What do you get when you mix a narrative choice-based adventure with horror? A pretty epic video game. And Supermassive Games and 2K Games‘ The Quarry is the latest installment in this ever-exciting genre. And when people think about narrative horror adventures, games from Supermassive Games rank high. It’s hard to make a list of our favorites without including Until Dawn or any of The Dark Pictures Anthology titles. So does this latest game live up to the expectations of fans? Or will it get lost in its own story and gameplay?
DISCLAIMER: Bear in mind that we will try to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible, but some are bound to sneak through. If you want to go into The Quarry completely blind (and we highly suggest you do), bookmark this review and come back later!
One Dark Narrative Tale
The Quarry‘s story is meant to absolutely terrify. It follows nine camp counselors through one night of pure terror. After getting stuck at the camp, they must work together in order to survive until the sun rises the next day. Things go awry as the night goes on, and your choices will change the outcomes and fates of the counselors. This isn’t a far stretch from Supermassive Games’ previous titles. But this isn’t a bad thing. I thoroughly enjoy this gameplay style and love the idea that how I choose to play directly impacts the overall game.
Of course, there are some events that have to happen in order for the game to progress, and it can feel a bit like you are being railroaded. Early examples of this are during The Quarry’s prologue. No matter how honest you are with the officer, or even if you want to follow his advice and head to the motel, you aren’t given a choice. Instead, Laura will make the executive decision to head to Hackett’s Quarry even against our better judgment. Thankfully, this railroading happens few and far between, and some situations are better than others.
The Quarry‘s overall tale is pretty fantastic. Throughout most of the playthrough, I was left in the dark about what was going on. Just when I thought I had a grasp on what was happening, some new information was introduced. I was excited that I had no idea what was really going on. That was until most of it was spelled out for me by about halfway through my playthrough. I wish they would have waited a bit longer to explain a good chunk of the mystery, but I understand why they did. Thankfully, there was still a lot to take in story-wise up until the very end, so I still had something to look forward to.
Quick Time Events and This or That
The playstyle of The Quarry is relatively simple. This isn’t a game that focuses on complex gameplay strategies but rather tells a narrative story that shifts with player choices. Imagine a “choose your own adventure” book but with every choice being something you decide. But it also features exploration and QTEs (quick time events). These are both staples in Supermassive Games titles, so it was no surprise to see them here. The camp was fun to explore, and broken into different sections made it more manageable. I was rewarded by finding tarot cards that are used to show the future to help guide me.
The QTEs were never overly hard to hit. In fact, the only few I missed were because I wasn’t paying attention at the moment. I guarantee you won’t miss one if you never take your eyes off the screen. A similar mechanic was the “don’t breathe” hiding one. This had me making the player hold their breath while I watched the threat move about the screen. I had to decide when it was safe to breathe and make my escape. All of these mechanics were introduced with a fun little tutorial video. This means new players won’t have to worry about learning and practicing when things really matter.
In all honesty, mechanics are the last thing I think of when I think about narrative horror games like The Quarry. As long as movement feels natural, the QTEs are reasonable, and there is enough to explore in the world, I am a happy gamer. And this hits all of those. Plus, with all the ways the story can branch off, I do not doubt that I will be replaying this game numerous times to explore them all. Plus, the achievement goblin living in me needs to get that 100% completion trophy. So having a fun way to play the game makes it much more enjoyable.
A True Cinematic Experience
Because The Quarry relies heavily on telling a story and less on the action, it is imperative that it be a cinematic experience. And guys — it is. From the moment the opening scene kicked on and I was introduced to Laura and Max, I knew this would be good. Visually the game is stunning. Everything from the sprawling lake that surrounds Hackett’s Quarry to the woods we explore throughout made me feel like I was spending the night at camp. If I wasn’t worried about any of the events being time-sensitive, I would have spent hours just exploring and staring into the sky box.
The motion capture for each of the characters is spot on. While I did experience some off-sync between the audio and visual parts of them talking, it was only for short periods of time. Aside from that and some odd issues with the visual of water being splashed, The Quarry is near perfect. I have every intention of heading back into the game and playing through the movie version. It heavily cuts out a few of the mechanics and focuses on cut scenes and allows you enough choices to change the direction of the story.
While online multiplayer is currently on hold until July, The Quarry still supports couch co-op. This lets players swap the controller back and forth as they play through the game. And this is an experience we highly recommend playing. You can either choose to work with or against your friends and see what happens. Plus, enjoying this on the big screen is going to be epic. The spooky vibes of a mysterious camp alongside terrifying monsters hunting you has got to be one of our favorite moments of the summer. Plus, watching David Arquette return to the horror genre is a true gift.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Or at least, in this case, surviving one night in Hackett’s Quarry will make you one tough cookie. Because in The Quarry, you either live or die. But don’t let that keep you from enjoying Supermassive Games’ latest installment. This one is definitely a must-play for longtime fans of narrative horror tales. It encompasses all the elements we love – QTEs, a world worth exploring, a cinematic masterpiece and a good old fashion monster horror story. Plus, with all the paths you can venture down, it is worth replaying quite a few times. If you haven’t taken the chance to dive in – get yourself to Hackett fast!
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