They’ve still got it
While we wait for the next entry in the Dark Pictures Anthology, Supermassive Games is dishing out even more choice-based horror in its familiar cinematic style. And this time, it’s the big one — the moment fans have been waiting for since Until Dawn. From the outset, The Quarry tries to recapture that lightning in a bottle in terms of scope, story, and execution, and this supernatural end-of-summer-camp adventure hits the mark.
Evil is afoot, and your decisions will once again dictate who makes it to sunrise.
The Quarry is a standalone new IP — it doesn’t belong to Bandai Namco’s Dark Pictures series — but there are so many shared traits. And the refinements are stacking up.
If you’ve been on any of Supermassive’s wild rides before, you know what to expect by now — familiar faces from film and TV, lots of chatting, quieter clue-finding moments, plenty of frantic quick-time events, a guiding force in between chapters, and some gut-feeling life-or-death calls. The Quarry covers all of those bases, and it covers them well.
These games are at their best when they leverage classic horror while also infusing some modern touches, meta moments, and well-timed laughs, which can be a tough act to sustain. The best ones know when to fluctuate between tension, drama, and levity, while also seeding enough mystery to keep you speculating about where the story’s headed next. The Quarry hit those marks for me. It has some of the best-written Supermassive characters yet — a bunch of disobedient, but capable (!), teenage camp counselors trapped overnight — and a few major story threads that collide in an interesting way.
I already said the magic word (supernatural), and I’ll just add that The Quarry has its own fresh spin on a horror trope that I’m not spoiling. You’ll figure out what it is before it’s fully shown, but the way it happens is exciting, and there are more layers to wrap your head around before the night is over. The game does a good job of splitting up the protagonists into sub-groups and bouncing all around, chapter after chapter, to keep the energy up until the end. And I was surprised by how some of the NPCs fit into the bigger picture. Everything ended up being connected in an at times unpredictable, yet satisfying, way.
You’ll surely recognize at least some of The Quarry‘s extended cast, which includes Ariel Winter, Justice Smith, Skyler Gisondo, and Ted Raimi, as well as smaller appearances from David Arquette, Lance Henriksen, and Lin Shaye. As a Twin Peaks fan, I particularly enjoyed Grace Zabriskie’s (collectible) tarot card readings — she’s my favorite fourth-wall-breaker yet — and also Siobhan Williams, who really comes into her own later in the story.
While many of The Quarry‘s elements can be traced back to Supermassive’s prior games, I think this streamlined presentation is a step up, whether it’s hazy “here’s how you might die!” premonitions, extra touches like morbidly funny animated tutorial sequences, and new prompts. You can tone down the QTEs so you never really have to worry about failing them, and there are slightly more thought-provoking moments when you can optionally interrupt someone (but maybe shouldn’t…) or hold your breath in hiding (until the exact right moment when the coast is clear). The dialogue flows well, and I chuckled a bunch.
As for the branching story, when I hit the credits, I immediately wondered how things could’ve gone off the rails in a totally different way based on any singular decision. Throughout the game, you’ll see “Path Chosen” pop-ups after significant (and seemingly insignificant) events, which you can track in a nice visual way in the pause menu, though it’s often tricky to suss out what’s next. When making choices, figuring out whether or not to trust your gut is a big part of the fun. Sometimes, the safe choice is super dangerous.
My most anxious moment involved dropping an important item in a lake at night with razor wire swaying under the surface. I’m shuddering just thinking about it.
Not everyone will want to pay the full premium price at launch for a cinematic horror game like this, and I feel like that’s worth acknowledging — it’s fair to bring up. The value will vary from one person to the next, especially if you’re not playing in a group, which is often the ideal way to go. One of the main questions is undoubtedly going to be “how long is it?”
Playing alone, The Quarry took me around nine hours, though I missed quite a few world-building collectibles, and spent some extra time replaying sequences with the Death Rewind feature, which can kick you pretty far back depending on the circumstances. Your runtime will depend on your choices, your thoroughness during exploration, and the game mode. There’s solo, couch co-op, a streamlined sit-back-and-watch Movie Mode, and online multiplayer (which is coming out after launch due to a last-minute delay).
To give a better sense of the game’s scope, there’s a decently long prologue and ten chapters. You’ll want to get cozy, because The Quarry is likely a three-sitting game. I originally planned to squeeze it into two nights, but I’m so glad I spread it out. Several scenes would’ve been too much of a slow burn for me without a breather, though your patience — or group setting — might make a marathon session more feasible.
I don’t want to say many specifics about the setting, but Hackett’s Quarry has a nice spread, with plenty of variety, so don’t think it’s “just a campsite.” Even though this is a linear game that funnels you from scene to scene, it has an appropriately big presence.
Despite the Dark Pictures Anthology‘s unevenness and some frustrating tonal choices (sorry to open that can of worms again), I’ve been down for every Supermassive horror game so far. Even when they don’t blow me away, they’re still enjoyable. I’m happy to say that The Quarry is easily at or above Until Dawn, and while it doesn’t have quite the same impact — the formula isn’t as fresh at this point — it’s a much more refined game. It taps into comfy ’80s horror nostalgia while feeling modern and standing on its own two feet.
There are more ways than ever to adjust the challenge to your liking with granular accessibility settings, and the story has fun tricks up its sleeve for horror fans to untangle as they try to snap together the different story pieces in play. I’m also shocked by just how good these production values have gotten — depending on the framing and lighting conditions, certain shots approach photo-realism for me. I wasn’t sure I’d mesh well with all nine of the teenage protagonists, and they did need to grow on me (and one never did), but they all ended up being memorable in their own way. Though there’s a lot of upfront banter, some of which lands well, and some of which is groan-worthy, the counselors are layered, and it’s interesting to think through the choices that dictate their future.
While I can’t say I’m dying to do another full playthrough immediately — this is not a short game! — I will say I was into The Quarry just about every step of the way. I’m stoked to see some alternate pathways and gnarly deaths when they pop up on YouTube, and I’ll do a second run sooner than later. I’ll be in the mood again by Halloween for sure.
The Quarry is just as good as I was hoping it would be, and that’s a pleasant surprise.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game purchased by the author.]