"Why does everyone blame everything on bears?” Dylan
The children have all gone home, and the remaining nine camp counselors wind up in a world of horror in Hackett’s Quarry summer camp once the sun goes down. Survive the night, or die trying. This is the setup for The Quarry.
Not a true sequel but instead a “spiritual successor” to Until Dawn, Supermassive Games has hit us again with another game that plays out like a horror movie. The Quarry, however, is more akin to the 1980s-era teen slasher flicks than a modern horror film.
There’s an element of humor to The Quarry, a lightheartedness that takes the edge off. During gameplay, there are interjections that come up for tips, and they play like one of the Fallout cartoons, right down to the similar music playing in the background. This isn’t the sort of dark horror we experienced in Until Dawn, but something more akin to the movies like Cabin in the Woods or Friday the 13th. As I played, my head kept screaming "Scary Movie!". While it contained horror elements, it felt more like a dark parody. One of the characters even mentions hating horror upon interacting with a book.
In a game like this, the story takes center stage, with the gameplay elements usually boiling down to exploration and QuickTime Events. Let's see how Supermassive's latest handles all of it.
Welcome to Hackett's Quarry Summer Camp! Perfect summer camp sights by day, and a rotting, desolate ruin by night. The Quarry is located in the perfect, classic horror setting, the sort of setup of cabins in the woods anyone would envision when envisioning a summer camp. But as soon as the sun goes down, it becomes a different place entirely.
There was great care put into the atmosphere and the scenes, and the contrast between day and night only adds to this depth. The cast did a wonderful job, and the graphics were great considering the low system requirements (save for the PS2-style water).
Without any spoilers, the story has a few different things going on, all that line up with horror movie tropes. There's a combination of some paranormal activity, a creature feature, and a slasher. Mix that in with some rocky teen relationship drama and you've got yourself a bad time in the forest.
This game was made for people that like horror movies. While combining elements of different types of horror, we are also faced with the game's butterfly effect that will change the final outcome of your individual game. Compared to Until Dawn, players will be faced with fewer jump scares, less overall tension, and a slightly more tame story and gameplay experience in terms of overall fear factor and character deaths. We are, however, met with similarly placed interview intermissions between the chapters.
While the game’s intertwined horror plots make for an interesting story and some well-calculated twists, it also made for some big plot points that were never properly developed, as well as some holes that left some players confused. The teen drama also wandered into the teen angst department more than some horror fans would have liked, and at times (especially in the first few chapters) felt like the game turned into Life is Strange. Thankfully it didn't stay that way, but there were still times when the characters seemed detached from reality. Times when a character may have just gotten killed by a monster, but they're still more concerned about their relationship status. I'm not sure if this was just a bit of bad writing, or if it was part of the game's parody aspect, but the whining over their relationships was a little over the top.
Playing through the story with the cast of nine various camp counselors, the campaign is approximately ten hours long. Along with making choices and dealing with QTEs through the course of all the cutscenes, players can guide the characters through stealth, exploration, conversational choices, simple combat, and interruptions. To find more information within the game, players can read through documents, letters and newspaper clippings, solve puzzles, and discover traps, but their addition almost feels like they were thrown in at the last minute as an afterthought. They all sort of feel like they’re lacking, but offer additional information, nonetheless.
There is also “Movie Mode” where you are given three options: Everybody Lives, Everybody Dies, or Director’s Cut. You choose your ending, or you choose the personality traits of the playable characters as you go, and the game plays out for you based on those traits. In any of these modes, the characters all make their own decisions, and the entire game plays out like a movie without you having to lift a finger. Any bit that would have been entirely playable is taken out, and all the cutscenes are linked together into one long, seamless movie where everything is done for you. The downfall of this mode is that a lot of important events or insights can be missed along the way.
On another positive note, The Quarry actually offers an option for couch co-op! This dying art may only be of interest to some gamers since it is, as mentioned, and art that is dying. So few games include a legit local co-op option these days, so it was a nice surprise to see it thrown in there. I didn’t try it myself, but each player (up to eight) is assigned one character or more depending on how many people are playing the game. When a player’s character is in play, the controller is passed to them. Not quite the true couch co-op experience, but still a way to keep everyone involved.
Sadly, it's not all sunshine and roses at this summer camp. At least with the Day One release build, The Quarry was loaded with bugs. Even on a PC that meets or exceeds the recommended settings, the game will often freeze in the middle of a cutscene or even during a QTE, interfering with the player’s ability to respond to it. There are also many occasions where the player is given the indication that an interactable element is in their vicinity, but the game doesn’t actually allow them to trigger the interaction. Audio is also quite buggy and is almost constantly falling out of sync with the cutscene until it hits another reset point. For those opting to play this game on a PC, The Quarry also comes with a third-party launcher. For these reasons alone, if you plan on purchasing this game I would hold off for a little while yet.
The findable items in The Quarry encourage players to play through the game more than once to discover everything and uncover all the secrets and lore in Hackett’s Quarry. Unfortunately, the game itself is not very replayable, otherwise. While the campaign is only 10 hours long, it’s very padded. Even outside of Movie Mode, the game plays more like a movie than it does a game. Even for the type of game it is, there is a big lack of interactivity in it and is mostly just watching what occasionally turns out to be interactive cutscenes.
There is not a lot of hands-on gameplay, just a lot of watching. There is no option to fast forward, and no option to skip scenes. During what bit of actual gameplay there is, you don’t have the option to run, just a bit faster version of a walk.. The forced slow progression results in literal hours' worth of dead time, as you can only really sit and watch it play out. It’s a slow-burn story, and replaying would likely feel like a chore.
The Quarry is available on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, PS5, and Steam. For what the game brings in terms of graphics, the Steam/PC requirements aren't that bad, and can be seen here.
Though this is subject to change, the overall rating from both IGN and Steam is 7/10. Since this game only just came out on June 10th, it's highly likely to fluctuate over time, especially with patches and bug fixes sure to be sent out in the coming weeks and months.
But for now, due to all of the bugs, lack of interactivity, lack of replayability, teen angst, and my general boredom while playing (watching), my review on it is going to be lower. My own rating falls at about 4/10.
It was redeemed in part by its story, humor (both light and dark), and the brutality of the gameplay and horror elements. If you're into interactive horror movies, go for it once it's all patched up and less buggy. If you're into actually playing games and having that hands-on experience and don't like a lot of cutscenes, this game likely isn't for you.
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