What A Terrible Night To Go Camping
Coming off the narrative high from their latest entry in The Dark Pictures Anthology, House of Ashes, Supermassive Games doesn't miss a beat with its most recent project. The Quarry was what many considered to be a "spiritual successor" to Supermassive's earlier hit, Until Dawn. It's not farfetched to see why. Both games feature a predominantly youthful cast as they attempt to survive the night at a camp with multiple horrors awaiting them. The end result, coming from someone who hasn't played Until Dawn, is a charming experience. As far as first impressions go, it was a far more enjoyable one compared to House of Ashes.
There are many similarities between all three games, specifically Supermassive Games' impressive use of "star power." In House Of Ashes, we had Ashley Tisdale play Rachel, one of its central characters. In The Quarry, David Arquette plays the role of the camp's head counselor. Ted Raimi voices the Sheriff who is one of the first obstacles the players will come across in the game. Having the voices of actors who played iconic roles in Scream and Evil Dead 2 respectively gives insight on Supermassive not pulling any stops.
The Quarry Is A 90s Teenage Slasher Video Game Film
Much like House of Ashes, there are various accessibility options for players who wish to enjoy The Quarry's story (bars) without the hassle. There's also an included "Movie Mode" in which players can watch the entire game with two scenarios. A scenario where everyone lives and one where everyone dies. Also, like House of Ashes, there's a co-op mode where players can take control of a chosen character until their death.
The Quarry begins with a young couple, Max and Laura, on their way to Hackett's Quarry as camp counselors. Their trip is already going well as not only are they lost, but the GPS map is cut off. This causes Max to swerve into a ditch, in which Laura investigates as he fixes the car. Even before the player moves around, the motion capture and graphics are leagues better than in House of Ashes. The characters all have realistic expressions and are as close to accurate to the actors portraying them as possible.
The Tutorials Are All Instructional Videos
As the player progresses in The Quarry, several tutorials are introduced via the game's creative "instructional video" montage. The first one explains how QTEs work while another explains the consequences of choices made and exploring your surroundings. These videos are comically done, with the protagonist featured in the video suffering a very violent fate. This help serves to break the tension, as The Quarry does not mince measures to make the player feel uncomfortable.
The first on-foot section, and the character the player will control in the prologue, is Laura. Laura and Max have a distinct dynamic in which Laura "wears the pants" of the relationship. She's inquisitive, always wanting to investigate, and finds herself in unwarranted predicaments. The first is a ghostly figure muttering the name "Silas," over and over. It's impossible to die here (I tried for curiosities sake) but failing QTEs will affect Laura's appearance. Bruises and being covered in mud are just some examples, but the QTEs proved to be as simple as pressing a direction.
The Quarry Embraces Its Modernity
There are numerous ways that The Quarry pays attention to detail, specifically Laura's camera phone. In most games, like Silent Hill, a flashlight is used to light the way of a dark path. In this game, Laura uses her camera phone light in this regard, making this a believable experience. After all, technology has made several advances since the 90s and you're more likely to be equipped with a phone than a flashlight. There are no "battery life" or anything of the sort. The player can move the phone and the light source with the right analog stick, showing hidden objects and keys to note. Unfortunately, the camera seems to be locked in place, moving alongside the player.
Eventually, Max gets the car running when they are stopped by a very irate police officer. This is the role that Ted Raimi plays, yes, the brother of Sam Raimi. The same Sam Raimi who created the Evil Dead franchise, which The Quarry wastes no time in referencing. Raimi shows his experience as a veteran actor well, giving the player an ambiguity of his motives. He seems pissed off about something completely unrelated, but he's amiable to at least help the couple should they be amicable in return. Of course, the player can decide to cooperate or be defiant and untrusting. I went with a mix of both, although whatever action you choose, Max and Laura will continue to disobey.
This Action Will Have Consequences
Following a series of decision-making, several "paths" can be set which tease a consequence later in The Quarry. Choosing to be defiant, lying to the officer, and overall pissing him off will cause the sheriff to grow impatient with Laura. Likewise, character relationships determine the fate of everyone in attendance. In each chapter, the player takes control of one or multiple characters, each action affecting the entire cast sooner or later.
The player will get to see everyone's personalities as each character is surprisingly in-depth. Despite how cheesy The Quarry makes itself out to be, these characters are more than "walking cliches," and have personality types unique to them. Max, again, is cowardly as he usually remains reserved and introvertive. As the player spends the prologue playing as Laura, she's prone to take initiative. This causes a clash between the couple, which also teases a later conflict.
"Does THIS LOOK LIKE THE MOTEL TO YOU!?"
At the end of each level, a woman will appear who reveals herself to be a tarot reader. She will inform the player of their progress much like the gentleman in House of Ashes. If the player collected a tarot card, she will read the card as well as give a hint on the next chapter's biggest conflict. Chapter 1's conflict showed a car set on fire, giving a player insight that this is a major event to look out for.
Sure, The Quarry is no Life Is Strange True Colors, but bias aside it's a well-put-together experience. The characters are actually humanlike, there is a looming mysterious threat that's present, and everyone is connected in some way. I don't usually say this often especially considering how much I hated Heavy Rain (That's a story for another time...) but The Quarry captured my interest. We'll see how this pans out.
The Quarry is available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC.