “pictures” in past entries by giving players previews of an event that may happen in the future though occasionally these visions are limited to only one per chapter, meaning that should two or more tarot cards be found, only one possible future can be previewed.
Dialogue decisions are fewer this time around and players must pick between two options always though a new type of interaction has been added this time around. These come in the form of “interrupts” that give the player the choice of making an action, or not, within a certain time frame. Occasionally these interruptions are the right thing to do while other times they will have dire consequences so players will need to be wary here. Also included are combat sequences that have players needing to wield a shotgun to aim and fire at targets. While there is a tutorial of sorts offered, players can choose to have some aim-assist should they need it.
Perhaps the biggest change to their standard formula comes in the form of the “hold your breath” sequences. Rather than matching the heartbeat rhythm like their Dark Pictures titles or not moving from Until Dawn, The Quarry now asks for players to hold down A to hold a character’s breath and wait until danger has seemingly passed before letting go of the button. This can be indicated by a red aura appearing near the edge of the screen but players who let go too early or hold their breath too long that they gasp for air can be caught just as easily despite this new method.
Of course, should players want a bit of an easier experience The Quarry offers the most accessibility options yet. Not only can players make use of a “3 Lives” system once they either have completed the game once or purchased the deluxe version of the game that allows users to rewind to a choice that led to a character’s death three times in one playthrough, but it also offers a number of options that make the game easier for newcomers or those who want a simpler time. This includes making all directional inputs the same, making mash events a single button press, automatically succeeding breath sequences and combat sequences, and more. This is a nice offering for solo play though it is noted that it is not available outside of single player so once the online portion is added next month these settings won’t be available in multiplayer. It is also worth noting that just like with the “interrupts” system there are also moments where players may want to purposefully fail a QTE or combat sequence so those who want to see the most of what The Quarry has to offer do need to play with some risks.
For now though players can make use of either the standard single player mode, a couch co-op where players can pass the controller between each other when controlling chosen characters, and a fairly ironic movie mode. Movie mode is something of a funny offering but enjoyable one all the same as it allows players to simply allow the game to play itself and they can watch how events unfold either through a predetermined path or through variables that can be adjusted before the movie starts.
Visuals & Audio
Supermassive has reached deep into their pocketbooks this time around as usually the developer features at least one significant actor to portray a role in their games this time around The Quarry has a whole laundry list of actors. Many of these include horror movie staples such as David Arquette and Ted Raimi with numerous other high profile popular actors and actresses offering their likenesses for facial capture and voice work. This has led to some absolutely gorgeous looking character models with the exception of one character that seems a bit odd looking among the rest as well as some gruesome looking gore whenever a death happens to occur. Similar attention has been paid to making sure that the game features a spooky enough atmosphere with fog rolling in during appropriate scenes, others with only a small bit of lighting to potentially make out a threat, and more.
The voice acting is, as one would expect, top notch given the talent involved. The writing that they have to work with is a bit corny at times though that fits the horror genre that the game manages to capture rather well. It is also nice to note that the game offers a large number of licensed tracks of music that players can enjoy throughout various parts of the game, usually at the beginning or ending of a chapter, though a “streamer” mode can change these tracks to alternate pieces of music which, in at least two cases, were actually more appropriate sounding.
It is clear that Supermassive Games hasn’t lost their touch by offering smaller horror stories as The Quarry proves that they can still offer a lengthier experience with more branching paths and player consequences than ever before. Thanks to some impressive writing as well as some truly well thought out twists and reveals this horror game puts these counselors, and the players, through the wringer by night’s end and eager to see just how different the story can be should different choices be made. If only replaying the story was made a bit easier with the addition of previously seen text skipping like other quality of life improvements such as the numerous accessibility options and unlockable death rewind feature.
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