‘The Quarry’ Review: Giddy And Grisly Horror In Its Finest Form Yet
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Featured Image Credit: 2K Games
The Quarry poses an unexpected yet easily resolvable question: what lengths would I go to if I needed to rescue my boyfriend, Skyler Gisondo, from danger?
Read ‘em and weep, fellas, read ‘em and weep. Skyler Gisondo. Should’ve moved faster. Anyway. Throwing nine camp counsellors into the maw of a narrative NutriBullet, mixing ‘80s horror tropes, gallons of gore, and caustic humour, this game is one of the most entertaining experiences in the choose-your-own-adventure genre.
Check out the trailer for The Quarry here!
The Quarry doesn’t stray from the tradition of sweltering summer slashers, introducing the player to an unfeasibly attractive cast of characters unaware that their night of hedonism is about to take a terrifying turn.
Kaitlyn (played by Brenda Song) is kind of the “mom” of the group - sensible, plain-spoken and won’t hesitate doling out sarcastic comments should one of the boys err on the side of machismo. Expectedly, Jacob (Zach Tinker) is often on the receiving end of said snark. He’s hiding his insecurities (plural) with a big show of bravado, concealing that he’s heartbroken over Emma (Halston Sage) dumping him on the last day of summer. She’s a content creator with an enormous following online, flaunting a devil-may-care air that is Jacob’s kryptonite. That same enviably positive personality affects Abigail (Ariel Winter), though it’s much more of a sisterly relationship, as artsy Abigail isn’t as confident as the other girls.
The object of Abigail’s affections is Nick (Evan Evagora), and they’re well matched because he’s a tad more reserved, however he does have an unfortunate tendency to follow the loudest member of the group. Oftentimes, Dylan (Miles Robbins) fulfils that role as he’s always looking for the last laugh, even if it’s a little unnecessary. Actually, let me be more specific: he’s always looking for the last laugh from Ryan (Justice Smith), the loner of the group who takes time to defrost from his learned self-reliance.
Chris Hackett (David Arquette), the leader of the summer camp, puts the responsible Ryan in charge when the group’s car breaks down, preventing them from leaving the lodge on the night they’re meant to. And lastly, there’s Laura (Siobhan Williams) and Max (Skyler Gisondo), a committed couple made up of an extremely intelligent prospective vet student and Max. He’s very sweet.
Though Chris is adamant that the counsellors spend their final night inside as hunting season has just started, the group does the opposite, pinching alcohol to party ‘til the sun rises. The shadows of the forest are shrouding sinister secrets, and soon the counsellors are scattered, tracked by horrifying hunters that won’t stray from their prey.
Gosh, why are you spending so much time telling us about the characters, aren’t they chewy cannon fodder for the quick time events? Yes! Perhaps they are. To some. Not me. While Until Dawn created characters centred around a certain slasher film trope - like the nerd, the athlete, the mean girl - the characters of The Quarry are much more rounded, relatable, and realistic.
For example, Jacob is very immature, Kaitlyn can be too cold, Max snaps at people when he’s under pressure. None of them are dislikeable, not totally, and so the choices to ensure their survival are much more burdened with pressure. The camerawork is a lot shakier here too, using angles low to the ground in some instances, giving a sixth sense that there is something hunting these characters just out of your field of view. An unsettling single-player experience, to say the least.
The Quarry’s developer Supermassive Games has named this game as a spiritual successor to Until Dawn, yet there are a number of evolutions on the predecessor’s gameplay. There is no longer an option to say nothing and the relationships between characters are no longer visible in the pause menu. What you will get is a situation specific notification if a character is becoming impatient, or starts to trust you, or is surprised by your actions.
If you explore the surroundings, there are items that infer clues as to what happened at Hackett’s Quarry before our counsellors spent the summer there, and these might trigger Paths that lead to a beneficial or bloody end. Paths are recorded on pulp horror VHS tapes in the pause menu which, if you keep checking them like I did, will remind you what you need to look out for later on.
