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the quarry review for playstation 5 supermassive games the quarry review for playstation 5 supermassive games

Game Reviews

Supermassive Does it Again With The Quarry

The Quarry is a fiendishly fun time to have with friends, a playable horror movie with a fantastic cast told extremely well.



The Quarry Review

Developer: Supermassive Games | Publisher: 2K | Genre: Interactive Horror Movie | Platform: PlayStation 4/5, Xbox Series X/S, Steam | Reviewed on: PlayStation 5

All the way back in the year 2015, Supermassive Games pulled off a seemingly impossible hat trick with the PlayStation 4 exclusive Until Dawn, a cinematic choose-your-own-adventure horror movie where player characters could die at any moment, even as the story continued to surge forward. The game cleverly masked player choices behind teen slasher movie tropes, resulting in an extremely fun (and incredibly campy) experience that begged for an audience to be appreciated fully. Buoyed by incredible-for-the-time motion capture and decent replayability, Until Dawn remains a classic, one of the best exclusives for the platform, and a powerful example of a game that perfectly executes its concept.

Seven years later, Supermassive Games has released The Quarry, a similarly-styled game with a new cast, set in a different location. While The Quarry may not feel as novel as Until Dawn, it is the ideal example of an expertly-polished follow-up. Smartly cast and drop-dead gorgeous, The Quarry sets a new standard of interactive narrative.

“You’ve seen The Evil Dead, right?”

There is great delight to be found in how The Quarry nails its tone. From the opening credits sequence, as hapless teens Laura and Max wind their way up a mountain in the middle of the night, unaware that they’re being watched, as the sweetly sharp song “Thorn In My Side” plays, it is clear that Supermassive Games knows the drill. The Quarry, similar to Until Dawn, takes horror movie cliches (it is mere minutes into the game before the kids find themselves stranded in the woods with no cell phone service; the player can practically mouth along with Laura as she says “I think there’s someone out there”) and remixes them to great effect, and players who are familiar with the common plot beats and pitfalls of the genre will have an absolute blast right from the start.

Image: Supermassive Games

The Quarry throws tropes and cliches to the player with abandon. The game’s intro is brief, brutal, and to the point, and serves as a great primer on how movement, exploration, and player choice factor into the proceedings. Laura and Max, having swerved their car off the road to avoid colliding with something, are helped to safety by a cop who clearly has something to hide. After innocently asking directions to their destination, Hackett’s Quarry Summer Camp (the camp motto: “What does not kill you will you make you stronger!”), the officer urges them to head to camp in the morning and to spend the night at the Harbinger Motel. Teens being teens, they ignore the officer’s advice and head straight to camp. Their fate is, of course, sealed, and the action picks up again two months later with the rest of the main cast.

After months of fun, camp is finally is over, and counselors Jacob and Kaitlyn are packing up the van to leave Hackett’s Quarry and finally head home. They’re morose, in the way that only teens at the end of a long summer can be. Jacob’s brief fling with Emma has not ended the way he hoped it would, and Kaitlyn never worked up the courage to express her feelings to her crush, Ryan. The eight counselors have had to work extra hard this summer since Laura and Max never showed up to pull their weight. Kaitlyn convinces Jacob to sabotage their way home so that the group can have one last night together. Also in the mix are the artistic and sensitive Abigail, her dreamboat crush Nick, the sarcastic and witty Dylan, who is also into brooding, and introspective Ryan. It’s a good group, full of hormones, aching to blow off steam, and with their camp responsibilities over, the timing for one last blowout couldn’t be better.

But what sounds like a great idea in the golden light of the afternoon sun turns into a harrowing nightmare as the full moon starts to rise. After a disastrous game of Truth or Dare (has there ever been a game of Truth or Dare that has gone according to plan, either in a horror movie or real life?), the group splits up into different configurations to talk, flirt, fight, and explore their surroundings.

Structured nearly identically to Until Dawn, The Quarry is broken up into ten chapters of varying length. Chapters take place in different locations of Hackett’s Quarry, from the picturesque cabins to the stately main lodge to the moonlit lakefront. In every chapter, players control different characters and can wander each location to their heart’s content, or until they hit a cutscene that transports them elsewhere. There are dozens of collectibles to find that slowly unwind the mysteries of the Hackett family and the tragedies that surround the quarry, as well as hidden tarot cards that provide a glimpse of what could happen to certain characters in the future.

Most importantly, players make binary choices, over and over again, influencing the story and subtly shifting the course of the narrative. A seemingly off-the-cuff remark towards one character may sow a seed of mistrust that affects future decisions, or the choice to pick up one item over another can have huge ramifications later. These choices are the beating heart of The Quarry, and a compelling reason to play through the story again and again.

Dewey lives! Image: Supermassive Games

“We’re not in a movie.” “Well, how do you know that?”

Part of the fun of Until Dawn was the macabre sense of humor the game had towards its cast. Every teen was their own special brand of terrible (its difficult to top Rami Malek’s Josh exhorting his friends to “Party like we’re fucking porn stars!”), and there was a perverse satisfaction in seeing how grisly things could get before too many cast members died. Until Dawn leaned hard into its slasher film inspirations. The Quarry takes a decidedly different approach. A slower-paced narrative and an endearing cast makes The Quarry‘s storytelling much more engaging. Unraveling the tragedy of The Quarry is a delight, but it’s the ensemble that makes the game shine.

