Summer camp at Hackett’s Quarry is ending and night is falling, but a small group of counsellors decide to capitalise on their van breaking down and have one last night of summer fun. But with hunters, wild animals, and things that go bump in the night lurking about, it may not be quite as fun as they were hoping.
The Quarry, a new cinematic horror title from developer Supermassive Games and publisher 2K Games, follows these kids as they try to survive the night. Already, some may see some large — even concerning — parallels to Supermassive’s last huge horror experience, Until Dawn. Both games feature the goal of surviving to the following morning, large and imposing creatures, and even a variety of similar plot beats early on. However, The Quarry makes it very clear that it is a completely different beast, using staples of Supermassive’s horror titles in brand new ways. Multiple times throughout my experience, I found myself thinking that a given element was just a weaker version of something in Until Dawn shoehorned in to keep the game on brand. However, in each of these instances, The Quarry undoubtedly proved me wrong to the highest degree. If, like me, you’ve played through Until Dawn numerous times or you somehow think that Supermassive’s titles have grown stale, trust me: The Quarry will blow you away.
With its summer camp setting and roaming hunters, The Quarry has a perfect setup for a classic slasher-type horror film and the game truly leans into that. There’s plenty of small town terror to be had as the counsellors move about the camp, hiding from people and beings that they barely understand as they uncover secret after secret surrounding the campsite and the people that live — or used to live — around it. And when blood starts to spill, no one can blame the kids for reacting poorly as the situation grows ever darker.
Truthfully, many of the details that I found most impressive with The Quarry’s narrative only become revealed halfway through the storyline, but at the very least, I can say that the twists and turns are well-managed, surprising on a first playthrough, and heavily foreshadowed by everything from the collectibles to the soundtrack; when something can be all three at the same time, I find that to be truly special. Still, there is one detail I can praise about The Quarry’s endgame without fear of spoiling the experience. Actually, make that two.
One aspect of the plot that has been brought up about this title is Supermassive’s effort to provide a greater variety to endings than we’ve yet seen and, despite only having the time to get through the game twice or so, I believe The Quarry delivers. But that’s not even the best part about this variety. My one real qualm with Until Dawn had been that, once a character had their moment to die, they were effectively written out of the story, whether or not they survived. If they were even able to rejoin the group, they would usually just hang back and stop getting involved in the events. This is absolutely not the case with The Quarry; while some people certainly get split up in order to allow certain events to play out with certain characters regardless of who is still alive or not, everyone maintains a part to play to the very end. This is not always the case — depending on which ending a player winds up with — but even when a given character is sidelined for the ending, they are still given a moment unique to them.
Considering how well The Quarry handles surviving characters, the inclusion of a death rewind feature (alongside many accessibility features) feels particularly rewarding. While the death rewinds are included in the Deluxe Edition from the start, players with the Standard Edition must complete one playthrough of the game to access them, acting as a suitable reward for making it through the night. Death rewinds, however, only work three times in a given night, giving the player an option to undo a death when it happens or save one of their three rewinds to use it down the road. At launch, they work quite well, returning the player to the last chance they had to save a life. Usually, this is right before a death, but can sometimes cause a player to be sent back a chapter or two — or even longer. However, this is currently being updated and soon, among other things, the rewinds will be more descriptive, likely telling the player how long they’ll need to go back. Overall, as someone who tends to force quit games when she makes a stupid mistake, I really appreciate being given an undo button in-game, even if I have to use it sparingly.
At the same time, why wouldn’t I want to use those rewinds whenever possible? The characters are a joy to be around. I’m still getting to know everyone as I make my way through the remaining ending states, but I already love them. None are quite as simple as they seem, with hidden depths and feelings that crop up in the right circumstances. While there were some that I didn’t like much as people at first, I mostly came around for everyone, even many of the antagonists. Sadly, the people that I found to be the strongest characters in my playthrough also happen to be a tad too close to certain end-game spoilers to mention, so I’ll instead move on.
While I’ve already spoken at length about a lot of the narrative and characters, I haven’t yet touched much on the presentation. Hopefully, the screenshots speak for themselves, but I’ll talk up the visuals for a moment anyways. The characters all look fantastic and very much like the actors voicing them, which is an incredibly impressive feat in its own right. Everyone is incredibly emotive while still looking like real people, a difficult balance for any animator and modeller to pull off. In addition, the scenery is just stunning. The water shimmers in the light and looks imposing in the dark, dust particles can be seen inside the older buildings, and I never found my immersion broken for even a second.
The music is just as good, thanks to both the composers and the incredible selection of licensed songs, many of which have quickly jumped onto my own real-life playlists. The acting, writing, and scenery are all very important when setting the tone, but nothing quite drew a chill up my spine or left me shivering in fear as much as the soundtrack. When I was first going through from the beginning, I found The Quarry with headphones almost too scary, but I was eventually able to manage, despite the music’s best efforts. However, as powerful as the audio experience was with headphones, I simply must recommend experiencing The Quarry on a large television, preferably with surround sound if that’s an option. That way, the game can feel even more like the movie experience it was meant to be.
Speaking of which, I should talk about the Movie Mode. With the base game, The Quarry offers players the ability to sit back and watch a non-interactive version of the story in three different styles. Watch a perfect run where everyone lives, a wretched one where everyone dies, or customise your experience by deciding how skillful, curious, and empathetic the characters are. All playable portions are truncated or removed, jumping from interaction to interaction. This felt a bit jarring to go to after playing through the game in full, as many of the areas felt a lot smaller this way. However, after some time watching, I found it easy to get lost in the storyline again.
Even so, I would recommend playing through either the single-player or pass-the-controller multiplayer options over the Movie Mode, if only because these make for a more engaging and engrossing experience. Walking around just waiting for something to happen often fills me with as much or more dread than any jumpscare, and there is a visceral feeling to holding down the button during each ‘Don’t Breathe’ segment.
Besides, while I haven’t yet succeeded in finding every collectible, I absolutely adored finding each and every one. There are various Clues in one of three categories that provide additional information around the game’s mysteries and then also Evidence, which are essentially larger clues that are a tad more plot relevant, even determining some aspects of the ending. There are also only 10 pieces of Evidence, with one appearing in each chapter save the prologue. It’s very fun to scour around the campsite and find each of these in the world, seeing what happens with them.
There’s one other collectible — Tarot Cards, one for each of the traditional Major Arcana — which are, interestingly, found by the player specifically; not the characters. All the player has to do is pass by an area and watch as the camera swaps to a different view with a close-up on a card and then press a button. The cards offer special readings as their descriptions, but their real value comes in between chapters, where an old woman offers to show the player a vision of the future relating to the cards they found. However, as the game goes on and more cards pop up in each chapter, it is revealed that the woman can only show the player one card’s vision. This adds a whole new element to The Quarry, where the player must determine what sorts of visions they might get from a given array of cards and pick the one they want to know about most.
No matter which cards are picked or which futures are chosen, The Quarry offers an incredible amount of fun in seeing how many different ways the same night can play out, more so than ever before. But even if someone only wanted to experience this game once, they would still have an amazing time with the title’s endearing characters, strong plot, and jaw-dropping visuals. Just, be careful how you play, got it? You won’t believe what you’ll become…
The Quarry (Reviewed on Windows)
Outstanding. Why do you not have this game already?
The Quarry’s charming cast and eye-watering visual splendour are worth the price of entry alone, but its strong, varying plot is where it truly pops.