The Quarry review: Hunting grounds

by Lars
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The Quarry is the spiritual successor to Until Dawn – a title that was more horror movie than game. This new story from Supermassive isn’t too different in that regard. There are plenty of QTEs to navigate, choices to make, and oddly familiar faces rendered in Uncanny Valley territory. But where Until Dawn was grim and a little bit miserable, The Quarry is lavished with 80’s nostalgia and a ton of classic horror throwbacks.

You’ve probably heard the story before – sleep-away camp gone wrong, horny teenagers throwing a party and breaking some rules, chaos ensues. There’s a prologue which does a fantastic job of setting up the supernatural elements before we meet our main characters, so you go into the main story with a ton of questions. This makes every bit of the set-up drip with tension. As the camp counsellors go through moments of relationship drama or personal strife, you’re basically just waiting for the axe to fall, nipping all those young loves in the bud.

The Quarry searching the woods

The Quarry establishes that initial mystery really well. There are a ton of layers to the threat, and you’re constantly trying to figure out how it all links together. It’ll give you a few breadcrumbs here and there, and then utterly derail from where you thought it was going to go. The characters will surprise you – there’s almost a Green Room level of trope subversion at times. They may be inspired by 80s horror movies, but they certainly don’t behave like the protagonists. They arm themselves early, they generally stick together, and I was delighted when a certain character took pictures of her attacker with a smartphone.

At first, the cast seems quite one-dimensional. You’ve got influencer girl, mysterious loner, jock, class clowns and the alternative girl. Within twenty minutes of meeting all of them, I’d more or less written them all off as annoying, typical teenagers. But as the story progressed it became clear that some serious thought has been put into rounding them out. They still make mistakes, sure – it wouldn’t be a very long game if they didn’t – but it’s cool to see them acting like intelligent people instead of cattle for the slaughter.

It’s sort of laid out like a TV series. You’ve got chapters bookended by odd splashes of thematic licensed music, and the mysterious narrative that winds all the different characters together. Some of the actors put in phenomenal performances. Jacob, played by Zach Tinker, really walks a delicate line between goofy lovestruck idiot and cocky jock. Ted Raimi absolutely shines in his role, sometimes more sinister than the outright antagonists. And Ethan Suplee – yes, Randy from My Name is Earl – does an excellent if understated turn as the hulking Bobby.

I do have a pretty hefty gripe with the The Quarry’s story, though. It’s good, and for the most part well-played. But damn is there a lot of talking. The pacing needed a little bit of extra attention to help the plot really shine. The Quarry is, more often than not, five minutes of excitement sandwiched with half an hour of exposition or character building either side. The QTE sequences aren’t particularly challenging – it’s only ever mashing the A button or pressing an incredibly telegraphed direction on the analogue stick.

That’s not to say the action itself isn’t good. The Quarry‘s monsters and villains are nightmarish, brought to life in alarming clarity. Coming face to face with them feels really uncomfortable, almost like having your personal space invaded, but for the most part we don’t have that much agency in it.

During my first play through I was doing everything I could to keep everyone alive. This gets a little bit easier with the Fortune Teller, who replaces the psychiatrist from Until Dawn with a bit of a difference. By collecting tarot cards hidden in chapters, the Fortune Teller can give you cryptic hints that just might keep you alive. These are generally pretty well done – they don’t give anything too telling away, but they steer you in the right direction.

Unlike Until Dawn, The Quarry employs a life system which gives you the chance to attempt to save a murdered character. This is quite a neat implementation from a player-friendly point of view, but it needs a little fine tuning. Late on in The Quarry, I lost someone and was confronted with the second chance screen. Accepting the second chance knocked me back an entire 45 minutes of playtime, without a single indication that it would do so. Other pre-release players have remarked that one particular second chance use will basically send you back halfway through the entire game without warning, which seems absurd.

I am not going to mark that as a negative, though. 2K and their press team have been incredibly communicative throughout this entire pre-release review opportunity, and they’ve assured us that the issue will be addressed with a post-release patch. Just be aware that going back to save a life might cost you a bit of progress (and make you rewatch quite a lot of dialogue!)

So yeah, there is quite a lot of dialogue. At times it can feel frustrating, and that’s partly because the mystery behind it all is compelling, partly because you just want the tension to break and something to happen. Once it all starts moving towards the end, events happen at a mile a minute. Even so, the dialogue is genuinely quite witty and offers proper insight into the characters and their motivations. While the game might seem a little slow, others will be delighted for the opportunity to get to know the various characters so well.

The Quarry overall thoughts

The Quarry is an awesome supernatural horror story. The ‘game’ aspects of it might not ring out too clearly, but I can’t argue with the use of the interactive medium to tell this story. Having a little more presence in the combat/chase scenes would have been great, but that may just be a question of personal taste.

If you loved Until Dawn, The Quarry is a worthy successor to it. It’s quite different in tone – feeling at times more like an episode of Stranger Things or Supernatural than a survival horror movie. There’s no moment equal to the sheer terror of navigating that cave full of Wendigos, for example. But this is a fantastic monster story splattered with plenty of gruesome kills and last-minute trope subversions. The dialogue is overly abundant, sure, but it’s witty and gives you plenty of insight into who the characters are.

The Quarry is a living horror TV series, up there with some of the genre giants in terms of production quality and performance. Choices have weight. You’ll care about characters that seem like total morons at first. It’s both supernatural and, well, natural, filled with people that behave in believable ways. If you’re looking for a good time with a bit of gore and a lot of slow-burn tension, head on down to Hackett’s Quarry. After all, as the camp motto goes… what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!

The Quarry was developed by Supermassive Games and published by 2K. It releases on June 10th and will be available on Steam plus Xbox/PS. Why not read more reviews here?

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