Play time: 12 hours
Platform: PC (via Steam)
As the spiritual successor to 2015’s PS4 hit Until Dawn, Supermassive Games’ The Quarry has big, bloodstained boots to fill. Like its predecessor, The Quarry presents itself as an interactive horror film for teens. It’s a label the game proudly wears on its ripped sleeve, not shying away from the tried-and-true tropes of the popular horror subgenre.
The setting at Hackett Quarry – a summer camp located in upstate New York – is immediately evocative of Friday the 13th. And that’s entirely by design. Our nine unlucky teen campers find themselves struggling to survive unspeakable horrors of all kinds as one last impromptu night of partying goes deadly south.
The name of the game becomes a perfect synonym, then. It’s not just the background, but what our protagonists become over the course of the narrative. They’re being hunted, and it’s your quick thinking and decision-making that will help them make it through or meet a hard end.
The quarry price and release date
- What is it? An interactive horror adventure from the minds behind Until Dawn
- Release date of: June 10, 2022
- What can I play on? PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC
- Price: $69.99 / £69.99 / $89.99
With a little help from my friends
As a character-driven narrative, The Quarry runs the risk of sounding trite and unsatisfying. After all, many of the main characters fit into typical horror tropes. There’s the cocky athlete, the shy introvert, and the well-reasoned, cautious type — the triumvirate that fills many horror movies.
Fortunately, The Quarry isn’t content to leave it at that. For the most part, he builds his characters well above these archetypal foundations to create a group that is likable, unpredictable, and sometimes quite nuanced.
This is largely due to the solid script, but also the surprisingly excellent performances from The Quarry’s Hollywood talent cast. Actors like Ariel Winter, Brenda Song, Justice Smith and Miles Robbins give wonderfully believable twists as carefree teenagers well out of their depth. Meanwhile, veteran stars like Ted Raimi, Lance Henriksen and Lin Shaye portray wonderfully frightening characters whose motives remain mysterious for much of the story.
Special mention, though, must be given to Grace Zabriskie, playing a wonderfully unhinged fortune teller, Eliza, who you’ll visit between chapters. Her role is somewhat analogous to that of Until Dawn’s Peter Stormare character – though less critical of her decisions and more foreboding when it comes to how events might unfold.
Eliza’s role in the narrative is tied to one of The Quarry’s many types of collectibles: tarot cards. Over the course of the game, you can find a total of 22 of these cards scattered around the environment, one for each major arcana in a typical tarot deck.
When you visit Eliza at the end of a chapter, she lets you choose a tarot card found to witness a future event in history. These moments are brief, but they can offer clues as to how you might use certain items you find, or avoid a grisly death that befalls one of the teen counselors.
Speaking of collectibles, it’s not just tarot cards you’ll be scouring environments. There are all sorts of hidden objects throughout the entire length of Hackett Quarry. These items will expand the Quarry’s knowledge, or better yet, allow you to discover decisions or plots that would not have occurred otherwise.
As such, whenever you gain full control of an advisor, this is your cue to research each area thoroughly. And while the lack of collectibles can be frustrating, they are a strong incentive for finalists to replay The Quarry and explore alternate story paths.
These boots weren’t made for walking.
Frustratingly, the foot controls in The Quarry share many of the same drawbacks as Until Dawn. Outside of action scenes, the characters’ movement is quite slow. You can speed it up a bit thanks to a dedicated ‘power walk’ button, but that heavy pace can make scouring each area for secrets a chore, especially when going up or down stairs, which is unnecessarily glacial.
General navigation can also feel quite stiff and slow. Fixed camera angles ensure the game’s cinematography is on point, but it does mean that it’s all too common for your character to get caught awkwardly in a setting you may not have seen. And with an unusual touch of realism, your character won’t turn into a dime.
Compounding problems with motor control are prompts to examine objects in the environment, which can be painstaking. Occasionally, you will be standing on or near an item of interest, but no warning will appear. In these cases, you will need to fiddle with your character until the prompt appears. This doesn’t happen often, but it can reduce tension when it does.
In general, however, these control problems are recouped by their responsiveness in other areas. In particular, quicktime’s action-packed scenarios and other contextual events feel much more polished. And as a result, the constant flow of the story is kept intact when it matters most.
On the subject of such pieces, these largely take away your character’s movement controls in favor of quick-time events. These are totally non-intrusive and contextually make sense with what is happening on screen. There will also be times when you will need to aim and fire a weapon in the allotted time or hold your breath to avoid a lurking threat. These scenarios aren’t too difficult, but they are incredibly tense.
walk the way
The final but perhaps most crucial element of control is in the Quarry’s decision making. Often you will have two options on how to respond to something or how to act in the moment. Many of these decisions activate the Path Chosen system. This is The Quarry’s branching narrative feature and is comparable to the butterfly effect of Until Dawn.
Certain decisions may seem insignificant at first, but they can come back to benefit or bite you much later in the story. The heaviest decisions and failed QTEs can lead to the death of a character. These events can be undone by The Quarry’s new Death Rewind feature, which is on by default, and allows you to retry a segment to save that character’s life. However, I recommend disabling this feature for your first playthrough. While it’s literally a lifesaver on repeat play, I felt it cheapened the first blind run experience a bit if I could just alter a character’s dire fate on the fly.
The Path Chosen segments are recorded in their own section of the pause menu and are all charmingly represented by schlocky VHS box art depicting the game’s characters and events. They will be updated periodically as you progress, serving as a reminder of how your early choices affected events much later in the story.
a place to die
The filmic presentation of The Quarry is, without a doubt, the exceptional look. The environments are as impressive as they are atmospheric. From sweeping lakeside views to small touches like specks of light passing through a sunny cabin, nearly every area you visit in The Quarry is packed with detail.
The characters are remarkably photorealistic, but rarely – if ever – get lost in mysterious valley territory. Facial reactions and expressions feel natural, and little flourishes like furrowed brows and pursed lips really help flesh out the characters in non-verbal ways.
Being an interactive horror movie, you would also expect The Quarry to be overflowing with buckets of gore and gore. On that front, the game doesn’t disappoint, and the little touches here really help ground The Quarry firmly in its roots.
If you like games that prioritize an interactive narrative experience, The Quarry is a must-play. Not only is Supermassive’s latest game more than capable of following in Until Dawn’s unpredictable footsteps, it’s also capable of surpassing its predecessor with aplomb – despite the control issues that continue to haunt its developer.
It’s certainly not for the squeamish or easily scared, but The Quarry is a superbly refreshing take on the studio’s narrative-driven formula, and it will have you coming back to get murdered all over again, even after the credits.