Friday 5 August 2022

Game Review: The Quarry

Seven teens try to survive the cursed woods surrounding Hackett's Quarry in Supermassive Games' new gnarly horror title, The Quarry

Wind the clock back to 2015, and British developer Supermassive Games put out PlayStation exclusive horror title, Until Dawn. It was a huge hit, with gory kills, slick visuals and a branching storyline with substantial replay value.

The Quarry, which is being described as Until Dawn's spiritual sequel, is singing from the same hymn sheet. All the ingredients are the same, so the finished product feels very familiar – which means if Until Dawn was to your taste, The Quarry will be too. 

The Quarry leans into the toybox of horror tropes that have come to define the genre over the past 40 to 50 years. There's your dumb jock and the stuck-up cheerleader; a gawky nerd, a loudmouth, a shy bookworm and a sensible 'final girl' who's going to make it to the third act. It's not trying to reinvent the genre, far from it – it's doing everything it can to ham it up and have fun with it. 

The cast of characters are portrayed by some recognisable faces; Ariel Winter (Modern Family), Halston Sage (The Orville), David Arquette (Scream), Lance Henriksen (Aliens), Justice Smith (Pokemon Detective Pikachu), Ted Raimi (Spider-Man) and Brenda Song (The Social Network), and the mocap is really effective, with the animations deftly navigating the uncanny valley.

We've now played through The Quarry twice in the space of week; our first playthrough was totally sight unseen, no guides to steer us through the story and point us towards the 'right' choices. Every decision we made and path we took was guided by our gut, and it wasn't until the ninth chapter of ten that things started to unravel. 

Seemingly innocuous decisions we'd made in earlier chapters came back to haunt us in interesting and unpredictable ways. The second playthrough was the opposite, with the guidebook open so we could find every clue, shred of evidence, tarot card and ensure all the characters made it out alive. 

I think my main gripe with the game is how little interactivity it affords the player; the cinematics are gorgeous and detailed, there's no denying that, but I'd actually like to take the reins every once in a while. And when it does, the actual gameplay – usually steering a character through a room or series of rooms to uncover clues and prompts – is so clunky and awkward that you almost wish you were back in a cutscene again. 

The Quarry is better described and experienced not as a game, per say, but an interactive multimedia experience. It's not just inspired by films like Friday the 13th, it might actually be better as a film, such is the woefulness of its character movement and infrequent gameplay. Supermassive might even agree; after you beat the story once, you unlock a 'movie mode' where you can pick from a set of character attributes for each of the teens and then just sit back and watch it play out.

The Verdict: 7.5/10

So if it's edge-of-your-seat, white-knuckle horror gameplay that you're after, The Quarry isn't for you. There's plenty of thrills and frights, but they largely come from QTEs, cutscenes and forks in the road, where the 'right' path is unclear and obfuscated. If that sounds like your kind of thing, then The Quarry comes highly recommended.

The Quarry was reviewed on the PlayStation 5.

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