With The Quarry, Suppermassive Games and Publisher 2K have released a "game film" in the truest sense of the word. The teen horror format from the creators of Until Dawn mostly lets players sit passively on the gamepad, but repeatedly prompts them to make important decisions.
Teen horror movies - you either love them or you have them. There is nothing in between. It's similar with the new horror adventure game The Quarry. Because the developers rely on the clichéd setting, you either have to like it or not. A lot depends on it: whether you buy the game at all, for example. In any case, with 186 end, the title has a lot to offer if you have fought your way to the start. But then it quickly becomes clear that it's worth it.
Dumb, dumber, teenagers in horror movies
The car key that slips out of the victim's fingers once, twice, three times at the most inopportune moment? Stupid. The moment when a teenager maneuvers herself into a dead end? Stupid. Answer the serial killer's questions in detail on the phone instead of quickly calling the police? Stupid. Horror sometimes works with the simplest means and the filmmakers don't always proceed in a subtle way. In particular, horror files about teenagers are rarely known for their depth. It's usually about a good dose of humor. The core of the new game distributed by 2K is no different - but with The Quarry the great idea often shines through.
Admittedly, the basis for the story of The Quarry is not particularly innovative. Supermassive Games throws a bunch of handsome teenagers into a summer camp in the woods. Then the horror comes. There is no shortage of events that are initially eerie, then dark, then terrifying – and sometimes brutal. And the clichés are not neglected either. Fans of the teen horror genre should celebrate The Quarry for the stupidity of the protagonists known from film formats. The developers use the obvious - and stage the horror fun in the youth camp accordingly.
The characters correspond to the clichés: pretty influencer, muscular mountain with a baseball cap, quiet young people with creative ambitions, class clowns with stupid ideas. At the beginning, the main characters appear terribly one-dimensional - no depth. And then - step by step - the story unfolds in the summer camp Hackett's Quarry and the characters of the teenagers are presented scene by scene in a more complex way. Nothing in this game is quite as obvious as you think at the beginning. In fact, the characters grow on you, you don't want to miss any of the teenagers. So it's about survival - that creates tension.
Playfully, The Quarry is shallow. The narrative sequences are loosened up by exploration scenarios. The player must choose the currently active character - you can optionally pass the gamepad for the couch co-op mode! – steer through the spatially limited setting and usually look for clues. They then drive the story forward or reveal details about what was or what might be yet to come. You can learn more about the camp, collect tarot cards or evidence. Again and again, players then have to make decisions that add up to one of the 186 endings in a row. Among other things, the decisions are about actions or the undertone of an answer - anyone who knows teen horror films can often anticipate which of the two choices is the more stupid. Nevertheless, you often catch yourself wanting to save the main characters rather than sacrifice them. This is not least due to the character drawing, which only looks like a pure teenage cliché at first glance.
Things get a bit hectic with the quick-time events: sometimes pressing a direction button, sometimes holding a button and releasing it, sometimes wildly hammering on the button – Supermassive Games uses the feigned game activity in the rummage box. There is rarely really much to do at The Quarry. A blemish? No! Whoever plays The Quarry plays it because of the perfectly good story and because of the many decisions that have to be made. The fact that you mostly sit passively on the gamepad is sometimes even an advantage. As a player, you always have the story in view, concentrate on the events, pay attention to the details of your surroundings. Rarely are video games as compelling as The Quarry, though the idea hardly deserves the "game" label. Rather, it's like watching a fairly long horror flick - only that you can iron out some of the stupidity here.
The interspersed tutorial videos, in which the genre is made fun of in short comic sequences, are really funny – and really relaxing. The Quarry feels a lot more like "game" when you have to aim the weapon. This feels a bit overdriven, can be assisted by auto-aim, and may be a bit challenging, but at least more exciting than the quick-time events. You can only really fail with the latter if you have put the gamepad out of reach or if you want to intentionally destroy a character. And if it tears a beloved main character apart, the rewind feature helps in the second run - or optionally immediately with the deluxe edition. In the expensive version there are also some film filters as a bonus - not a must, but at least a nice bonus for genre fans. In particular, the indie horror filter with graininess and the black and white style are impressive.
The card reader also provides an interlude again and again. She predicts the possible future based on the found tarot card - this is conceptually known from Until Dawn. By looking into the crystal ball, players receive information about possible outcomes of the story threads and can adjust their actions accordingly.
It's always the hair
Staged, The Quarry is quite opulent. The events are mainly supported by the grandiose technology. The surroundings are atmospheric, suitably illuminated, whether detailed. The characters are also a feast for the eyes. However, you have to make smaller cuts: the eye movements appear - typical for computer games - artificial, the teeth as well, even if their optical quality is much better than in Until Dawn - it shows a further development.
