Supermassive Games has a reputation for offering some of the most fun truly cinematic experiences in gaming. Gaining a lot of fame for Until Dawn, and continuing its momentum with the ambitious Dark Pictures Anthology, Supermassive is, in many ways, returning to its roots with The Quarry. We got to spend a couple of hours with the game recently, but now, after having played through the whole thing, we’re finally ready to talk about The Quarry.
Since The Quarry is primarily a story-centric game, we will be doing our best to keep spoilers to a minimum.
The Quarry’s setting is simple: a group of young adults—camp counselors—have decided to spend one extra night at Hackett’s Quarry—a summer camp for kids—after all the children have left, celebrating the start of their new lives on the verge of adulthood. Something sinister lurks in Hackett’s Quarry, however, and things quickly start going horribly wrong for our group of intrepid heroes.
Taking turns in playing as each of the characters in the same time frames—letting you experience the same story from multiple angles—you’ll be working your way through the mystery at Hackett’s Quarry, and more importantly, try and survive through the night.
"Gaining a lot of fame for Until Dawn, and continuing its momentum with the ambitious Dark Pictures Anthology, Supermassive is, in many ways, returning to its roots with The Quarry."
It’s incredibly easy to compare The Quarry with Until Dawn, since both games feature situations for a group of young protagonists, and much like Until Dawn, there’s no guarantee that any of the characters in The Quarry will survive the experience. In fact, The Quarry is so open about this fact that it features a Movie Mode, which allows you to experience the whole game’s story as a movie, with you deciding beforehand whether the protagonists survive the events of The Quarry or not.
In a departure from its recent Dark Pictures Anthology line of games, Supermassive has decided to focus on a much smaller setting this time around. Hackett’s Quarry isn’t just one location in a globe-trotting adventure. Rather, the studio wants you to get really intimate with the setting, ultimately being able to understand where everything is, relative to the map. This change to a smaller scope helps The Quarry quite a bit, since a familiar setting becoming alien offers up a much better horror experience than stumbling into a spooky place you don’t know anything about.
The Quarry isn’t hoping to be a seminal work of psychological horror to be compared with genre-classics like Silent Hill 2 or Resident Evil. Rather, The Quarry is going for a fun, teenage-slasher horror movie vibe. Despite being fully-fleshed out characters, all of the protagonists quite easily fall into categories that might feel obvious to anyone who’s seen a classic horror movie. To that end, The Quarry leaves behind many of the more experimental storytelling attempts made in The Dark Pictures Anthology, opting for a simpler story.
If, after reading all of this, you’re still wondering what kind of story you can expect from The Quarry, the prologue alone will let you know exactly what to expect for the rest of the game. It features, among other things, two characters that are obviously not going to survive the prologue, a ghost, and a creepy policeman. Rather than feeling absurdly cliched as it otherwise would, however, The Quarry manages to build up a surprising amount of tension before the main story even kicks off.
"With the central concept of having to survive through a night in a potentially-haunted forest filled with monsters and strange hunters, the pacing ends up being quite well done in the long run."
The pacing might feel a bit off, however, as things slow back down right after the prologue, and it isn’t until a couple of chapters in where The Quarry starts kicking into high gear. With the central concept of having to survive through a night in a potentially-haunted forest filled with monsters and strange hunters, the pacing ends up being quite well done in the long run. It just starts off slower than we would have liked.
On the gameplay side of things, if you’ve played any other game by Supermassive, you’ll feel right at home. The Quarry is heavily scripted, and so the interactive is largely limited. There are a few parts here and there that allow you to explore your surroundings, and you might even have a gun to defend yourself, but these are few and far between. Most of The Quarry is quiet exploration, contemplation, conversations with other characters, and quick-time events.
Rather than being a lazy game design choice, quick-time events are the main methods by which The Quarry adds any tension or sense of danger to its situations. These aren’t complicated quick-time events; you’ll often have to, for example, dodge a branch as you run through a forest, or catch a gun tossed to you by another character. Thankfully, the timings on The Quarry’s quick-time events are fairly generous. Failure doesn’t mean instant-death, however. Failing at quick-time events is considered as making a choice in The Quarry, and could have consequences down the line.
Considering the focus on its story, The Quarry needs to rely on the strength of its actors’ performances to get the most emotional reactions from its players. Featuring an all-star cast, including former-WCW World Heavyweight Champion David Arquette, along with other stars like Ariel Winter, Brenda Song, and Ted Raimi, The Quarry isn’t particularly lacking in the acting department. In fact, the actors have had to pull off not only offering facial motion capture, but also convincing voice acting.
"Thanks to the limited level of interactivity, the art team can focus on creating gorgeous tableaus in just about every scene in The Quarry. It is quite possibly the best looking Supermassive Games release yet."
Which brings us to talking about the graphics. It’s quite obvious that the style of gameplay Supermassive Games focuses on leaves a lot more options for the graphics department. The Quarry is a gorgeous game, with phenomenal facial and motion capture, as well as great lighting. Thanks to the limited level of interactivity, the art team can focus on creating gorgeous tableaus in just about every scene in The Quarry. It is quite possibly the best looking Supermassive Games release yet, which is no easy task when you consider how good any game in the Dark Pictures Anthology looks.
All of these graphical bells and whistles have more value than just making the game look good, however. Thanks to the expert acting and motion capture, characters feel quite human. The Quarry is able to capture smaller imperfection in its characters, allowing you to see minor facial tics, and how facial expressions can change quite believably in difficult circumstances. These smaller details help The Quarry feel truly alive; it sparks empathy for the characters involved and encourages a deeper level of engagement with its story. If the characters feel human, you start rooting for them. You want them to make it.
Ultimately, The Quarry isn’t trying to do anything new. On the contrary, it feels like a return to its roots for the studio. Leaving behind the experimental storytelling that Supermassive focused on during its Dark Pictures Anthology, The Quarry focuses on a smaller story, but one that ends up feeling more engaging and human, thanks in no small part to phenomenal acting and gorgeous visuals. While its gameplay isn’t going to set the world on fire, it does its job in adding the right amount of tension and giving just the right level of interactivity for even non-gamers to have a good time. The Quarry is an all-round good time for anyone that loves a good horror romp, especially for fans of classic horror.
This game was reviewed on PC.
Excellent graphics, great acting, strong story,
Pacing issues during initial sections.