REVIEW – After Until Dawn, Supermassive Games has managed to make a name for itself among gamers. Unfortunately, Dark Pictures Anthology has somewhat tarnished that positive perception and the developers have returned to the roots of their first success: their 80s-inspired teen horror with jump scares. But just as the sequels to classic horror or slasher series often ‘bleed out’ after a great first episode, The Quarry somehow struggles to recreate the same immersive atmosphere.
As this is the fifth interactive horror novel, it’s fair to say that the developers have had time and plenty of opportunities to figure out what cinematic elements work for video games. In The Quarry, we are once again faced with a story revolving around teenagers, full of mystery, suspense, potential victims, monsters, campfires about the occult, an ordinary yet scary place and teenagers who can be so annoying that we often feel like tearing them to pieces ourselves.
But in return, we get to meet relatively famous B-list actors like Ted Raimi (Evil Dead franchise, brother of Sam Raimi), David Arquette (Scream franchise) and Lance Henriksen (Alien films). Yet the overall picture doesn’t feel fully functional.
In The Quarry, following in Until Dawn’s footsteps, we get another teen horror story that alternates protagonists in a series of scenarios linked in a predetermined sequence. You can influence how the story unfolds and our heroes’ paths, but you can’t control the order of events. As well as the narrative choices you have to make and the story-driven by the familiar QTEs make the game very much an interactive visual novel. Aside from Until Dawn, we’ve seen plenty of this before, if you think back to the relatively popular Telltale titles of the past or Quantic Dreams classics like Heavy Rain or Detroit: Become Human. While The Quarry is better than the Telltale titles, it still falls far short compared to the original Until Dawn or those two Quantic games.
The game’s first problem is that the interactive section is the most neglected of the productions of Supermassive Games to date. The QTEs feel primitive: they are very light or don’t fit the game well. Most of the time, I messed up the QTEs because I got caught up in the cinematic events and switched them on late. In addition, the freedom of exploration feels limited compared to Until Dawn, and the stealth sections are decidedly weak. The Quarry feels more like a movie than an adventure game. All the game mechanics seem to be there to decide whether or not the character will survive.
Some things are inevitable
Some of the narrative decisions are unavoidable, and no matter how much you’ve explored and learned about the backstory, it’s inevitable that some cheap trickery will cause one of them. Even the new Death Rewind feature doesn’t remedy this fact. Even if the game doesn’t really test your neurons or reflexes, it will definitely test your patience.
Death Rewind is available after completing the first full round and gives you three extra chances to save your character from the most tragic fate. It also shows that the developers have deliberately focused on making players play through the game multiple times. The problem is that the elegiac scenario does not encourage numerous attempts.
One playthrough of The Quarry takes roughly 10 hours. The duration does not vary much, as there are no skips in the game. You’ll have to sit through the same dialogue and clumsy decisions each time you play. After you finish the game, chapter selection becomes available in a limited form.
Once you’ve selected a chapter from which you want to restart your adventure, you can’t do so until you’ve finished the current game. This restriction is a disincentive to your motivation to try and explore the different paths your heroes can take.
Speaking of heroes, although the characters in The Quarry are just as talented as those in Until Dawn, the script pretty much neglects them. Lance Henriksen has no real room for acting, and the teenagers seem to embody some of the most annoying stereotypes you’ll find in a summer movie.
The best performance and perhaps the best-written role of a mysterious lady who can show the future. Played by Grace Zabriskie (Twin Peaks), the character gives you a glimpse of the challenges that await you in the next chapter, based on the tarot cards hidden in each chapter.
In addition to the tarot cards, collectables play an essential role in understanding the story as a whole. The subtle details needed to figure out the whole puzzle are hidden in clues and clues that you’ll find all around you. They connect nicely to the story but discovering them can often become torture.
The game is full of walkthroughs that frame the events. If you trigger them before you discover a collectable, most of the time, there is no way to go back and get the collectable. Another cheap decision to encourage replay value is the fact that collectables do not transfer from one gameplay mode to another and cannot be checked from the main menu.
Graphics are all over the place
Graphically, the game is also a bit of a rollercoaster. At times it looks very detailed, and the facial animation is excellent. The overall picture is ruined, however, by the camera, which often fails to focus on the faces mentioned above, the characters’ eyelids, which tend to droop, the creepily clumsily crafted hair and the (I’m not exaggerating!) PlayStation 2-esque water display.
These problems are significant enough to break the experience a little and remind you that you’re playing a game, not a movie. As for the sounds: we’ve heard better, and the soundtrack, which is only heard at a few key moments, is entirely forgettable.
We’ve tested the PlayStation 5 version of the game. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make any use of DualSense’s capabilities. Still, we didn’t even get a classic force feedback experience – and for a chase, “ghost-retention”, scythe-slashing, monster game, that’s a big missed opportunity.
Ah, the eighties!
If you like 80s horror movies, chances are you’ll enjoy The Quarry. But if you’ve already played Until Dawn and you’re going into this game with the same expectations, there’s a good chance you’ll be disappointed. It lives up to the promise of a summer teen horror, but it’s far from Supermassive Games’ best production.
The replay value is affected by the game’s structure, with The Quarry feeling a bit like a teenager struggling with self-worth, trying too hard to give it the attention it desperately seeks. It can be a pleasant and light-hearted experience for a hot summer weekend but don’t expect much more than that.
+ Well-known B-list actors
+ Mysteries & Monsters
+ Death Rewind System
– QTEs are too light
– Graphics are often not real
– Predictable story
Publisher: Take 2
Developer: Supermassive Games
Style: Interactive cinema
Published: June 10, 2022