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The Quarry Review – Don’t Scream

PC

The Quarry Review – Don’t Scream

What doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger…

The Quarry on PC

Hackett’s Quarry is a creepy place. For years, there have been rumors of supernatural sightings. Reports of whispers, figures lurking in the woods, all of your typical ghost stuff. The Hag of Hackett’s Quarry is at the heart of these rumors, a campfire story of an old woman who died in a fire, and if she catches you alone… well, it’s not going to end well for you.

Supermassive Games struck campy horror gold when it released Until Dawn in 2015. Bringing a bunch of teenagers with a mix of personalities to a creepy cabin in the woods, tossing in some supernatural goodness, and leaving players to make the decisions each teen would take in the chaos that unfolded proved a recipe for success. While the developer’s Dark Pictures Anthology series has been a bit of a mixed bag thus far, the studio has gone for another standalone, decision-based horror game in the form of The Quarry, with its sights set on the same lofty heights of success that Until Dawn once reached.

The good news is that, for the most part, The Quarry delivers. Taking place at Hackett’s Quarry Summer Camp, a group of teen camp counselors find themselves in the middle of some supernatural spookiness in their woodland surroundings and must survive the night while also trying to get to the bottom of what’s going on.

A star-studded cast of celebrities is a key part of what makes The Quarry so darn enjoyable. The likes of David Arquette, Ted Raimi, Miles Robbins, Halston Sage, Justice Smith, and Brenda Song, just to name a few, deliver Hollywood-level performances that help carry the writing at points where it crosses the line from campy into cringe. A particular favorite line, purely for how laughably out of place it was in the context of the situation was a mere three words: “You’re a fucker!” Camp counselor Ryan barked this back at someone when his life was in severe danger. I can’t get across just how funny it is without bordering into spoiler territory, and given The Quarry is a very story-driven experience, just know that it was indeed hilarious, and there are a few other corny moments to accompany it along the way.

But that’s all part of the charm of The Quarry, and its predecessor Until Dawn, for that matter too. They take the campy horror genre of movies and distill it down into an interactive experience where you have control over how characters respond to certain situations, warts and all.

For the most part, though, the writing and conversations the counselors feel authentic to the way teens behave and converse with one another in real life. Conversations about how two months of no technology was “so hard on Emma’s subs,” or the mean-spirited jokes and comments that come out during intense moments wouldn’t feel out of place at a house party.

The character models in The Quarry are also pretty fantastic, clearly based on their real-life actor’s likeness. These help to provide a truly cinematic feel to the game, but I did find that on my PC the environments didn’t always match these high-quality models. There was the occasional instance of texture pop-in during cutscenes, dark scenes often looked a little grainy and unnatural and some textures just don’t match up with how exceptionally detailed the characters themselves look. It’s by no means an ugly game to look at, but it’s certainly noticeable at times.

In terms of the actual narrative here, Supermassive Games has done a good job of crafting a story that provides enough thrills, twists, and turns while still offering players the element of choice. I was also a particular fan of how the characters didn’t always stick to their stereotypical tropes. Jacob, the macho dude-bro, still has a soft, sensitive side that you actually see every once in a while, and we get a look behind the curtain of why IT girl Emma remains so positive and overly confident.

When characters are isolated, we get more of these instances. Isolated, quiet moments where they explore how they are the way they are. These scenes are fleeting, especially when the action ramps up in later scenes, but help add some depth to what would otherwise just be avatars used for your own horror-filled antics.

I did end up having a soft spot for Dylan, played by Miles Robbins, who drips with a sarcastic personality that borders on happy-go-lucky. Even in the face of imminent death, he was able to crack corny jokes or make snide remarks that never failed to land because of Robbins’ fantastic delivery. On the other end of the spectrum, Abigail was a little more annoying, but in my playthrough never really got much of a focus to change my mind on that. She was always just there, in the background, being scared or complaining, save the odd scene or two. Whether she would have come more into the narrative had other counselors met an untimely demise, however, I never got chance to find out. It’s a shame, as when Abigail does get a moment in the spotlight, she’s a little more endearing, with Ariel Winter playing the geeky and somewhat socially awkward teen trope pretty perfectly.

It’s not all positive, though. The Quarry does take quite a while to really ramp up the spooky side of things, with the first two to three hours — depending on how much you explore the environments looking for evidence, clues, tarot cards, and other objects you can interact with — more or less setting the scene and introducing the core cast of counselors. During this time, there aren’t really any scares and so it can feel a little bit of a slow burn.

Things can also get a little convoluted and unclear in the latter chapters. In an attempt to keep you guessing, it can sometimes feel like The Quarry intentionally tries to send you down the wrong path. It made trying to make informed decisions based on what I knew and had seen far more difficult because you never knew when something would suddenly change, impacting all of your previous decisions for the worst. It’s understandable, given the sheer amount of branching paths and possible outcomes that things won’t always align perfectly, but they felt more prominent here than in its predecessors.