At points, the player might be offered the opportunity to Interrupt what is going on. It’s not necessary though. Sometimes it might be better to keep your mouth shut or stay your trigger finger. Quick-time events involve pressing a button or moving the stick to avoid a certain outcome from occurring, and if you were one of the players who cheesed Until Dawn’s “Don’t Move” challenges by putting the controller on the coffee table, have I got tricky news for you.
The Quarry’s “Don’t Breathe” requires the character to hold their breath to throw enemies off their scent when being stalked in the dark. It maintains that terrible tension of “Don’t Move” both metaphorically and literally, because if you let go of that button at the wrong moment, it will alert hunters to your hidden position. You might have the luxury of looking into the future regarding those sections and how to succeed at them, however, as there are Tarot Cards scattered across Hackett’s Quarry.
These are the missing possessions of an odd woman with a raven who will read one of the reclaimed cards to reveal what might happen in the smoke of her crystal ball. These meetings occur between Chapters in the story and, depending on the card you choose, will pertain to different parts of the game. Choosing the Moon revealed an escape route if I picked up an item hidden in a locker. Choosing Death reveals… well… a death. Played by Grace Zabriskie, this soothsayer’s superiority is a humorous change from the achingly stale commentary of the Curator from Man Of Medan, Little Hope and House of Ashes and is much closer match - thematically speaking - to the Psychologist from Until Dawn.
And the writing is so enjoyable, from surprising twists to the trepidation as the clock creeps closer and closer to dawn, made all the better by the naturalistic delivery from actors who appear to be having as much fun in their roles as I was determining the fates of characters. “You know, I’d lose my head if it wasn’t stuck on,” said one. Several hours and a couple of QTEs later, they were missing their head. Who’d have thought?
Come on, that’s funny. The Quarry goes easy on the cheese. There’s a sprinkling to ensure you savour the moments when the fourth wall isn’t broken but super smashed up like the Kool Aid guy did a number on it. This, combined with the style of the user interface that insinuates the whole thing is in fact a creature feature that you’re watching bathed in the icy glow of an early ‘90s telly, makes the experience both terrific and terrifying.
The issue with a game of this scale is that I played as some of the characters for a long time and some of the characters for no time at all. That could be due to the choices I made. There were also moments where the story would offer me “Hide or Run” - for example, I would choose “Hide” and the events that followed would transparently suggest that “Run” was the choice it “wanted” me to opt for.
There is a huge amount of gore in this game, and the fidelity of the art direction means that it is shocking to see grievous injuries or deaths. There’s also the use of needles, if that isn’t your speed. Furthermore, there are descriptions of a travelling carnival show using the word beginning with “g” - I’m not a part of that identity and so I’m unable to say whether or not that representation is neutral, or negative, or damaging. I’ll say that any specifically weighted comments on that community didn’t feature in my playthrough.
On the technical side of things, the game looks great, but it did suffer screen-tearing and the occasional glitch causing the characters to repeat their speech. I mean, I guess it’s more realistic that terrified teens stumble over their words?
Rewarding those who are restrained as well as those who are reckless, The Quarry is nerve-shredding as a single-player game - so who knows what chaos will ensue with its multiplayer modes? The sheer number and the intricacy of the possible paths have tempted me to see what happens if you choose a different course of action, and the Easter eggs are too satisfying to discover. There’s even an Until Dawn Easter egg, for the love of Mike! For fans of schlocky yet satirical horror games and films, The Quarry is not one to miss.
Pros: Genuinely very funny, well-rounded characters, a rollercoaster ride from ridiculous to hair-raising
Cons: Minor graphical and technical hiccups, not enough time with certain characters
For fans of: Until Dawn, Oxenfree, Stories Untold
Game reviewed on PC with preview code provided by the publisher. The Quarry releases June 10, 2022 for PC, Xbox Series consoles, Xbox One, PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4. Find a guide to GAMINGbible's review scores here.