Here and there, in the close-ups, the figures have strange facial twitches or contort themselves in ways that contradict the anatomical possibilities. The motion blood effects, i.e. background blur, also need improvement. This often seems exaggerated and sometimes even clearly recognizable. There are gaps in the characters' hairstyles. In any case, hair remains an unnatural element in computer games – even in The Quarry. When strands of hair move in the wind like cleaning rags dangling from a clothesline, it comes across as involuntarily funny. Even the "thin hair" of many a character makes you smile. Nevertheless: The Quarry looks great and runs smoothly. It's good for the atmosphere - and Supermassive proves that development steps are being taken, which gives hope for even more graphic opulence in future games.
In any case, the characters are recognizable, not least because of the prominent cast. Real actors were cast for the roles, including horror veterans like Lin Shaye (Insidious) and David Arquette as camp manager Chris Hackett. Also in attendance are Lance Henriksen (Aliens), Justice Smith from The Get Down series, as well as Skyler Gisondo (Santa Clarita Diet) and Ted Raimi (Spider-Man). That makes for fun, especially because the synchronization is also successful. There is an extra portion of flair in the English original, if you play localized you have to make deductions in the B-note. Sometimes the lip sync also leaves a lot to be desired. What is convincing: you can often read emotions in the faces of the characters. A small detail, but with a big impact.
The Quarry occupies the player for around ten hours per round. So maximalists can drastically increase playtime due to the multitude of endings. The average player will dare a second, maybe a third attempt - at some point the air will be gone. Even if it's worth it for the varied turns and endings: It's repetitive in the long run, because you know the core of what's happening. But despite all the frustration about repetition, it is worth at least one more round. Because as a player you know that the story can sometimes differ significantly if you make different decisions. Here one more victim, there a changed social relationship – that motivates.
Number of players: 1 (up to 8 in co-op)
Age: from 18 years
Playtime: 20+ hours
Long-term motivation: medium
Subgenre: Survival Adventure
Developer: Supermassive Games
Official Website: Link
Year of publication: 2022
Platform (Test system): PC Steam, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Cost: 70 Euro
The Quarry is a successful experiment: being a film without a film, a game without a game. Somewhere in between is Supermassive Games with its teen horror adventure - in the spirit of its predecessors Until Dawn or Dark Pictures. So don't expect too many new things. The developers stick tight to the laced corset. At best, technically, The Quarry makes a decent leap. The settings look fabulous, the characters are impressive just because of their prominent faces.
If you have started the game on the console or the PC, the atmosphere sucks you into the action. Just stop? At least on the first run, this works as badly as on a movie night with Scream, I know what you did last summer and Co. That means: You first want to know what it's about and what else happens to the "victims". So there is permanent tension, and that is exactly what keeps you going. The Quarry offers little in terms of play and even that little is annoying at times due to the notchy controls. The sometimes unfavorable camera perspectives can be excused conceptually, but the shots provide tension because you often don't know what to expect around the next corner.
Graphics, sound - especially the soundtrack and dubbing are terrific. Even if you find small weak points in the optics that Supermassive still has to work off. The developers rely on the tried and tested, not on innovations. You can blame the team for that, but in the end what's on offer just works too well. Thrills abound, the cliched characters even have profound moments, virtual blood spurts and flows galore, and endings are more than the average gamer will ever see in their gaming career. With The Quarry, Supermassive and 2K have drilled a thick board - the teen horror game certainly offers a lot of entertainment.
It gets good in the couch co-op mode, which adds a real social layer to the action. Because everyone decides about "his" or "his" characters, there are discussions about the actions and the consequences. That has real added value, even if the group shouldn't exceed three or four players at best - because then it becomes really passive for the participants.
By the way, you shouldn't be too disappointed when you start at The Quarry and, if in doubt, keep playing: The story and events pick up speed. With all the horror - sometimes subtle, sometimes obvious - the game fails a little at the level of the monsters. That would have been more in terms of the disgust factor. Nevertheless, The Quarry has a lot to tell in the end - you should enjoy that, because you rarely delve so deep into the stories of video games these days. Why? Because, curiously enough, you are far too busy with the gameplay and progress. The Quarry therefore turns its supposed weakness of playful passivity into its greatest strength.
If you like it even shallower, you can "play" The Quarry in a movie mode - the focus is then even more on the story - the mode then impressively proves where the real strength of this horror title actually lies.
Last updated on 26.01.2023/XNUMX/XNUMX / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. * = Affiliate links. Images from Amazon PA API