Game Review: The Quarry Digs Deep and Finds Gold
No one can dispute that back in 2015, Supermassive Games delivered a deeply satisfying horror gaming experience with Until Dawn. In the years that followed its initial release, Until Dawn became a much-loved favourite among PlayStation 4’s console exclusive titles and rightly so. But after Until Dawn’s hugely successful release, Supermassive Games have failed on multiple occasions to re-capture that creative spark. Seven years on and 2022 see’s the release of The Quarry, Supermassive Games’ newest interactive experience even acting as a spiritual sequel of sorts to Until Dawn. Can Supermassive Games re-capture that spark that has been presumed lost and is The Quarry become another deeply satisfying horror experience?
The Quarry finds a group of counselors at a Summer Camp in Hackett’s Quarry banding together any and every way they can to survive the night from what seems to be a vicious pursuer. Sound familiar? Much like Until Dawn, The Quarry focuses on decision making and quick response to inevitably act as the decider in the endangered fates of these young counselors. Everyone can live and everyone can die but once again, The Quarry aims to present an interesting new outcome with every playthrough.
The counselors are all what you expect from a developer like Supermassive Games who wore their 80’s horror and slasher movie influences on their sleeves for all to see with Until Dawn. A group of young adventurous adolescents who embody all the ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ of any 80’s slasher flick. These counselors consist of strong upcoming talent like Ariel Winter, Halston Sage, Sklyer Gisondo and Justice Smith to name but a few. All our counselors are brilliantly portrayed and surprisingly, I found all these counselors (and I genuinely mean all) extremely likeable in different ways thanks to some great writing.
Genre legends like David Arquette, Lance Henriksen, Ted Raimi, Lin Shaye and Grace Zabriskie all make strong appearances that send those nostalgia feels up your spine too. Even comedy regular, Ethan Suplee makes an impactful appearance as a hulking brute that will be sure to put the heebie jeebies in most gamers when all the lights are dimmed in their room. Supermassive Games must be commended here as they have done a phenomenal job at assembling a cast that could deliver that horror goodness convincingly without hesitation.
But when it comes to gameplay, Supermassive Games have thankfully ‘perfected’ their signature QTE heavy style. Exploration is still very much a part of the experience, but Supermassive Games have opted to focus on your decisive inputs as the means of survival here. Gone are the multiple input methods available in the likes of Until Dawn and replacing them is a system focused on just the use of your left stick and mainly the x button on PlayStation controllers.
It may seem lacking at first, but it thankfully cleans up the experience knowing what you must focus on as opposed to previous Supermassive Games titles that had you not knowing when or what button would appear on screen before scrambling to avoid death. It isn’t groundbreaking or anything, but it gives way to a more fluid (if minor) experience.
The story here is the crème de la crème though. Graham Reznick who worked on Until Dawn’s story returns with Will Byles and Alex Farnham for this outing and it really helps to have Reznick back in the writing hotseat given his absence from both Little Hope and House Of Ashes from SG’s The Dark Pictures Anthology. Just like Reznick and Larry Fessenden offered a unique take on the Wendigo lore, here The Quarry’s writers have once again offered another unique take on a different kind of horror experience.
The first half of The Quarry has that creepy Deliverance or Just Before Dawn vibe, but the second half is a completely beast altogether. Reznick, Byles and Farnham have crafted a story that only gets better and better as it progresses as we, the audience, learn more about what is happening. It is infectious writing that ensures longevity something SG’s more recent titles have been missing. The final third is so well crafted I found The Quarry ended just how I wanted it to, which is a rarity these days with video games.
The Quarry is also an extremely ambitious visual feat. Character models look and genuinely feel real throughout The Quarry’s eight-hour long story and the graphics are to such an extreme high standard that sometimes I forgot I was even playing a video game. The location settings are perfectly ripped straight out of an 80’s slasher movie and are brought to life with immense graphical detail. It’s easy to admit that The Quarry may be one of the greatest looking games I’ve ever played and if this is a sign of the future – the future is bright.
The Quarry is also deliciously violent for those gore hounds who crave a true video game fashioned with slasher stylings. If one of these counselors does end up succumbing to a violent end, you will either grimace in shock or smile that wide tooth grin at the bloodshed on display. Even when the story presents more unexpected shock moments you will find yourself smiling uncontrollably at the unpredictability of The Quarry. Unfortunately, talking too much of unexpected plot proceedings would start to divulge into spoiler territory I think any fan should just experience for themselves but believe me when I say, The Quarry may just be an even greater horror experience than its much-heralded predecessor, Until Dawn.
I have personally been a Supermassive Games fan since Until Dawn’s triumphant release but I have always felt anything that followed lacked the creativity flowing through that first successful venture. The Quarry on the other hand is a phenomenal horror game that fans of Until Dawn are sure to embrace with open arms. A true return to form that solidifies the understanding that Supermassive Games are not just a one hit wonder.