Capturing the chills and thrills outside of horror movies through video games is arguably at its best in titles that are more interactive; the higher sense of immersion raises the suspense and scares in tandem.
With similar games like Until Dawn and The Dark Pictures Anthology under its belt, developer Supermassive Games has seemed to further hone its horror formula with The Quarry – being both a horror experience that’s captivating and terrifying in the best way possible.
Setting the Stage
The Quarry has a premise you could’ve sworn you heard before without it stopping you want to see how the story unfolds. Nine teen camp counsellors are getting ready for one last night of fun before the end of Summer. When the appearance of monsters and blood-covered locals puts a halt to the celebrations, the band of young protagonists must scramble to survive, with your choices from big to small deciding whether all (if any) live to see the sunrise.
Like your typical horror movie, The Quarry sets the stage right away with an eerie and intense prologue, before resetting with happy go-lucky teen antics from Chapter 1, resuming the build-up while we’re in the know of what’s to come.
Your choices in dialogue and actions will matter from the get-go, and such stakes wouldn’t hold weight without a decent collection of protagonists to care about saving.
Luckily, the Quarry’s star-studded cast of lovable characters achieves just that. Actors like Jurassic World and Detective Pikachu’s Justice Smith, Modern Family’s Ariel Winters, and even those playing characters outside of the young counsellors like the Scream franchise’s David Arquette – shine in their facial capture performances and delivering well-written dialogue for both the game’s light-hearted and frightening moments.
Furthermore, even if you’re playing on last-gen consoles or a lower-spec PC, the game still looks stunning. In the wider open areas like forests, you might experience some pop-in or the odd frame rate drop on older hardware or that which might be under the recommended specs, but that doesn’t undergo the meticulous detail put into The Quarry’s environments and character models. The latter of which look even better when the blood-soaked terror kicks off.
The Quarry also does an exceptional job of balancing so many protagonists too. In the opening acts, multiple characters have their own camp movie-esque arcs which showcase the wide array of personalities.
For example, there’s Jacob’s the lovestruck jock who tries too hard to be funny, Emma the head cheerleader type, Abi the shy friend, Dylan the oddball funnyman, and Ryan the reclusive but caring loner.
Initially following the typical horror tropes, Supermassive Games makes the most of the medium to give each star breathing room – letting you see more of what’s under the surface before having you choose how their character development goes.
With that extra agency comes added emotional weight, the fact that each character can die in up to 12 ways at seemingly any time, makes the pressure to keep them alive – whether in dialogue interactions, quick-time events, or combat – all the more prevalent. It’s a teen horror movie setting that may be familiar, yes, but there’s so much more depth for investment.
A Hunt for Answers
As the mysteries behind the history of Hackett’s Quarry unravels, there are multiple vehicles driving you forward as the player.
One is getting both yourself and the various characters up to speed, with an emphasised need for exploration having you walk around levels as much as possible to find a plethora of clues to aid you in piecing it all together.
Another is that whilst you’re exploring, you always feel like there’s something in the shadows – an ever-prevalent sense of danger that makes you continuously wonder whether you’re making the right choice.
Some decisions seem obvious. Alternatively, if you’ve made one decision, another event including another camper might make you regret that one entirely. Nevertheless, The Quarry’s massively branching story subverts expectations with either an initially bad decision working out or an unexpectedly brutal death.
As the player, you’ll have a lot of hidden hints and clues to look out for. Even more so, Tarot Cards hidden throughout the game can be collected for Eliza, a mysterious guide you meet between each chapter, to provide you with further vague indications on what might be coming.
Despite all this, you’ll still end up with a multitude of surprises, one of which could push one character over the fine edge between life and death. Even after the first playthrough, The Quarry keeps the horror thrill alive with teaching you to expect the unexpected on more than one level.
The only thing that might hinder you wanting to explore as much as possible, besides time, is moving in certain rooms or areas – changing from a third-person perspective in more open spaces before switching to a wide view in those more enclosed – the latter being a lot clunkier, especially if you’re using a mouse and keyboard.
Exciting Ways to Play
You’ve actually got a few choices on how to play The Quarry. Outside of the standard single-player, the Movie Mode takes away a load of the needed gameplay input; quicktime events, button mashing, combat; to let you enjoy more of the story if that’s all you’ve come for. Along with local and online co-op, letting your take turns and others participate in decision making. Death Rewind, an unlockable feature after the first playthrough, can even let you undo a few character deaths the next time around.
These extra optional modes work great for trying out new decisions and bringing others into the experience as well, even if they’re not typical gamers themselves. However, a massive element in what’s best in games like The Quarry is when your own ability and reaction times take part in deciding whether a character lives or dies.
Given through optional but amazingly charming tutorials, The Quarry can throw at you a selection of gameplay curveballs which you need to be ready for each time. When a chilling chase sequence starts, guessing if you’ll need to react to a quick-time event, make seemingly impossible decisions in the heat of the moment, can really get the heart pounding.
The only mechanic that doesn’t hit the mark as much is one of the very few nitpicks to be had with The Quarry: Don’t Breathe. When being hunted, you can push down on the command button to pretend to be dead, only releasing it at the right time when you know it’s safe.
The issue is that The Quarry currently makes it all too easy, it being obvious with a fading red light and breath metre – telling you that you just need to hold until the last possible second, and no harm will fall to the character at play. Even so, this part of gameplay is only ironically a slight breather when the rest is an absolute thrill.
Final Thoughts – Is The Quarry Good?
The Quarry is a fascinating mix of gameplay, story, and casting which brings the teen drama horror experience to life on multiple levels. Suspense and the ever-feeling sense of danger is what we often love most about horror films, but even then, much of that can dissipate after the first viewing.
The Quarry reinvigorates storytelling in horror by giving you more agency as the player, branching off into so many outcomes, and ultimately making you want to play again immediately after the credits roll. As well as being a love letter to monster movies and slasher flicks, it takes the best of those experiences and kicks it up to another level. Backed by clever humour-laced writing, stellar cast performances, and interactive depth, this is the new horror game that everyone should be talking about.
For our The Quarry review, a PC copy was provided by Premier.
Tested on a PC featuring:
AMD Ryzen 5 Processor
8GB DDR4-3200 SO-DIMM RAM
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti Video Card
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Featured Image Credit: Supermassive Games