New release Review

Review – The Quarry

Supermassive games are known for their hit interactive horror titles such as Until Dawn and the Dark Pictures Anthology, and The Quarry doesn’t stray from that genre. It’s an excellent spiritual successor. Supermassive have honed their skills with the previous titles and brought all they learned to the table in this latest entry. Set in Hackett’s Quarry, a Summer Camp for kids, The Quarry is successful in blending suspenseful scenes, explorative gameplay and stunning visuals in just the right way to engage the player throughout.

The Quarry invites the player to experience and interact with a cinematic masterpiece. Playing as each of the nine Hackett’s Quarry councillors, the player has free reign over the outcome of the narrative, their choices deciding who lives, who dies, and much more. Throughout the experience the player will sometimes feel as though they are in a slasher film, a ghost film or an animal horror film as the twisted story unfolds, constantly causing the player question the truth. Supermassive does an excellent job of tying many story threads together into a classic horror flick turned video game.

Almost immediately upon starting the game, the player is made to make decisions which initially feel small and insignificant, but as they continue on, they may realise that the decisions were actually momentous. The player could find themselves realising that they have made a mistake in one of their decisions and are powerless to stop the outcome. They say hindsight is 20-20, and this game really makes the player feel that on certain occasions. Sometimes an outcome feels so obvious after the fact. Supermassive looks to have understood that feeling with all their experience making similar titles. Which led them to add a rewind system for the first time, allowing players a chance at redoing a quick time event or making different choices to stop certain outcomes from occurring. The rewind system is in place from the start with the deluxe edition of the game, and on extra play throughs with the standard edition. Another way to help the player achieve the outcome they hope for is a future scene viewer similar to Supermassive’s previous titles. This time the player can use tarot cards they find in the world to see a possible future, and use that knowledge to help prevent that future or even make it reality.

However, if the player isn’t up for making hard decisions then there is a movie mode, allowing them to choose the outcome and sit back and watch it all go down. Personally that’s not something I’m interested in, but I appreciate that some players may want something less punishing. That said, the standard story mode doesn’t have many quick time events or scenes that require lightning-fast reflexes, so it doesn’t seem necessary. Some extra scenes and interactions will be missed when playing the movie mode.

After my first play through of the standard story mode, I immediately jumped back in for more, and was delighted to find that the scenes and outcomes diverge greatly depending on the player’s choices. Utilising the rewind mechanic I took back some choices I made, and found that the game placed me a fair while back to where a choice I made affected the outcome. Something to keep in mind as the player may not want to play a whole hour-long section again if they are short on time. One thing that would make additional play throughs more palatable would be a way to skip scenes that you have already witnessed previously. Currently that is not a possibility, which means additional play throughs will have the player looking at their watch and tapping their foot as they wait for a 10 minute cutscene to finish.

Supermassive is a veteran of the genre, so it’s safe to say their game systems are fluid and intuitive. However, as someone who has played a few of the previous titles, I felt like they may have been too fine-tuned, leaving the player with less interaction than they may like. For example, the ‘stealth’ system is simply holding A until the right time in order to make the character hold their breath, which can get a little old when it’s repeated over and over.

The acting is on par with blockbuster movies, and the visuals are stunning in most cases. The cast played their roles spectacularly. Each cast member is motion captured, so there will likely be some faces the player recognises. This also means that the acting comes across more realistic than purely digital character models. Justice Smith and Ariel Winter’s performances in particular were amazing, the teenage angst was palpable.

One of my only gripes with the game was that the characters mouths are rendered rather strangely. They don’t move how they should when a character is speaking. Whether that will be addressed in an update remains to be seen, but it can break the player’s immersion when there is a close up scene. It almost looks as though all the characters have just received Botox shots and can’t move their faces properly. When they’re not speaking however, the character models are insanely detailed. There were some scenes where I forgot they were not real people.

Almost like a postcard, the scenery in the game is spectacular, the sunset over the lake is sublime, and the woods feel alive. The graphical realism is some of the most impressive I’ve seen in a video game to date. That is, until you see the water. Water has become a pet peeve of mine in video games. I’ve played games from 10 years ago where the water rendering is leagues better than some games of 2022, and that rings true here. There are a fair few scenes in The Quarry that involve water splashing or moving, and it doesn’t look good. It almost looks like a different art style all together, like ink on paper when the rest of the game is photorealistic. Very off-putting.

Stepping away from the photorealism, a nice little inclusion is the tutorial type scenes which are depicted as training videos for campers with charming cartoon graphics. Things like what to do when faced with a wild animal, and watch your step when walking in the woods. I never went to a summer camp, but I can imagine this is what the educational training videos would be like.

That’s the only part of the game that would be kid friendly. This game is rated R18+ for a reason, and the kiddies should definitely be in bed, at school, or otherwise out of the vicinity while you play The Quarry. From gruesome blood-filled action sequences to horrifying suspenseful scenes, this game is not for the faint of heart, and definitely not family orientated. There is a neat couch co-op mode where you pass the controller which would be good for a partner or friend though.

Sam Russell

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