The Quarry - Improving on a Great Formula
The Quarry building on the foundation laid down by Until Dawn
I have always gravitated toward the game genre that can best be described as “Interactive Drama”. To my eye, it's a type of game that acts as a movie, featuring more cinematics to watch than challenges to conquer, but the story is determined and progresses based on the player’s decisions and choices throughout. Games under this genre include the games from Telltale, such as The Walking Dead series, the Life is Strange series, and most games directed by David Cage, including Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls.
As a movie lover, I enjoy the idea of being able to control the narrative which is presented to me and making choices that could impact the story. The feeling is almost like being able to write the movie as it goes along. Among the Interactive Dramas I've played Until Dawn stands out from the crowd; a cinematic horror game in which the player’s actions can determine the fate of eight teenagers as they go through a night of horrors. Until Dawn offers supposedly limitless options and choices as to how your story will wrap up. Aside from all the characters surviving the night or dying throughout it, a playthrough could end with each character meeting their fate in different ways. Some events may have been set, but the results could be different based on the player’s actions.
The studio responsible for Until Dawn, Supermassive Games, recently released a spiritual successor to the game entitled The Quarry. Being a fan of their previous horror experience, I jumped on the game the day it came out. Now having completed my first playthrough I definitely think it’s an improvement over Until Dawn. That being said though, both games are indeed similar and I’m here to compare and contrast the two and see what was improved, what might have gotten worse, and what I would wish for a future effort by the developer.
On the surface, both games are very similar. A group of people is stuck in an isolated place for the night as they try to survive various dangers that bese their path. The player is given control of the various characters throughout the game, as you’re given decisions regarding how they interact with the other characters, and actions they perform that could seal their fate. There are also collectibles to find and various outcomes for every situation you’ll come across, which will put your reflexes and reaction time to the test via Quicktime events. Both games put these people’s lives at your hands and it's up to you what will happen and how.
The plots of both games share other basic similarities. Each starts with a tutorial-like prologue which ends up being connected to the main plot later on. This is followed by the main characters being introduced to us, alongside their personalities and relationships with other characters. The games are split into chapters, and between each there’s a character who talks directly to you as you progress through the game, acting as a guide throughout your quest.
So where is the spiritual successor different from the previous game? The short answer is that it’s much bigger and your choices have a much bigger impact on the narrative this time around. Until Dawn contained scenarios in which the game would trick you into thinking a character dies because of your actions. In one scene the character Matt has to save his girlfriend Emily from falling down a collapsing structure. Regardless of the player’s choices as Matt, Emily ends up falling, making the player think she might have died… only for the game to reveal much later that she survived the fall.
The Quarry has some of those scenarios as well, in which something bad will happen to a character but you’re not sure if the scenario was scripqted or not. Not only does the new game mask those scripted scenarios it also gives you much more control and options to have these characters killed much earlier in the game, and the outcomes are varied. Supermassive has confirmed that there are over 180 endings in the game leaving A LOT of ways for scenarios to play out. My particular ending had plenty of the characters surviving, but a lot of them didn’t make it due to bad timing in the QTEs or just making the wrong decisions.
Regardless of your choices, Until Dawn will always end in the same way with the same climax. The major things which change are the character who survived, and what they say in the credits in which they recap their experiences. The Quarry however presents full endings to each scenario which feel a lot more complete, and each playthrough could very well have an ending that greatly differs from your first playthrough. I personally can’t wait to go back to the game and take a crack at getting a better ending, taking my original experience into consideration. I may not get all of the 180-plus endings, but I’ll definitely see what I can change.
I really enjoyed The Quarry and I’m looking forward to revisiting it with friends who would have to make the decisions. I may still love Until Dawn and would recommend it, but its spiritual successor is the better game. One thing I think could be improved in the next game however; is the path recap. In both games, whenever you make a decision which impacts something, the game will let you know that this decision impacted another character’s thoughts about you or impacted on the character you’re currently playing as.
Once that’s done, you can access the current path for a character from the pause menu. Ryan has to make a decision if he should cut Dylan’s hand in order to stop something from spreading. Earlier in the game, when Nick is shown to have been attacked by the same thing, it’s been implied it can take him over. Remembering that, I made Ryan shoot Dylan’s hand. When I checked the character path afterward the game said that Dylan’s infection had stopped which now told me Nick is indeed infected by something.
For the sake of keeping the players in suspense, I think the decisions and their impact on the story should be reserved until AFTER a playthrough is completed. Checking the line of events as you play the game could result in major plot points being accidentally spoiled for the player, and I think it can remove some of the dread in some scenes, making them less tense. It’s a complete nitpick and a personal preference but I’d like to have the option. Also, would it be too hard to have the characters be likable from the start next time? It does take a long time to get warmed up to these people, but I guess that is the horror trope.
Supermassive Games has delivered yet again on a great experience which I highly recommend for fans of the genre! The Quarry is available on PC and all major consoles except Switch. Whichever version fits you more, have a good time surviving, and may your choices give you the best ending possible!
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