Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S (reviewed)
Release date: June 10, 2022
The Quarry feels like a game you might have played before. Developer Supermassive Games has essentially made the same game five times at this point. If you’ve played Until Dawn or any of the three titles in the Dark Pictures Anthology, then you’ll know exactly what to expect from The Quarry.
Don’t mistake the above for a complaint. Supermassive has found a successful formula, and the British studio's particular brand of "playable horror movies" continues to be popular for a reason: they are bloody good fun.
The Quarry is essentially a spiritual successor to Until Dawn, as Supermassive's latest game has a larger, more recognizable cast, and longer average playtime than the Dark Pictures entries. When you consider that 2015 PS4 exclusive Until Dawn enjoys a cult fandom to this day, that’s certainly not a bad elevator pitch.
While The Quarry does have a few issues that hold it back from being a truly cinematic experience, it’s got more than enough spooky thrills and impactful narrative hooks to make it worth a rental, at least. Read on for our full The Quarry review.
The Quarry review: Story
The Quarry focuses on a group of nine teenage camp counselors. They must survive a night of pure terror after getting stranded at Hackett’s Quarry on the last night of summer camp. What starts out as an evening of debauchery descends into a nightmare, as a pair of blood-drenched hunters stalks the group. They also find themselves under attack from a mysterious creature with seriously sharp claws.
It’s a setup ripped straight out of an '80s slasher flick. While The Quarry absolutely tips its cap to the genre, the game also has a surprising amount of modern horror influences. These influences blend together into a slightly confusing, but mostly enjoyable, mix of straightlaced horror and over-the-top pulp. (The latter wins out in the end.) And while it’s never genuinely scary, The Quarry is plenty spooky.
As with previous Supermassive Games, your dialogue choices and the decisions you make at critical junctions directly affect the story. Often, the impact of picking certain options won’t reveal itself until later on, which adds significant weight to every call you make. You never know if you’ve just condemned a character to a grisly fate by making a rash decision in the heat of the moment.
Unfortunately, dialogue doesn’t always appear to reflect the choices you’ve made. This is presumably because the script isn’t wholly unique to each individual’s playthrough, but it does lead to some jarring moments. For example, I had one character declare, “in a few years, we’ll all laugh about this night,” which felt like a bizarre thing to say in the wake of witnessing one of her friends getting decapitated. I’m not sure any amount of time passing would make that traumatic event funny.
The Quarry grips you quickly, thanks to an excellent prologue chapter that sets the scene perfectly. After this, you meet the rest core cast, which includes recognizable names such as Justice Smith, Brenda Song, Ted Raimi, Halston Sage and Ariel Winter. Slasher favorite David Arquette is also involved, but despite top billing, he appears in barely more than a couple of scenes.
While the decision to cast well-known actors could have been gimmicky, much like in previous Supermassive Games, the recognizable faces add a cinematic quality to the game. Almost the entire cast puts in a strong vocal performance. There are a few rough spots, but these are mostly due to stilted scripting rather than a lack of effort from the talent.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment is the game’s very rushed conclusion. The Quarry isn’t afraid to take its time setting up the initial stakes, but it doesn’t give its ending the same luxury.
For example, in the final act, I accidentally got two characters killed, and didn’t even get to witness a single other character react to these deaths. This puzzling decision robbed my climactic (ill-judged) decisions of any real impact. The lack of a proper final cutscene is also disappointing. A small paragraph of text is all you get about each character's ultimate fate.
The Quarry takes around eight hours to see through to the end. Which feels like an appropriate length, just as you’re starting to tire of the repetitive chase sequences and contrived reasons the group is constantly getting split up, the story draws to a close. It’s just a shame that the conclusion isn’t more satisfying.
The Quarry review: Gameplay
Like Until Dawn and The Dark Pictures Anthology before it, gameplay in The Quarry primarily consists of quick-time events, dialogue choices and a handful of sections where you can move freely around small explorable areas, picking up clues and collectibles along the way.
The Quarry is most definitely not a title you’ll play for the gameplay but what’s here functions well for the most part. However, the free movement sections do suffer from clunky controls, and a camera that zooms in a little too close for comfort. It’s hard to investigate an area when more than half of the screen is dedicated to the back of your playable character’s head.
There are also a couple of puzzle sections. One of these, involving a breaker box, is downright infuriating because it’s so poorly explained. In fact, the game’s failure to sufficiently convey what it actually wanted me to do led to the death of a key character, which felt extremely unfair.
There are also quite a lot of chase sequences. This involves you watching the action on screen and completing a button press when prompted. They’re all very easy to perfect, because the game forewarns you ahead of each QTE popping up. In one of the chases, I purposefully missed a prompt to see what would happen, but my character still escaped unharmed, which made the remaining ones feel considerably less tense.
The Quarry also offers a new way to experience the game, called Movie Mode. This lets you watch the game unfold without needing to perform any inputs, and you can even set specific criteria beforehand such as “everyone lives” or “everyone dies." However, its inclusion is slightly baffling. Rather than watching the game play itself, you’d be much better off just streaming an actual movie. Without the wrinkle of player choice, The Quarry probably isn’t worth experiencing.
There is also a couch co-op mode that works by assigning each player an individual character (or a couple of them) to control. It’s a fun novelty, passing the control back and forth, and co-op is a great way to get your video-game-agonistic friends and family interested, as The Quarry requires very little gaming literacy.
The Quarry review: Visuals and sound
The Quarry is quite the looker under the right conditions. There are some sequences with slightly wonky animations, but there are far more moments that look almost scarily lifelike. At several points, it was hard to determine if I was playing a game or watching a movie.
The motion-captured performances are truly impressive, with subtle facial expressions and body movements. The voice acting is pretty much universally excellent, but I particularly enjoyed Zack Tinker as Jacob, a fratty jock type but with an easily-bruised ego.
The Quarry has some great audio design as well. Some well-placed sinister sounds really ratchet up the atmosphere, and The Quarry is definitely the type of game that is infinitely more enjoyable if you play it in a dark room with headphones on. The soundtrack is also well selected, but there’s an option to remove licensed music if you’re planning to stream the game.
Curiously, some scene transitions stand out for the wrong reasons. For example, one dramatic late-game moment segues into a lengthy shot of an empty corridor without any music. This was just one of several times where a scene lingers longer than you’d expect before cutting. Perhaps these moments are masking loading screens, but they stick out regardless, and hamper the story’s pacing.
I also experienced a bug where the game stopped unlocking Xbox Achievements around two-thirds of the way through. If you’re the type of person who cares about your Gamerscore, it’s probably worth waiting for a patch.
The Quarry review: Verdict
The Quarry is an easy recommendation for horror fans. Its choose-your-own-adventure narrative and simple gameplay are familiar at this point, but it’s a formula that Supermassive Games has perfected over the past seven years. The Quarry is the developer's most refined effort to date.
Like its spiritual predecessor, the real fun of The Quarry comes from replaying the game multiple times to see what different paths you can take. And since it's possible for every character to either live or die, you'll need several playthroughs to see every route of the game's branching narrative.
It's a real shame that a rushed conclusion blights what is otherwise an overall enjoyable experience. Nevertheless, The Quarry is the closest Supermassive Games has come to recapturing the magic of Until Dawn, and its combination of impactful narrative choices, compelling characters and gorgeous visuals should be enough to win over horror fanatics.