It’s the classic slasher movie set-up: a bunch of teens are alone at a lodge, night falls, and things turn pretty grim. Supermassive Games turns this familiar premise into an enticing interactive horror experience with The Quarry. This Until Dawn spiritual successor is a delightful mish-mash of horror tropes wrapped up in an exciting collection of choices and consequences, it’ll be sure to please you if you’re a fan of 80s-styled horror and interactive dramas.
The Mystery Gang
After an unsettling prologue, chapter 1 introduces you to seven teenagers who are counselors for the titular summer camp, Hackett’s Quarry. It’s the last day of camp and everyone is packing up and ready to go. Adult camp leader Chris wants to get these kids out ASAP, but something happens to the minivan, and it won’t start. Chris then gives an order for everyone to stay in the lodge for the night — no one in or out. Of course, these rebellious youngsters take this as an opportunity to have an all-night party. But not is all as it seems, and they are being watched from the forest. These first few chapters present the relationship dynamics of the characters and build up intrigue and tension.
The Quarry has a particularly strong cast of playable protagonists. While some of the counselors may seem cringy and grating at first, you soon get to know and respect them for the intentionally cliched characters that they are (along with unexpected development along the way). Teenage drama is the focus of the first few chapters, so be prepared for some slow pacing for the sake of fleshing out some of the personalities and relationships. The romance plot threads are a bit corny, but they are there to give an authentic teen slasher feel. Because of the slow burn, there is some nice chemistry between characters, as the game will form certain duos according to the scenario. As a result, I was kept engaged in ensuring the team’s survival.
With The Quarry essentially being an interactive movie, your most crucial actions and reactions occur during cutscenes. Of course, a prominent element are quick time events (QTEs). This time around, QTEs are straightforward, with just a flick of the right analog stick or the mashing of X. They are pretty liberal, too, so you are unlikely to fail any of these. Even if you do, the game leans more on the importance of your reactions to the other kinds of mechanics. One of these is the “Don’t Breathe” sequences, where you’ll have to hold X until it is safe to release your character’s breath. I think this mechanic is a little convoluted with its cluttered visual indicators, so I often exceeded my breathing limit (the tutorial did not even mention that). I wish the QTEs were a bit more complex like a Quantic Dream game, but it’s okay that more emphasis is placed on choices.
The game throws a couple more tests of your reaction into the mix, each with dire consequences. There are timed moments where you’ll have to shoot a gun. Your aim does not have to be precise, but sometimes the target can be fast. You can also choose not to pull the trigger by letting the timer run out. Another vital mechanic very similar to this are “Interrupts,” timed moments where you can press X to execute a suggested action or wait and do nothing. Both of these situations will test your instincts — your trigger-finger impulse often dominates reasoning when given a short time frame. However, in the accessibility settings, you can choose from lengthened timers to automatic success in every event. In either case, you won’t want to always act upon impulse. Every choice you make puts you on a “Path,” and these reactions are one of many tantalizing permutations that lead to the nuanced routes you can take.
Bad Choice Road
A horror game of this runtime can’t just be all blood and guts — it has to tell a captivating story and give the player extra things to do to fill out the content. Well, The Quarry revolves around an intriguing mystery that lingers in the background but slowly boils to the surface. The plot is developed skillfully through appropriate exposition and a heap of things to collect. There are many things in the environment you can inspect that’ll give you a “Clue.” These are tidbits of lore that unearth the dark buried secrets of Hackett’s Quarry. You can then access Clues from the menu, where you can read them and piece together what is happening. “Matching Clues” unlock info about others. They are fun to collect, and I genuinely wanted to read them thanks to the excellent writing.
And yes, there are more types of collectibles. One is “Tarot Cards,” which act the same way as “Totems” in Until Dawn in that they foretell the future. If you find a card, an ominous fortune-teller woman will read it at the end of each chapter. She will tell you the meaning of the Tarot Card, which cleverly and symbolically foreshadows events, and allows you to witness a snippet of a significant choice in her crystal ball. You can also skip these premonitions and go blind if you want. There are also pieces of “Evidence” you can collect, which can directly affect endings. These collectibles are fine and dandy, although I wish they would carry over to a new game save, but they don’t, which sucks.
The Quarry goes the extra mile to construct a realistic-looking, self-conscious, and fun interactive horror. First off, it utilizes some advanced facial capture technology. The faces look impressively convincing, especially the eyes. But it’s not only the tech — it’s the acting on display too. From horror veterans like David Arquette (Scream) and Grace Zabriskie (Twin Peaks) to the fresh-faced newcomers like Justice Smith (Detective Pikachu), the cast is so consistent in delivering splendid performances. There is also the atmosphere. While the characters could have a little more urgency, I still laughed at the comedic relief because it felt fitting to the game’s tone. Fans of Until Dawn may prefer its more serious approach, but I personally found this game more entertaining.
This review covers last-gen. I reviewed it on a PS4 Pro. It includes HDR, a welcome treat, and gives the game some great contrast, especially for the scary scenes at night. Although, lighting is naturally better on PS5, as is the foliage. But these things are hard to notice during gameplay, and indoor locales and characters will look very similar. Frame rate is also relatively smooth, with only one noticeable dip during a rainy sequence. There are a few glitches, like dialogue repeating once during a cutscene, the prologue cutscene going out of sync (reloading the save fixed this), or characters’ hair vibrating like a wig. But otherwise, the stability is impressive.
Bizarre Yet Bonafide
The Quarry is a wild ride. It manages to be a gleeful concoction of horror clichés and a substantial interactive experience. Your choices feel like they matter, as evidenced by the 186 different character endings. And with a gripping story and superb performances, this is one summer stay you won’t forget.
You can cross-buy The Quarry on PSN here.