I’m a fan of Supermassive Games and their style of cinematic games. I thoroughly enjoyed Until Dawn, and their Dark Pictures Anthology games and eagerly awaiting The Devil In Me, which is the last game in Season 1 of the Dark Pictures Anthology series. That’s why when The Quarry was revealed, I perked up and it instantly got my attention.
Ok, I was confused first and foremost.
After all, The Devil In Me wasn’t out yet but there’s already another whole new game from the developer? I know it makes sense to work on multiple projects but it was still a confusing announcement. I actually thought at one point that The Quarry was part of the Dark Pictures Anthology.
It’s not though. It’s a standalone title (published by 2K Games instead of Bandai Namco like The Dark Pictures Anthology) though it shares a ton of similarities with that series and Until Dawn.
Does it share the awesome quality though?
Find out by reading on.
What is The Quarry?
The Quarry is a cinematic Choose-Your-Own-Adventure third person horror game. It’s developed by Supermassive Games, and published by 2K Games. It’s currently out on the PC, Playstation and Xbox consoles.
One interesting thing to note is that on the consoles, the game doesn’t have a free upgrade (or downgrade).
If you bought the last generation version, you don’t get the PS5 or Xbox Series X|S versions and vice versa. You’ll have to buy the upgrade ($14.10 as of this writing) though it doesn’t apply to Xbox Series X|S/ Playstation 5 owners who want to downgrade and get the Xbox One/ Playstation 4 version.
Our copy of the game was kindly provided by the awesome team at 2K Games Asia! Thanks a ton for the review code guys!
Like some of Supermassive’s other games, The Quarry has some star power behind it. David Arquette (the Scream movies), Lance Henriksen (Aliens, Millennium) and Ted Raimi (Hercules: The Legendary Journeys , Xena: Warrior Princess) might not be big AAA stars but chances are you’ll still have seen them here and there in a couple of major Hollywood movie roles.
I’m personally a fan of Henriksen (who only gets a minor role in the game sadly) and Raimi, so to see them together in a game is a huge bonus…though I wish that Supermassive Games had gotten Bruce Campbell in as well. He’s a perfect fit for this!
The Quarry shares a lot of similarities with Until Dawn and the Dark Pictures Anthology that you’d be forgiven into thinking that this was a sequel to either series. Like in the other games, the choices you make affect the story.
Some have immediate consequences, others far reaching ones you’ll only see come into effect later on. Other similarities include QTEs (Quick Time Events) that also affect the plot and discoveries that slowly fill up the game’s lore for you to get a fuller picture of what’s truly going on.
As a horror experience (there’s really not much ‘game’ to The Quarry), it’s a great one.
Using a mixture of fixed camera angles (which evoke Sam Raimi’s kitschy style of horror) along with a third person over the shoulder view, the game manages to convey tension and suspense really well, especially since it’s you at the helm.
That doesn’t mean the plot’s not full of questionable actions that are forced upon you.
Here’s an early (spoiler free) example.
In the Prologue, two of the characters reaches the Hackett’s Quarry main camp in the middle of the night, only to find it deserted. The guy goes back into the car and starts it, awaiting the girl (who you control).
Instead of giving you the option to leave in the car (like anybody with a sensible mind would) and go find a hotel to stay the night in, you’re forced to explored the deserted house to advance.
There simply is no way you can leave.
For a game that harps on giving choices to the player on how the story plays out, I can’t believe such an obvious one was excluded from the options.
There are other numerous times actions that I want to do wasn’t part of the equation. Logical ones, like fleeing or not investigating a weird noise or sighting. Nope, no can do.
If the developers want you to do something, there’s no other choice but to do it…logical or not as it may be.
In that regard I guess, giving the player choices is a bit misleading.
You’re only given choices on what the developers want you to do, not what you’d (or other logical people) would do. Sure, it encourages replayability (because you’ll want to see the different outcomes) but it takes away a lot of the believability.
That gripe aside, I did have a good time with The Quarry.
It’s a solid horror tale and the familiarity I had with other Supermassive Games’ games served me well. Unlike some of the games Supermassive Games’ done, The Quarry doesn’t depend on jumpscares to keep your adrenaline pumping. There are a couple of them in the game, but not so that it detracts from the suspense and atmosphere.
The acting’s pretty decent so that’s a plus. It helps that the writing’s pretty good and believable, with smatterings of humor here and there.
One of my favourite instances is an exchange between two characters.
One guy goes, “Swarm of bears? Herd of bears!”
The other, with a deadpan delivery and very confused, “Yeah I’ve heard of bears…”
It got me cracking up because of it’s pure absurdity, completely unexpected in a suspenseful circumstance.
Unfortunately, the stereotypical characters are a bit of a bore.
You have the jock, the wise cracking nerd, the loner, the insecure girl, the bimbo/bitch, the hardass and the quiet one. Sounds like a Friday the 13th movie cast right?
The game’s definitely going for a summer camp slasher/ creature feature flick feel, though it misses the point on a few things.
While there’s violence, the gore could be more copious. There are some choice scenes with cool visceral violence but they’re rarer than you’d expect. Some of the kills are awesome but some…meh.
Plus, there’s no nudity. At all. That’s sacrilege for this type of genre! The game’s already rated only for adults, so why isn’t there nudity?
Not everything is as it seems, despite appearances to the contrary. Some of the twists are pretty cool, though I managed to figure out correctly quite a bit of the plot from early hints. That’s why, one of the best things the game has going for it is Movie Mode. It’s a mode that makes the game like a movie where everything happens without you input. You just sit back and relax and enjoy the show.