These minor missteps aside, though, The Quarry matches Until Dawn beat for beat. Its action sequences are heart-poundingly intense, decisions are tough and can drastically change the outcome of the story — as you’d expect — and the naturally spooky setting of a big ol’ forest at nighttime doesn’t disappoint.

The core gameplay here is largely the same as it was in Until Dawn and The Dark Pictures anthology. There are quick-time events (QTEs) with your success or failure in these determining the path the story takes. Don’t breathe moments require you to hold a button and not let go until the danger has passed, and there’s of course a plethora of dialogue choices and major story decisions to make along the way which will change how the counselors tackle each curveball the night throws at them.

What was particularly impressive is how Supermassive Games has made collecting evidence throughout the night important to the overall outcome and ending of the story. Again, I’m reluctant to delve further into this for the sake of spoilers, but just know that searching around your environments and interacting with what you find can have a significant impact on the ending.

One of my biggest gripes with The Quarry was how it can sometimes feel like the game wants the counselors to play out scenes in a certain way, like rebelling against figures of authority, despite them potentially having the counselor’s best interests at heart. It results in you constantly being put into certain scenarios or having to do something which you don’t necessarily want the characters to do, and will just put you in positions of conflict you were intentionally trying to avoid all along. Chapter 7, in particular, which acts as a flashback scene, feels particularly stilted, clearly having to play out in a certain way to fall in line with the events that follow, but it was arguably the most frustrating chunk of the game as a result of this. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but teasing players with it in a decision-based narrative doesn’t make for a fun experience.

The choices you make don’t always play out the way they’re put forward to you, either. For example, in one instance I had the choice of attacking or running away. I opted to run away, but my counselor decided to smack a power circuit on her way out instead, plunging them into darkness. It had unforeseen consequences for one of the other characters who was then killed. But had I known the aforementioned power circuit was about to take a beating rather than, you know, running away as the choice suggested, I probably wouldn’t have opted to go for it.

I get that actions have consequences, and that’s a large point of these games — not all consequences of your actions can be foreseen, but when a character randomly does something that isn’t clearly signposted to you when given the choices, it’s more annoying than anything else.

Fortunately, Supermassive Games has added in a forgiving ‘rewind’ mechanic. If a counselor is killed, you can choose to rewind time to an earlier point to make a different decision which could result in them being saved. In the instance of the notorious power circuit scene, I was able to use this to go back and make another decision almost 30 minutes beforehand. It’s a great annoyance avoider, but the fact there’s no clear indicator of how far back the all-important decision you were supposed to make differently is in order to avoid a death before you choose to rewind means you can end up playing through a significant portion of the game all over again.

While The Quarry has largely left the tanky movement controls of Until Dawn back in its secluded cabin in the woods, there are still instances where they rear their ugly head. In confined spaces, the camera still flits around into different fixed camera angles, and the controls go from fluid to particularly jerky. Similarly, when walking up and down stairs, your characters will go up and down them at a snail’s pace, and the ‘sprint’ button is more of a barely noticeable brisk walk than a significant increase in movement speed.

Despite all of this, I still thoroughly enjoyed my 10 hours with the counselors at Hackett’s Quarry and am midway through a second playthrough where they perhaps won’t be so lucky. That’s the beauty of Supermassive’s titles, there’s no ‘right’ way to play them. It’s your adventure to enjoy as you see fit, and with the addition of the ‘rewind’ feature any major missteps that lead to a death can instantly be reversed.

The Quarry is a reminder of just how great Supermassive’s games can be when given the time and the right amount of polish. A longer runtime over previous The Dark Pictures Anthology titles allows for more character-building and thus you’re more invested in them and their plight. A number of gameplay improvements, an intriguing story, likable cast of characters, and tough choices combine to make for Supermassive’s strongest horror outing since Until Dawn kickstarted it all those years ago. The Quarry is an easy recommendation for players who have been watching campy horror movies for years, wishing they could make all the smart decisions that would obviously keep everyone alive. Or, you know, the psychos who just want to watch the world burn.

Review Block

Twinfinite Editors Choice Award

The Quarry

4
/ 5

Great

The Quarry Critic Review
Reviewer: Chris Jecks | Award: Editor’s Choice | Copy provided by Publisher.

Pros

  • Interesting characters and strong performance make for a memorable cast.
  • Spooky setting and largely strong writing will get your heart pounding.
  • Choices feel significantly weighty and allow you to craft your own adventure.
  • ‘Rewind’ feature is a welcome, annoyance-avoiding addition.

Cons

  • Takes a while to get going.
  • Decisions can sometimes lead to other unwanted actions playing out.
  • Some hammy writing at times.
Release Date
June 10, 2022
Developer
Supermassive Games
Publisher
2K Games
Consoles
PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC
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