The Quarry is the latest offering from Supermassive Games, and it’s available now on Steam. As someone who’s played Until Dawn and covered past releases such as Man of Medan, Little Hope, and House of Ashes, this was right up my alley. However, while The Quarry has a lot of twists and turns, and even more gruesome deaths, it suffers from the same pitfalls as its predecessors. In fact, some of the issues are even more pronounced.
Before we continue with our review, let me point out that I’ll try my best to avoid major spoilers. Still, I’ll add some tidbits about how the ending is presented, as well as some comparisons to previous games.
This one time at band camp
The Quarry takes place in Hackett’s Quarry Summer Camp. What might seem like an idyllic lodge nestled in rolling hills and lush forests hides a deeper, darker secret. Camp counselors Laura and Max are on their way there when the unthinkable happens.
The game then switches to the perspective of the other counselors: Abigail, Emma, Jacob, Kaitlyn, Ryan, Dylan, and Nick. There’s also Chris Hackett, played by David Arquette, who owns the lodge. Just as the kids are about to leave, someone messes up and Chris has to head out. What follows is a harrowing ordeal, as a relaxing evening in the woods leads to untold nightmares.
As with previous releases, The Quarry isn’t going to win any awards for writing. At best, you can expect your usual Hollywood tropes like the dumb and carefree jock, the sassy blonde who toys with the boys, the shy introverts, and others. Sadly, it falters even further when you start thinking of how relationships among the characters could develop (I’ll go further into detail in a while).
At the very least, The Quarry can be visually and atmospherically stunning at times. Darkness fills your surroundings, tension builds in the air, and sudden noises are bound to surprise you. Moreover, most character models are masterfully rendered, often matching the actors who portrayed them. My only gripes are with the hair physics and water textures, as these can appear very rough.
Choices and consequences
Following the formula of Until Dawn and The Dark Pictures Anthology, The Quarry heavily relies on the choices that you’ve made and the consequences that you have to live with. In effect, every single character in the game (playable and supporting) can die. Some decisions can have dire ramifications later on. Likewise, there are a multitude of quick-time events (QTEs), aim-and-shoot moments, and Don’t Breathe minigames. Failure can, naturally, lead to an untimely demise.
Perhaps one major change that veterans will notice now is the new Death Rewind mechanic (available only if you purchased the Deluxe Edition or once you’ve completed the campaign). Should a character die, the game is paused and you’re asked if you wish to revert back to an earlier state, perhaps changing your decision or succeeding with the QTE. You’ve only got three “lives,” so to speak, but these can be used in conjunction with backup saves.
We’ve already been through this
One particular issue I’ve had ever since I played Until Dawn was how Supermassive never allowed you to skip cutscenes. I would’ve wanted this feature to get unlocked, say, after beating the game. Unfortunately, that’s still not present here. The closest comparison, the Chapter Select feature available after a full completion, only brings you all the way back to the beginning of each section.
Without a backup save, it becomes a chore to rewatch and redo everything in case you missed a collectible or wish to see a different outcome. Given that this is already the developer’s fifth game and there seems to be no improvement at all, this might be a limitation that will never get addressed.
Tarot cards and premonitions
The picture frames or premonitions that we’ve seen in the past are now in the form of tarot cards. Once collected, you won’t be able to view these immediately. Instead, you’ll need to complete a chapter to have a meeting with a mysterious woman named Eliza.
If you have more than one tarot card, Eliza asks you to choose. In doing so, a vision of a possible future event is revealed to you, and you might find out if a character will die due to certain actions or inaction. You may also watch this scene via the menu later on.
I feel that this is a thematic and worthy inclusion, one that made me feel more engaged in the setting. The only downside is that you can only watch premonitions that you’ve selected beforehand even after beating the game. I actually had to create and reload multiple backup saves (i.e., the moment Eliza asks me to pick a card), because that’s the only way I could see those cutscenes.
The building blocks of relationships
The Dark Pictures Anthology titles usually have around five to six playable characters. Storywise, they’re people who’ve known each other for a long time. And, while conflicts can arise, relationships are mostly set in stone. In The Quarry, the teens have known each other for two months, and there’s a sense that their relationships are budding. You’ll see things such as a summer fling gone awry, yet one party wants to make it work, or people who are often flirting with each other.
Unfortunately, this is a bit illusory. As the game progresses, there are moments that don’t make sense. For instance, two people who might be flirting in Chapters 2 and 3 would, suddenly, no longer care about each other in Chapter 8 (they might even imply that they like someone else). There’s also the case of two lovers who are very supportive of each other. Then, later on, there’s an implication that one is being partnered with a different character.
I had to scratch my head a few times after seeing dialogue play out, considering that there was no input from me on how they turned out. It felt as though some bits and pieces were missing, with earlier chapters turning out to be filler.
Perhaps the most glaring issue I’ve had with The Quarry is how the campaign ended. In past titles, there’s usually a scene where survivors would contemplate the night’s events. They might be under interrogation, or there’s a cinematic showing what had happened to them.
In The Quarry, you’re simply shown an image of the characters and their respective fates – i.e., “Abigail was killed by so-and-so.” Since you already saw that beforehand, then summaries acting as “endings” don’t quite cut it. Following that, the end credits have a podcast recounting all the clues/evidence you’ve found in a poor attempt at humor. It also casts doubt on the “186 endings” marketing ploy, given that not all characters have an equal number of death/survival scenes.
In relation to the above, The Quarry suffers from having a bloated cast where not everyone gets a chance to shine equally. Of nine playable characters, one is out of the equation as early as Chapter 5, and the other is only playable for a few minutes in Chapter 10. Two characters have a lot of possible death scenes in multiple chapters, whereas the rest can only meet their end much later. Lastly, at least three are protected by plot armor so there’s no way they’d get taken out until Chapter 9 or 10.
Teens and terrors
The Quarry’s campaign can be completed in 10 hours or less, though, in my case, I had to reload/save scum often to see various outcomes since I was writing guides. There are thrills and scares to be had, sure, comparable to Until Dawn and The Dark Pictures Anthology. I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed a huge chunk of my playthrough. Moreover, you can try Movie Night, where the game automatically plays akin to a movie. There are even settings that let you tweak character personalities for dialogue and choice purposes.
Unfortunately, The Quarry is still bogged down by old pitfalls, limitations, and design — unskippable cutscenes, slow character movement, and the lack of an option to turn off motion blur. Worse, it’s hampered by nonsensical character relationships and a lackluster ending that leaves you unsatisfied. Relish the tense atmosphere and frantic moments, but be prepared for disappointments that will come your way as you get closer to the conclusion.