Need to know
What is it? An interactive teen horror movie from the makers of Until Dawn
Expect to pay: $59.99/£49.99
Release date: June 10
Developer: Supermassive Games
Publisher: 2K Games
Reviewed on: RTX 2070, i7-10750H, 16GB RAM
Multiplayer? 8-player couch co-op, online co-op coming in July
Link: Official site (opens in new tab)
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No subgenre of horror is as well-loved as the teen slasher, and clearly it’s where Supermassive Games feels right at home. In The Quarry, billed as a spiritual successor to the studio’s 2015 TV-style fright fest, Until Dawn, you can thus expect a familiar cocktail of blood and hormones, as once again the fate of a group of fresh-faced potential victims is placed in your hands. While they run around in the dark stalked by someone/thing fixated on their gruesome deaths, it’s up to you to nudge them (hopefully) away from harm. As long as you have a head for horror tropes, you should feel right at home too.
This time round, the group in question are some post-high schoolers who’ve come to Hackett’s Quarry Summer Camp to work as counsellors. A prologue chapter follows two of the counsellors as they arrive a night early and get an unpleasant reception, but the bulk of the plot unfolds two months later, at the end of summer, as seven other counsellors—who’ve had a lovely time—are packing to leave. But when their minibus won’t start they realise they’ll have to stay one more night, much to the dismay of the unexpectedly spooked camp owner Chris Hackett. He instructs the gang to stay inside all night no matter what, without explaining why, then drives away. So, obviously our heroes decide to have an outdoor party.
(Image credit: 2K)
Any sense of agency thus largely rests on a wealth of 50/50 choices: agree or disagree, run or hide, shoot or hold fire. Indeed, the four character deaths I experienced in my first play through all happened at these points, whether due to poor judgement or coin flip selections that fell the wrong way. But while such outcomes can seem like harsh punishment, this is where The Quarry works best as interactive horror. The sheer realisation that a snap decision might come back to bite you in the face is panic inducing, and when these come thick and fast towards the finale, the heart rate really does accelerate, along with the brain as you try to second guess the game’s logic. The bloody violence that ensues should you fail is the red icing on the cake. My first death, after coasting through a number of chapters, was the highlight of the game—a genuine shock that jolted the whole experience to life.
Yet even that part of the deal—which no horror film could mimic—comes with caveats. When any character can die at different points throughout the game, leading to dozens of possible final configurations, there’s rarely any satisfying closure to the intricate relationship arcs established early on. Instead, narrative lines tend to fizzle out, with no intent of delivering on their initial hooks after all. For all the shock value, even realism, of having three-dimensional characters abruptly despatched, as a form of writing it’s akin to putting full stops in the middle of sentences.
Over the last seven years Supermassive has sharpened its branching ghost train formula to a point so fine that one of its characters could trip and impale themselves on it. But the only real advancement from past titles here is the top-class production values. The plot, performances and visual fidelity are worth turning up for, as are some of the shocks, but more than ever much of your involvement seems like protective padding sandwiched between the scripted thrills. You may well feel at home in The Quarry, then. But since when did feeling at home make for the best horror?
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