Recently, The Quarry released. This was made by Supermassive Games and was hailed as the spiritual successor to their hit ”Until Dawn.” With Until Dawn being a masterpiece as one of the greatest horror video games ever, The Quarry had big shoes to fill.
Did it fill those shoes? Let’s talk about it, starting with what it did well before transitioning into its shortcomings.
The cast of characters is quite strong
The characters the player will be playing as are a group of camp counselors who get held back a day from leaving their campground at Hackett’s Quarry. Really, all of them are quite enjoyable for their own reasons. Kaitlyn Ka (Brenda Song) tends to mostly assume a leadership role amongst the team a d Emma Mountebank (Halston Sage) inherits the ’hateable character’ trope amongst others. Of course, it would be remiss to forget the biggest name of them all in David Arquette who was tasked with voicing Chris Hackett, the head of the camp. Overall, there wasn’t really one particular standout character like with games from Supermassive’s past, but they were all fairly enjoyable in their own way which contributed to making the game memorable.
The narrative is simple and enjoyable
This is a classic werewolf horror story. It is almost exactly what you’d expect, with the full moon rousing these beasts, who can potentially spread their infection to humans- if they’re not too busy devouring them whole, that is. Classic cases of a character venturing off by themselves to certain danger, doing silly (sometimes dangerous) things to win over a potential lover’s heart and teenager drama that puts people’s lives in danger are on tap in this story. Sure, Supermassive didn’t invent the wheel, but the story overall is lacking of any serious flaws and does a good job keeping the player’s interest.
Player choice truly changes the events of the game
Supermassive Games has claimed that are a total of 186 unique endings to The Quarry. For interactive story games, this has traditionally been a simple marketing ploy. After all, if a leaf falls off a tree in one playthrough that didn’t fall off in another, that technically means the experience is already unique, right? That isn’t the case here, as Supermassive wasn’t selling us on a white lie; there are actual meaningful differences created by player choice that can create an entirely unique playthrough of the game. Many decisions the player makes will cause the deaths of NPCs, or playable characters. They could also change the outcome of the game as a whole, significantly warp the personal relationships characters have with each other or even completely change the player’s perception on who the good and bad guys are. Overall, The Quarry has replay value as a major selling point, and it’s all because Supermassive Games actually went to the effort of creating such a variable experience.
Otherwise known as QTEs, they haven’t been particularly problematic throughout Supermassive Games’ existence on the video game market. Here, however, they add quite a lot to this particular game. The player will have several opportunities to shoot something, be it a werewolf, a person threatening to do the same, or something else. It is actually very easy to fail these QTEs, but it’s also very fun just engaging with them and adds some real tension and action to these interactions. Non-combat QTEs are now not based off of button press, but instead based on scrolling or pushing a control stick in a specific direction. This keeps the player engaged while keeping the interactions fair and relatively simple to succeed at.
The Quarry unfortunately doesn’t quite hit on everything. Let’s assess where it falls short.
There is a distinct lack of actual horror
The werewolves are certainly intimidating, but less in a scary way and more in the sense that there’s a need to gather all the resources the player can to eventually eliminate them. From a horror standpoint, it would’ve been better for the characters to be utterly helpless and vulnerable for awhile rather than being armed with multiple long barreled guns and a couple pistols before the threat even shows up. This would’ve created a real fear of the werewolves if the player had less tools to actually fight them back. It would’ve made for more instances of needing to hide or flee from the threat, things which build the player’s fear, rather than giving them the ability to simply pass a couple QTEs and completely kill the threat off immediately.
Overall, while the distinct lack of horror doesn’t seriously detract from the broad experience, the game was marketed as a horror game. As such, it should be judged as a horror game, and The Quarry doesn’t have it, plain and simple.
The Junkyard Scene
During Chapter 9, Kaitlyn and Nicholas Furcillo (Evan Evagora) venture into a junkyard, aiming to retrieve a usable engine they can use to leave Hackett’s Quarry. This entire seauence was a massive detriment to the game’s pacing. The area is predictably very poorly lit, very large, designed like a maze and the player is given no clue as to where they should go at all. After all, it’s a junkyard- the player wasn’t intended to search every single car for an engine, but where are they supposed to go? It’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack- a very dark haystack that functions like a labyrinth.
In The Quarry, if a character dies, once the scene ends, the player will be given the opportunity to try the scene again as to save the life of the character who died. They can choose to do this a maximum of three times per playthrough.
Sure, this one isn’t a serious detriment to the game, as the player could very simply choose not to use it. However, the game was clearly balanced around this option, which is somewhat concerning. There are multiple QTEs which result in quick death upon just a single failure, which can seem unfair at times. The respawning system was clearly intended to balance this out and give the player a second chance. It has a major tendency to hinder immersion, and it would’ve been a better idea to simply reduce the individual weight for QTEs and remove the respawning system altogether. For example, instead of killing off a character the first time the player shoots and misses a werewolf, perhaps have the werewolf injure the character instead. This could hinder their capabilities down the road, still punishing the player for messing up, but not so harshly. Alternatively, if the player fails a crucial QTE, perhaps their character could get injured, only they then have to pass another QTE which would be slightly simpler, but would be lethal upon another failure. This would give the player a little more leeway while not completely taking away the penalty for failure.
Overall grade for this game is going to be a B. It ultimately fails to come close to living up to Until Dawn’s greatness, bu is overall a solid entry from Supermassives Games. If you’re looking for a thrilling horror experience, keep searching. If you’re looking for a neat de-facto action shooter with an interactive story, this game is for you.
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