For a game like this, where just as much time is spent watching cutscenes as actually controlling characters, chemistry is everything. Special recognition should go to the casting director, as an ensemble cast is only as good as its weakest link; there are none here. The chemistry between main characters is electric, with banter feeling like actual banter and with hardly any stilted delivery. David Arquette makes a strong impression, as powerful a reference to the genre as Winona Ryder is in Stranger Things. The always-imposing Grace Zabriskie delightfully chews the scenery in between chapters in the same way that Peter Stormare’s Dr. Hill did in Until Dawn. The writing is solid, characterizing each teen and sinister side character with enough texture and flavor to keep players invested in every scene, which is fortunate as there is no way to skip or fast forward through cutscenes in The Quarry.

Even though The Quarry is awash in tropes, the game feels fresh thanks to the acting and frankly incredible motion capture and lighting. Every environment looks utterly spectacular, though some locations feel a little siloed off from one another. The horror elements really kick in during the latter few chapters, and it is to the game’s credit that even at its climax, events feel grounded and impactful. The terrifying haunted house vibes of some late-game locations contrast perfectly with the warmth and optimism of the counselor’s cabins in the afternoon sunlight at the beginning of the story. Art direction is consistent, certainly more straightforward than Until Dawn. With The Quarry, it’s clear that Supermassive wanted to stick to a few key themes rather than throw a little bit of everything at the player.

Image: Supermassive Games

“This isn’t a ghost story, it’s a creature feature, and you’re all in it!”

The Quarry is incredibly streamlined. Supermassive Games has spent years tinkering with its interactive narrative formula, and that expertise is at full force here. Everything, from camerawork to QTEs, feels extremely dialed in.

Until Dawn had an excellent push and pull of tension and release, while The Quarry feels more like a slow simmer up until its climactic ending. Though the aesthetic is clearly inspired by 80s slasher flicks (Hackett’s Quarry bears a more than striking resemblance to Crystal Lake), the story takes its time to build up dread over a few hours. Sure, there are jump scares, but The Quarry seems more interested in having players actually become invested in the entire cast of characters and their relationships to one another. This makes it all the more shocking when tragedy inevitably strikes and a playable character is suddenly in mortal danger. The stakes start off high, and only go higher the longer the night goes on.

Gameplay feels much more focused here than in Until Dawn or Supermassive’s recent The Dark Pictures Anthology series. The Quarry has robust accessibility options, giving players options to skip button mashing or lengthen the time provided to make significant choices. There is still room for improvement; for a game obsessed with filmic language, it is a baffling choice that players cannot fast forward cutscenes they have previously viewed, particularly in the game’s Movie Mode.

Movie Mode could be viewed as divisive, as it quite literally takes direct control away from the player. It is exactly what it sounds like: the chance to sit back and watch The Quarry as a series of cutscenes, completely cutting out any actual gameplay. No choices, no exploration, just every scene back-to-back. Players can choose to have every playable character survive, or have all of them perish; those who indulged in the Deluxe Edition can also enjoy the Gorefest option, where not only will every character die by the night’s end, they’ll do so in the most gruesome ways possible. There is also the intriguing Director’s Chair, which is Movie Mode with a compromise. Players can “direct” every character to act in certain ways when confronted with certain situations. Will Kaitlyn act decisively in a tense situation? Or will the player tell her to act less logically when panicked? It is fun to tinker with these options to see how different situations play out, even if it can be tedious to watch the same scenes leading up to a new outcome based on one or two choices.

Image: Supermassive Games

“This better have a great ****ing ending.”

It is inspiring to see Supermassive Games once again define what interactive storytelling can look like on the cutting edge of technology. The facial animations are astounding and the acting from the entire cast feels believable. The Quarry riffs on what Until Dawn established and emerges as wholly its own thing, and proves that there is still plenty of room in this space for different stories to be told.

Perhaps the greatest feature that The Quarry adds is dedicated couch co-op, even if said feature is laughably underbaked. One of the greatest joys of the last generation of gaming was getting a group of friends together and playing through Until Dawn like it was a screening of The Room, yelling at the screen and voting on the fates of characters. Upon selecting couch co-op, players divide up cast members, and pass the controller back and forth when those characters take the stage. Players might ask themselves if they really need the game to dictate when to pass the controller around, but that the feature exists at all is acknowledgment that The Quarry is infinitely more fun with an audience.

The Quarry ultimately does exactly what it sets out to do. It tells a compelling supernatural horror story and is genuinely thrilling once the momentum spins up. By keeping the scale small, the main hook of making different choices in subsequent playthroughs feels manageable. It is engaging all around, and a welcome return to straightforward storytelling.

Cameron Daxon is a video game evangelist and enthusiastic reader. He lives in Los Angeles, California and once nearly collided with Shigeru Miyamoto during E3. His favorite game is Bloodborne, but only when he’s not revisiting Super Mario World. He’s also in the writer’s room for YouTube personality The Completionist and other places on the internet.

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