Why is it that the majority of those who die in horror movies are teenagers? Maybe it’s a revenge story written by overwhelmed parents? Since the heyday of the Halloween film in 1978, teenagers have been getting killed one by one, by all manner of psychopaths and monsters. Yet we the audience seem to lap it up.
It’s not something that is limited to the big screen either and Supermassive Games’ first title before they went down the trilogy track of The Dark Pictures Anthology was Until Dawn; a game where the cast got knocked off, one by one. The Quarry has taken that template but has made everything more frightening and more suspenseful, but also more fun to play. Get your torch out and let us venture out into the dark.
The Quarry does a great job in its story of embracing some of the tropes and cliches of great horror movies, but it also feels modern; always fun and entertaining. You can certainly tell that it’s a Supermassive title, but I feel that they have learned a lot of lessons in their time with The Dark Pictures Anthology, capable of delivering a much more meaty and dynamic package. Sometimes the story drags a bit before the action kicks and the blood starts flowing, but I guess you need the normal to make the supernatural feel so right.
The game is set in a summer camp, somewhere in New York state – Hackett’s Quarry. Nine camp counsellors – the aforementioned teenagers – have sent all the kids home from camp and are left packing up and ready to leave. They decide to stay for one more night and have a party to celebrate the end of summer. But something – or someone – is watching them and as the night progresses the teens end up fighting for their lives. I’m not going to spoil anything about the story, but I will say it does a good job for a long while, keeping you guessing in regards what the hell is going on. There is a mixture of genres here – supernatural horror, slasher movie, teen comedy and coming-of-age drama.
The writing for The Quarry is very sharp, witty, and at times, complex. Characters are more nuanced than previous and not so two-dimensional. You’re going to have your favorite amongst them and that will determine who you want to live with and which of the gang you just aren’t bothered with seeing the back of. There is a neat feature included whereby when one of the characters dies, you get a chance (out of three lives) to bring that character back, performing a different choice. This will certainly help in your determination who you love the most and who you are indifferent about. In couch mode – share the controller mode – it could quite quickly cause a load of arguments.
There are about ten hours of gameplay to be had here in The Quarry, considerably bigger than the most recent Dark Pictures games, but the gameplay does consist of the usual things you get from a game like this. There is the exploration part of the game where you get to control all the characters at one point, moving them around the space in the third person; shiny markers popping up as you get closer to them. These can be items for you to examine and pick up, or clues to the narrative that you collect throughout the game and can analyse in the menus. They can also be items needed to progress, doorways, or characters to interact with. Throw in some tarot cards to find in each chapter and you’ll gain an insight into possible futures between chapters, seeing it all in a literal crystal ball.
Chats with the other characters work in the normal way, in which you get a choice of how you react to someone with a choice of two outcomes. This affects the relationship but also changes the outcome of the story and endings. Another returning mechanic is the QTE events, which get harder as you progress through the game. Quick reactions are needed as the instruction comes on the screen in the action sequences for you to follow. I’ll admit to not being a massive fan of a QTE, but The Quarry does a good job of making them exciting and fresh.
Visually, and The Quarry is one of the best-looking games from Supermassive. The interiors and exteriors of all the locations are exceptional and the small amount of time you spend in the daylight is stunning, with the beginning of an Autumn sun’s glow being radiant. Night time is where most of the game is set and it looks scary and intimidating at times. It is also very dark and at times you’ll want to go whacking the brightness up. Supermassive Games have also done a great job with motion capture and facial animations previously and it’s something that they excel in again in The Quarry. Expressions from all performers are captured and displayed superbly, whilst other effects in the horror department are graphic and frightening, done effectively.
In terms of audio, the soundtrack and effects are equivalent to a high-end movie; one with a great horror score and jump-out-of-the-skin moments. The performance of some fairly big actors and others are all of a very high standard too, as they go about delivering believable performances and execute the material on offer with relish, comedy, and horror.
There’s a fairly big chunk of gameplay on offer in The Quarry and it totally deserves a replay in order for you to witness different endings and try to see if you can keep everyone alive – or kill them all. It’s fascinating to try to go back to get all the clues and work out all the narrative as well. Should you not be much of a fan of these types of games, then The Quarry will struggle to persuade you to come onboard, and there are some moments, especially in the middle where it starts to drag a bit before all hell kicks loose, but on the whole I can’t wait to see what next fright night Supermassive Games have in store.
The Quarry can be downloaded from the Xbox Store