The Quarry Review: The Until Dawn Successor We've Been Waiting For
Supermassive Games is back with yet another interactive, cinematic horror adventure in the form of The Quarry. A group of camp counselors spend their last night at Camp Hackett's Quarry trying to rekindle broken relationships, assemble new ones, and think about what their future holds as they plan for college. All of this partying and pondering is quickly interrupted by feral, animalistic creatures and grungy hunters that feel like they're pulled straight out of Deliverance. It's up to you, the player, to uncover what's really going on and to survive the night. Of course, it's a Supermassive game, so anyone can die at any moment and send the story in a completely new direction.
Supermassive has proven how capable it is of juggling a massive cast of characters with varying personalities and traits on top of weaving together a branching narrative. The Quarry feels like its best attempt at all of this since Until Dawn. There is at least an hour of spending time with the counselors at camp, hanging out, and talking to each other before chaos begins to ensue. Some seeds are planted during this time, but the developer trusts its writing enough to allow these characters the opportunity to breathe before they start getting ripped apart. Even after blood starts being spilled, the game still brings everything back around to the personal struggles of each character. The lies they've told in their relationships, their desire to get through this so they can finally express their feelings to a crush, and so on.
For an adult, it's easy to look at this and think about how their worries are actually really insignificant, but as a kid, these things feel like the end of the world and Supermassive perfectly captures that. Having a crush as a teenager feels like life or death and The Quarry somehow managed to actually make that feeling a reality by putting teen-aged love affairs at the center of a grisly horror story where death is palpable.
The Quarry maintains a razor sharp level of tension throughout its roughly 10-hour story, as you sit there knowing any move could be your last, and it's really easy to mess up. I took a bit more liberty in being reckless, as I had access to a feature called "Death Rewind," which allows you to undo three deaths in the game and try again. Nevertheless, I was surprised by how easily some characters could die. In some other games, you'll do the wrong thing, but get one or two chances to save yourself via a quick-time event. While that is sometimes true here, often you will doom yourself immediately and be killed without the game presenting any reaction quick-time event to try to prevent it. Supermassive isn't showing much mercy to these camp counselors and it's incredibly effective, helping make the stakes feel real and tangible.
Unlike some of Supermassive's other games, there is a larger goal beyond simply surviving the night in The Quarry. While I won't go into specifics because of spoilers, it often asks you to risk your life for the betterment of others. Sometimes that backfires spectacularly and your caution for an ally results in them having their guts ripped out and thrown on the walls, but sometimes it pans out. It's a game riddled with anxiety, a common trait across the best horror stories. Rarely do you feel confident in the choices you're making and it may be 30 minutes or more before you find out if you've made the right choice.
Regardless of your choices, your first playthrough will likely vary quite a bit from other players. Depending on who is alive and the paths you take, you can see entirely different things. There are characters you might not even properly encounter if others die too early. You might not even come close to completing that aforementioned "larger goal" if you mess up at certain parts. The Quarry is one of very few games that properly integrates its branching narrative to make sure it feels like everything has an impact.
The Quarry also features collectible tarot cards, which you can have read to you by a slightly sketchy psychic in between chapters. The cards give you a small glimpse into a possible future, sometimes suggesting things to avoid. With that said, knowing the future can sometimes be more harmful than beneficial. It can lead to overthinking or the player becoming too guarded, resulting in your demise. Sometimes, it's better to just react organically rather than trying to outsmart the future.
Even with its expertly written characters, relentless levels of tension, and meticulous attention to detail (thanks to high fidelity performance capture technology), The Quarry isn't without its flaws. For a game that is so focused on choices that can completely change the story, there are a lot of choices that feel misleading or outright redundant. This was a problem that was present during our recent preview with the game and only feels more prevalent in the final game. At one point, you're given the option to attack an enemy or run from them. If you choose to run, they stay in the room and just shut down a circuit breaker, turning electricity off in the entire building. Without giving away specifics, this kills a completely different character somewhere else in the house. It was incredibly infuriating because the person I was playing as didn't even do what I told them to do and it led to a consequence that was basically out of my control.
The other significant issue is that The Quarry is meant to be an immersive, cinematic experience, but is filled with weird "editing" errors, for lack of a better term. Due to all of the different branching paths in the narrative and choices, the game is blending a lot of different takes together. This results in abrupt shot changes, performances feeling out of sync with the previous line of dialogue, and shots lingering for a bit longer than necessary. It's not as seamless as one might hope for and can briefly pull you out of the experience, but it's a small gripe in the grand scheme of things.
The Quarry is a charming and surprisingly intimate horror story that creates real stakes and successfully does away with the idea of plot armor. Although it has some annoying or even frustrating quirks, it's a worthy successor to a game like Until Dawn and highlights Supermassive Games as masters of their craft.
The Quarry is slated to release on June 10th, 2022 for Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, and PC. A Steam code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.0comments