Since Supermassive Games’ Until Dawn was released in 2015, it’s grown into a cult classic in a lot of circles. Fans of slashers movies, fans of choice-based narratives, fans of Hayden Panettiere and Rami Malek–Until Dawn featured something for everyone and carved its spot in horror gaming canon. But just like the myriad of sequels spawned from cult classic slasher films, Supermassive Games’ successors to Until Dawn in the form of The Dark Pictures Anthology have proven to be polarizing for audiences. Many have stated that the new games haven’t replicated the accomplishments of the OG or built off of the foundation that it set.
In comes The Quarry. Published in collaboration with 2K, Supermassive Games took the bold move of explicitly labeling it as the spiritual successor to Until Dawn, bringing in star power such as David Arquette, Ted Raimi, and Lin Shaye to boot. With a group of hormonal teens in the woods and creatures growling in the horizon, the formula is there–but did it pay off this time around?
If you needed any indication that The Quarry is essentially a teen slasher movie that you inject yourself into, let the opening scene of ominous shots of the woods accompanied by Ariana Grande’s dreamy track “Moonlight” set the mood. Familiar tropes will appear; should you listen to the overbearing cop, portrayed with the perfect eccentricity that you’d expect from Ted Raimi, telling you to avoid arriving at camp one night early? Hell no! There’s a creepy locked basement with strange noises coming out of it? Of course you’ll traipse into it (all while referencing The Evil Dead). It’s immediately clear that The Quarry has nailed the quirky tone that campy slashers typically employ, and genre lovers will surely get a kick out of it.
The premise is familiar yet fresh, and after a tense prologue that leaves the fate of two hapless camp counselors in limbo, you step into the daylight three months later to meet the rest of the crew. Taking place at the conclusion of the summer at Hackett’s Quarry Summer Camp, seven counselors end up having one last hoorah on the night that they’re supposed to leave after lovelorn jock Jacob sabotages the camp van to spend more time with social media influencer Emma. They’re joined by other living archetypes: mysterious loner Ryan (Justice Smith), headstrong tinkerer Kaitlyn (Brenda Song), and shy and artsy Abigail (Ariel Winter) to name a few, but not camp director Chris Hackett (David Arquette), who abruptly jumps in his car and zooms off. Do they heed Chris’ warning to stay indoors for the night? Of course not!
The first couple chapters serve as an opportunity to get to know each of the characters, explore the camp, and undergo a handful of gameplay tutorials. Overall, these chapters lend a slow-burn feel as the sun begins to set and the fun begins, but at times, it can feel very slow. While you aren’t watching cutscenes or interacting with objects in the environment, the most you do in these chapters is either make inconsequential dialogue choices or encounter mundane QTEs (quick-time events) to the extent of catching something that another counselor has tossed you. The sense of danger feels largely non-existent, and if you aren’t jiving with the counselors, this section of the game could feel like a bit of a slog. I found myself laughing out-loud at some of the one-liners, cringing at others, but most of all, craving the moment that it started to feel like my choices were the deciding factor of whether someone lived or was decapitated.
Luckily, once the sun set, the fear factor rose.
The horror of The Quarry landed in the middle for me–there are some pretty brutal kills (with one kill in particular being one of the gnarliest kills I’ve seen in horror media) and some intense chase scenes, but overall, I found it more suspenseful than anything else. It’s effective for a casual audience. If you’re a huge horror fan, there are a handful of moments that will definitely scratch the itch, and if you’re a bit more apprehensive about the thought of being so scared that you’ll pee yourself, The Quarry never pushes the boundary of being utterly terrifying. I found myself more intrigued about investigating what exactly happened at the camp than I was scared to delve into the woods and explore.
Without getting into spoilers, The Quarry incorporates complex story elements that up the ante a bit more than just who lives and who dies. Once you unearth the secret of Hackett’s Quarry, you need to start thinking about both the short-term and long-term goals that you have for the night. There’s a whole flock of counselors, and if you’re planning on having them all see the light of day, it’s going to require a lot of strategic thinking and luck. While it wasn’t available on release, an online co-op multiplayer mode will release in July that will surely make it an even more tense game of choice and strategy.
In lieu of Peter Stormare’s therapist character that would appear between chapters in Until Dawn, the ghostly Eliza Vorez (Grace Zabriskie) now appears with a crystal ball and offers players clues after each chapter if they’re able to pick up her tarot cards scattered throughout camp. Additionally, Supermassive Games included a couple quality-of-life improvements for the more casual gamer. QTEs are much easier to succeed at, and if you’d prefer a completely hands-off experience, a cinematic mode enables you to select the exact playthrough you’d like to see (everyone lives, everyone dies, etc.) and then simply watch it all unfold.
The second half of The Quarry had me much more sucked in, and once I finally had a grasp on what the counselors were pitted against, the game played like a page-turner thriller novel. All of the plot elements manage to reconcile and by the end, the dots between all of the different characters fluidly begin to connect. I was hoping for a bit more from the epilogue after managing to save my group of counselors, but when I realized the vast amount of endings that I could’ve potentially received otherwise, it made me respect just how much The Quarry has to offer.
Overall, I have a feeling that The Quarry will get the Until Dawn treatment. The goofy one-liners, the wide array of endings, the gnarly kills, and the dramatic story behind what transpired at Hackett’s Quarry will become well-known memes and facets in horror gaming. While I don’t believe it has surpassed the original completely, I appreciate the ways in which Supermassive Games has innovated the formula, especially seeing how they’ve taken lessons learned from The Dark Pictures Anthology. I’d say The Quarry is a lot like Halloween III: it may not land for everyone, but for the ones it does, they’ll likely make it a cult classic.
The Quarry is now available on most platforms, including Playstation 4 & 5, Xbox One, and PC.