Release Date: June 10, 2022
Developer: Supermassive Games
Platforms: PlayStation 5 [Played], PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC
What is it about summer camps and slasher films? There must be something in the lake water. It’s an iconic and immediately recognizable venue for fictional teenagers to scramble for survival. For that reason, it’s almost surprising that it took Supermassive Games so long to turn their signature brand of video game — the playable slasher film — to the cabins and campfires of the last day of summer camp.
Since the release of the instantly iconic Until Dawn in 2015, Supermassive has almost exclusively been developing horror games where a cast of characters, portrayed by recognizable actors, live or die based on player decisions. These have largely taken the form of The Dark Pictures Anthology, a series of shorter horror experiences that have been released annually since 2019. These entries have been enjoyable, but have also shown just how tough an act Until Dawn was to follow.
From the announcement of The Quarry earlier this year, it was clear that this was something different. The visuals were a cut above, the trailer promised a variety of horrors in the woods and the cast was stuffed with very recognizable names: David Arquette (Scream), Brenda Song (The Suite Life), Justice Smith (Jurassic World), Miles Robbins (Halloween) and plenty more. The Quarry is definitely the direct successor to Until Dawn that many have hoped for.
The Quarry largely centers on the last day of summer camp. All of the kids are gone, and the counselors of Hackett’s Quarry are packing up and preparing to leave themselves. It seems unlikely that any of them will ever see one another again, so hearts are being broken, attractions are being confessed, and futures are being considered.
Desperate for a last chance to save his relationship, one counselor sabotages the van that was intended to carry them back to civilization. Suddenly, the counselors are spending one more night at Hackett’s Quarry, without the watchful eyes of camp director Chris Hackett, who leaves for the night in a hurry.
Of course, the night isn’t just filled with drinking and kissing. There’s something lurking in the woods, there are unfamiliar men at work and there’s a voice whispering on the wind. Something much bigger is going on.
The counselors soon find themselves in danger, fighting to see the sunrise. The Quarry quickly hurtles off the rails into a spiraling horror experience where the counselors must work together to survive.
This game goes places I didn’t expect, constantly building up the tension until a finale based on the choices made and the characters still standing. Variables include character relationships, injuries, and even the entire context of the ending. If the characters who are supposed to be in a certain scene aren’t alive to be in it, it will not happen.
When the counselors find themselves in danger, quick-time events where players have to mash a button or move the analog stick in a certain direction are used to avoid threats, move objects or hide. New to this game is a shooting mechanic where players use a flashlight to aim a shotgun. When playing, making choices and completing these simple challenges will be the main way that players interface with the game.
The chief triumph of The Quarry is its characters. True to Supermassive’s style, every character in the game can live or die based on the decisions made by the player. Everyone is either completely lovable or totally hatable, and when I made the wrong decisions and had to watch the painful consequences I felt it.
Part of the strength of the characters is in the centering of their relationships. Emma dumped Jacob because they were supposed to be just having a summer fling before he went and caught feelings. Nick and Abi both have a crush on each other but haven’t acted on it all summer. Both Kaitlyn and Dylan have crushes on Ryan, but no one can figure out if he’s actually interested or not. Early scenes flesh out these relationships and establish the characters before they are scattered or, possibly, murdered.
A significant chunk of The Quarry is completely missable if the wrong characters die. On my first playthrough, a couple of missed gunshots caused the death of some of my favorite characters right at the end of the game. Credits rolled, and something was clearly missing. After clearing the game, players unlock the ability to replay chapters and rewind deaths, so I went back and changed the fate of a couple of my fallen characters. I was rewarded with an entire missed sequence containing major plot reveals and a location that I hadn’t seen the first time.
Possibly my only major complaint with The Quarry is that though character relationships are centered and emphasized throughout, there is no resolution to most of these arcs. None of the couples even reunite at sunrise, there’s almost no epilogue to speak of. The game ends shockingly fast, simply going around and showing which characters are alive and which are dead. Players make choices that influence relationships, but don’t see the ultimate conclusion of the arcs.
Since I played Until Dawn in UAA’s residential North Hall Lounge the night it came out with a crowd of a dozen people voting on decisions, I’ve always played Supermassive Games as a kind of movie night. This is something that the studio has leaned into, offering options for multiple players to control different characters by passing the controller. New to The Quarry is Movie Mode, which removes all the game mechanics and turns The Quarry into a sort of stilted horror film of its own.
This mode doesn’t turn the game into a perfect horror film, it actually highlights the game's seams, but it’s a neat option to see how things could have played out differently without a full replay. Different options are available to tailor the story. I viewed the “Everyone Lives” cut to see what a perfect run would look like since my playthrough certainly wasn’t.
I maintain that the best way to enjoy Supermassive’s titles is with a group, even if in single-player mode and simply voting on decisions. Unfortunately, the game’s length, around 10 hours, makes this a steep order. It’s tough to keep a group engaged for that long, and maybe even harder to successfully reassemble for multiple sessions. Movie Mode cuts down on this time somewhat, but still not enough to address this issue.
The Quarry is Supermassive Games’ second-best title, a worthy successor to Until Dawn’s legacy at long last. The characters are engaging, the scares and reveals are shocking, and I felt the drive to go back and experience alternate paths and endings, which is easier than ever with Movie Mode. Summer is a great time to feed the need for some casual horror films, and The Quarry is definitely capable of filling that hole in our hearts.
I’d recommend The Quarry to anyone interested in a fresh take on the 80s-camp-slasher film. The game is extremely accessible, with options to make quick-time events and other challenges easier, or even to remove them entirely.
Bring some friends and use the couch co-op mode to put the fate of each counselor in a different player’s hands, and even set the difficulty for each participant individually.