In this mode you’re given 3 options; Everybody Dies, Everybody Lives or Director’s Chair. The first two options are self-explanatory. It’s a cut of the game that everybody either dies or lives. Director’s Chair gives you some control but not is not as interactive as the main game itself.
Movie mode is a great idea…though it’s execution on the Xbox needs work. Unfortunately, the console doesn’t detect that you’re watching a movie (in a game). Since it registers The Quarry as a game, power saving features are enabled by default. Due to that, after a few minutes of inactivity, they kick in. That means darkening of the screen and pop-ups. After a while, the console will shutdown automatically due to inactivity.
Sure, you can disable these in the Xbox’s Settings menu, but I turn them on for my sake and I’m not going to fiddle around with settings every single time I want I use the game’s movie mode.
It’s a major deal breaker and ruins what is an awesome mode. A patch is definitely needed here.
I do wish that Supermassive Games had tried to break out a bit of their established routine though. The Quarry shares more than a passing resemblance to Until Dawn (with its Wendigo plot).
It’s a good thing for me because I love Until Dawn, but I wager that there are tons of fans who want the developers to shake things up a bit…because seriously, out of all the possible horror tropes out there, they pick something that’s similar to something they’ve done before.
The Quarry should’ve Supermassive Games try out something new and innovative, yet it’s like a page out of their regular handbook.
You get button mashing QTEs, you have your shooting sequences, you have split second choices that decide your action (or inaction if you don’t do anything) and you have your directional prompts (where you have to move the analog in a certain direction). New to the whole family is the Holding Your Breath parts.
These usually happen when you’re hiding from something or somebody. All you have to do is hold A, which makes your character hold their breath. Letting go of A at the wrong time means you fail the sequence. It’s easy to pass (as the screen will be clear of the red tint) but sometimes you’ll want to fail these sequences to get the optimal outcome.
In between all the QTEs and the choices, you’re usually given some time to explore the immediate surrounds of where the characters are at. These take place via 3rd person, sometimes with an over the shoulder camera, sometimes with fixed perspectives.
All you need to do in these cases is explore and find the next scene trigger to progress. Therein lies one of the game’s biggest issues for me; not being warned that doing something would progress the story. Some warning would’ve been much appreciated in this regard.
You can collect clues and tarot cards (which gives you hints on future events) during these sessions. Tarot Cards are pretty important, with one (The Hierophant) being particularly essential as it unlocks a special flashback scene that’s otherwise inaccessible.
Still, sometimes triggering the wrong interaction (as I did many times during my first run) progresses the scene, which means all the collectibles in the area (if any) are automatically missed. Until you replay that is.
Considering that the collectibles detail a ton of the game’s backstory, it’s pretty essential to nab as many of them as you can to get the full picture. Missing out on even one can lessen your enjoyment of the game because a crucial part of the lore is missing.
Technically, the game’s performance on the Xbox Series X|S is a bit of a disappointment.
There are clear framerate drops in scenes, especially during fixed camera angle sections. Whenever you trigger a change in the camera angle, there’s sometimes visible slowdown.
You can easily tell because the animations get a bit of a stutter.
Considering there’s no ray tracing at work here and the game doesn’t really take place in huge open areas that would tax the console, I can only surmise the issue is the engine wasn’t fully optimized for the ‘new’ consoles.
This too was an issue in the Dark Pictures Anthology games, so it’s one that Supermassive Games have known about for quite a while. Whether they can’t fix it (due to the limitations of the current engine) or won’t fix it is anybody’s guess.
Textures and the lighting also suffer from pop-in, despite the SSD on the Xbox Series X|S.
Just take a look at this capture I got from the game.
Notice the lighting and textures only resolving after the scene is rendered? Sometimes they would be blurry or non-existent at first pass, only to resolve into their proper resolution a split second later. It’s really jarring and takes you out of the zone.
I thought the SSD in modern consoles rendered this sort of thing a thing of the past? Apparently not.
I also found the game much too dark, despite already adjusting my TV’s HDR and brightness settings beforehand. Most of the time you’ll be wondering around in darkened areas with no light source too, which can make navigation tricky.
I’m not saying everything should be under a spotlight but more light couldn’t hurt.
The Bottom Line.
The Quarry has all the trademarks of a Supermassive Games production.
It’s got a tale full of consequence and really good atmosphere. Your choices do matter, though sometimes what you’d personally want to do isn’t a choice.
Unfortunately, for all its good parts, The Quarry is also saddled with familiar downsides.
The plot loosens its grip when you’re in the last quarter or so, when you pretty much have the answers to the story. It’s a bit of a letdown honestly. Not Man of Medan or Little Hope levels of disappointment (thankfully) but still disappointing nonetheless.
The leadup to the last quarter of the game definitely isn’t as exciting as it could, with tame set-pieces like the Junkyard or the chase through the house that should’ve been much more adrenaline pumping than they ended up being.
Also, accidentally progressing before you’re ready is still as irksome as ever. Supermassive Games really should implement a warning system of some sort. Seriously. This is like their fifth already with this issue!
Then there’s of course the technical issues
Good horror story with meaningful branching paths in the first parts but it loses steam near the end. Technical issues also detract from an otherwise great experience.
- Decent plot.
- Acting was passable.
- Great writing.
- Character facial animation really expressive.
- Loses steam in the last quarter.
- Plot is too similar to Until Dawn.
- Technical issues detract from the experience.
- Gameplay style is starting to lose its appeal.