Horror can be something of an acquired taste. After all, not everyone enjoys being scared or the various forms of entertainment that evoking said feeling entails. Gore, jump-scares, and terrible special effects are all reasons why people don’t like the genre, yet they’re the main reason that so many people become attached to it. The Quarry is something of an interesting beast for horror fans. It plays like a meta-narrative about movie tropes at times but has a beating, bleeding heart stuck in the 80s slasher-movie boom. Does that mean it makes for a good game? We took a deep dive into the game to find out.
The Quarry – A Familiar Feeling
The Quarry is an interactive movie adventure game set in the titular locale of Hackett’s Quarry. In the classical style, you control a bunch of Summer Camp Counselors who are just done packing things away for the summer. Before long, events transpire to keep you trapped at the camp for an extra night, something that the man in charge seems very concerned about. Despite being told to stay inside all night, your rowdy teenage characters decide to have one last night of partying, and because this is basically an 80s horror movie, it goes about as well as can be expected.
The game was developed by Supermassive Games, the same team that bought us Until Dawn all the way back in 2015. Clearly, they have a bit of a knack for this sort of thing, and they’ve even said that The Quarry is a spiritual successor to the original Until Dawn. Obviously, that last claim is a bit mad. After all, how many developers have tried to make a spiritual successor to their own game before? Of course, the fact that the Until Dawn IP is owned by Sony is probably the last clue you’d need to that particular puzzle. With their child being held captive by PlayStation, Supermassive Games has run off with 2K to publish their next….child. This analogy has broken down on me a bit quickly.
A Game, or Not a Game, That Is the Question
The biggest question that comes with any interactive movie like The Quarry is if it even counts as a game in the first place. Realistically, that’s sort of hard to answer. There are a lot of moments where you’re expected to wander around a location finding items to interact with, but it’s also pretty easy to forget that you’re playing a video game during some scenes. You do have control over the storyline in the form of the choices that you make, but you are also going to be spending a fair amount of time just watching stuff happen with no power to do anything about it.
On that note: yes, the game is chock-full of QTEs and mini action set-pieces that you have to do to progress the story in various directions. Luckily, because the folks at Supermassive Games care about their players, the accessibility menu is filled with options to limit the severity or completely remove these action sequences for players who feel they get in the way of the story or who struggle with such moments. This is honestly a great feature that more games need to have. A lot of games can be ruined by QTEs, and odd action set pieces that are at odds with the mostly narrative-focused game.
The Quarry – Choices, Choices
Being mostly narrative-focused, the way that you have an effect on events is by making various choices at pre-determined points throughout the plot. While many games in the same vein as The Quarry claim that your choices will have consequences, they rarely manage to pull it off. Luckily, this is one of the times where that claim is totally justified. Your different choices can make the game’s storyline play out in radically different ways, including the deaths of major characters that can really shake up how future events are supposed to shake out.
Just because your choices have consequences doesn’t mean they all have to make sense. A fair few times in the game, the decisions seemed pretty arbitrary, such as where to hide in a particular room. Unless you’re clairvoyant, then you’d have no way of knowing which of the two are likely to result in a bad outcome. While that’s less of an issue during the early game, during the late game, these decisions can get your characters killed, and it really doesn’t feel like you have much of a chance of stopping it, which is sort of another problem that the game has going for it.
Death Everywhere and Nothing to Do About It
Your first time through the game, chances are that you’ll make a decision that results in someone dying. After all, this is a horror game, and people dying is sort of the entire point. The thing is that in most cases, almost any amount of deaths will result in an ending that either feels completely underwhelming or like you’ve just taken 10 hours of game-time to get a game over. Luckily, there is a system in place that can help you with this called the Death Rewind System. This mechanic lets you rewind time when a character dies back to the point where you made the decision that kills them.
The issue? This feature is only available on your second playthrough of the game. While that sort of makes sense since the game is very heavily built around being replayed numerous times, however, you can get it on your first playthrough if you pay extra for the deluxe edition. That means that either the developers thought this was a feature that made sense on your first playthrough, and it was removed to make the deluxe edition more appealing, or the developers didn’t want it in your first playthrough but put it in the deluxe edition anyway to make it more appealing. Neither of these are great options, and that’s when we get to the replayability issue.
You Can Replay The Quarry, But Would You Want To?
As I said above, The Quarry is sort of built around the idea that you need to replay it. More than one playthrough is necessary to figure out what’s going on and come out with the best outcome where everyone survives, and you prove your character’s innocence. The problem with that is that every time you replay the game you have to watch all of the cutscenes again, including ones that you’ve already seen. There is no option to skip cutscenes at all, not even a way to fast-forward slightly or rush through the dialogue to get to the decisions.
This is easily the biggest flaw with the game, and it’s also found in the chapter select options you’re given. Once you complete the game, you can select a chapter from your playthrough to start again. However, there is still no skipping of cutscenes at all, and once you’ve selected the chapter, the chapter select menu disappears again until you’ve re-completed the entire game. This means that if you want to change a single decision in Chapter 2, then you’ll need to replay through the other 6 hours of the game to be able to select a chapter again.
The Quarry Has Movie Modes Abound
One set of extras that make a lot of sense for The Quarry is the inclusion of Movie Modes. These modes allow you to literally watch the entire storyline play out in various different ways. You can have everyone live, everyone die, or even manually alter everyone’s personalities, so they act however you want them to do in various situations. This is a great inclusion for a game that feels so much like a movie already, though it also completely fails to grasp the basic fact that in most movies, you can pause, fast-forward and rewind as much as you want.
There appears to have been a big aversion to including any sort of features that might give you control over how fast events are proceeding. This makes the idea of replaying the game at all a total chore. Despite all of the cool modes and the amount of effort that has gone into the game, I don’t want to sit through the opening again, having to listen to mostly the same lines and see mostly the same events take place throughout. But with no way of skipping through or choosing the point I want to start, I can’t see myself picking up the game again in a hurry.
It’s Not All Bad Though
I don’t want to give off the impression that The Quarry isn’t worth your time. If you’re a horror fan and you don’t mind rewatching some of the same scenes a few times through, then you’ll be able to extract a lot of fun here. The performances are coming from genuine actors, and that comes across. When these performances are combined with the stellar graphics, it really does feel like you’re watching a major motion picture rather than playing a video game. There were genuinely times when I thought that the game had suddenly swapped to actual live-action footage, even if the very occasional uncanny valley moment did bring me back out of it again.
There’s also a lot to love in terms of music. The score and soundtrack are both handled very well, playing to specific moments just right and choosing specific pieces of music that evoke the right sort of emotions. There are even several different tracks for the end credits that reflect the ending that you got. My personal favorite was the ending that gave me a happy-go-lucky sort of song that was just completely juxtaposed against the grim horror that had taken place during the course of the game.
The Quarry – In Conclusion
When all is said and done, there is a lot of stuff to like in The Quarry. It’s a decent horror story filled with the kind of tropes that you’ll love if you’re a fan of the genre, and with the actors involved knocking their performances out of the park, you can really get lost in this experience. However, the game seems psychotically obsessed with making repeat playthroughs as painful as possible, failing to provide any way of quickly skipping through things you’ve already seen, even in movie mode. If you have a lot of patience and just really love horror, then you will definitely have a fun time here, but everyone else will probably be turned off by the idea of playing the entire game again to fix the ending they got the first time.