I absolutely loved Supermassive Games’ 2015 horror title Until Dawn. The interactive drama had intriguing supernatural lore and impeccable pacing that kept me engaged throughout the entire experience. Since then, I’ve been mixed on Supermassive’s output with its Dark Picture Anthology series, hoping that it could recapture the magic I felt with Until Dawn.
That’s the direction in which the studio’s upcoming game, The Quarry, seems to be going for me.
I went hands-on with The Quarry and played an hour of it. The preview build placed me toward the end of chapter 2, and I spent the bulk of the time in part of chapter 3. Just in that hour alone, I felt the same sense of fear and horror as I did with Until Dawn years ago. While the game takes place at the end of summer, it’s fitting that The Quarry kicks off this year’s summer of big releases.
I was given a quick rundown of the game’s intro and the cast of characters before going into the preview. The part of the game I played starts with the characters gathering wood for a fireplace. As the scenes unfold, I quickly learn the relationships and dynamics between each of them. Nick and Abigail have a romantic interest in each other. Jacob seems to be an insecure man who tries to come off as macho to cover it up and has an interest in Emma, who in turn seems to be somewhat emotionally manipulative.
Kaitlyn seems to be the most authoritative of the group, reminding the rest of the cast about things like how to properly wield firearms and scolding anyone who doesn’t do so. The only two characters that weren’t as memorable were Ryan and Dylan, mostly because, in this preview, they had the fewest number of personal cutscenes and interactions with the rest of the cast.
The Quarry is published by 2K, and right off the bat, I could feel that the game seemed to have a more substantial budget behind it compared to the Dark Pictures Anthology games, which are handled by Bandai Namco. The animation quality of the characters is better, their faces are more emotive, and the voice acting sounds improved.
Out of the entire cast, I think most people, including myself, will recognize Kaitlyn’s actor the most — the character is portrayed by Brenda Song from The Suite Life of Zack and Cody fame. Brenda’s performance stands out as particularly believable, most likely due to her years of acting experience. Overall, though, the solid acting across the board from the main cast of characters helps elevate the horror experience.
Summer camp horror
The actual gameplay begins in chapter 3. As night falls, Abigail gets stalked by a grotesque monster. As she gets hunted down, there are a variety of choices and quick-time events that appear. One false move could result in death. In one instance, Abigail has the option of whether or not to climb a tree. I chose to do it, and I participated in a few quick-time events that involved moving my mouse in a certain direction to reach the next branch. Others involved me continually pressing down a specific key.
However, my favorite one is where I had to hold down a key in order to hold my breath so the monster wouldn’t hear me. If I had accidentally let go of the tension, Abigail could’ve been killed right then and there. It reminded me of Until Dawn’s DualShock 4 controller mechanic where I had to keep it absolutely completely still so my character didn’t move while a monster stalked around them.
There are also choices that have a larger impact on the story. When Nick got attacked by the monster, I was given the choice, as Abigail, to either help Nick or run straight for the camp. I chose to help Nick and a text pop-up saying, “Path Chosen” appeared, indicating that this particular moment where she doesn’t leave Nick to die could affect other decisions later.
Abigail survived long enough to get help from the other campers, and I chose Ryan instead of Kaitlyn to delve into the woods to find Nick, who was still being chased by the monster. Armed with a shotgun, I also decided to take the normal path around the woods instead of the shortcut, out of fear that I would have to potentially complete more quick-time events, which would increase my chances of something going wrong. Shortly after, I was given the option to take another shortcut, which I did this time around. I successfully got through the quick-time events and saw a bloody Nick being dragged away — not by the monster, but by a mysterious new person.
At this point, Nick threatened the man and I entered a shooting sequence. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to land a hit on him, but Nick manages to escape from his grasp at the last minute. This also triggered a “Path Chosen” prompt, but I couldn’t immediately deduce what kind of impact it would have on future events.
All of these different decisions and actions provide a feeling of suspense, as you only have a limited time to complete each one. Most of the binary choices I made felt equally viable; should I keep running or climb the tree to avoid the monster? You’ll never know whether or not you made the “wrong” choice until you see a character get killed.
An approachable experience
In between the chases, there are calm moments of exploration. All around Hackett’s Quarry are news clips and items that tell the history of the area and events that previously happened. The items provide a context for what’s happening in the game. There are also collectible tarot cards that add some extra bit of lore.
The Quarry has a bevy of options to make the game approachable and accessible. For example, you can change the subtitle size and also put a yellow background behind them to make them easier to read. You can also adjust how much time you have for quick-time events, as well as choose whether to be able to simply hold down buttons instead of having to continually press them.
I came away from my hour playing The Quarry impressed. The chase sequences and horror elements reminded me of why I loved Until Dawn so much. The presentation is nice, and the characters have distinct personalities. Amazingly, I don’t find any of the characters annoying (yet). Most of all, I’m glad that we have an actual monster this time around with potentially engrossing lore behind it.
The Quarry is billed as a spiritual successor to Until Dawn, and so far it looks like it just might live up to that lofty claim. We’ll see how it shakes out when it launches on June 10 for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
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