LifeisXbox’s The Quarry review | This is Supermassive’s latest release in a genre they’ve pretty much become synonymous with: Horror stories told through interactive games with choices that branch out and decide what happens to your characters. Your job as the player is to keep as many of them alive, unless your own goal is to see all of the actors die a horrible death, which is fine too.
This isn’t an entry in their “The Dark Pictures Anthology” series, however, which has 6 of such games in total with one releasing every year. Instead, it’s more like a spiritual sequel to the critical acclaimed Until Dawn, with a similar setting and monsters to face, but we’ll try not to delve into any spoiler territory. (though it doesn’t take a genius to derive what you’ll be facing in this game if you’ve seen the cover art.)
But let’s set the stage for this thrilling adventure: You play as a cast of teenagers who had a summer job as camp counsellors for children at Hackett’s Quarry, a location in the middle of a dark forest, far away from society… and any help. They were supposed to head home on their last day of camp, but some car trouble keeps them stranded for one more night (or possibly forever if they don’t survive)
So without further ado, grab a light snack, a comfy blanket to reassure you and whatever else could bring you some comfort, because we’re heading into horror territory…
Most Memorable Moment
It’s astonishing to see how with each release, Supermassive succeeds in getting the facial animation more and more true to form. We’ve long left the uncanny valley, and these digital humans bring credible performances and have facial expressions that will make you forget you’re playing a game. It plays like a movie and even has a mode now that strips all gameplay. So if you prefer to watch, have at it, here is a full playthrough without commentary:
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series X | Review code provided by 2K, this review is the personal opinion of the writer.
What we Liked!
- Visually impressive | From the very first moments in The Quarry, it’s apparent that a ton of time went into making these characters look as lifelike as possible with current technology and it shows. While some environments may be lacking a little detail here and there, the majority of locations and people look absolutely stunning and are among the best graphics I’ve seen.
- The Fortune Teller | Much like the curator from The Dark Pictures Anthology, there is a fortune-teller present here that ties all the chapters together. If you collect Tarot cards during the game, she will even give you some (optional) insights into what’s to come and it can help you keep your actors alive.
- Credible performances | The cast is excellent and does an outstanding job with the material they’ve been given. Some lines in this script are beyond cringe-worthy and still, they perform most of them without a shred of tangible shame. When the script follows normal human behaviour, you can clearly see each voice actor bringing their A game and adding a ton of personality. My personal favourites are Laura and Kaitlyn, two powerhouse women who deliver every line completely in-character.
- Great soundtrack | The Quarry has an excellent list of songs that help to set the mood or even lift some of the broody atmosphere for a while, so it can help us breathe. It’s just a shame that the timing is off in a few cutscenes where a rather light-hearted starts playing at the end of a chase sequence.
- Co-op mode | I love that you get to experience The Quarry with friends. You can either play locally and pass the controller, or you can even enjoy it with online friends, each taking responsibility for a character. If you can manage to play this with 7 friends and get the full 8 player watch party, the stakes will be extra high to keep everyone alive!
- Accessibility | There are a ton of options here that make the game accessible, from large font sizes to settings for the colorblind and modifiers that help with reaction-based gameplay for people who might suffer from a physical disability. I can only applaud the efforts!
- Not a lot of gameplay | This is something I personally don’t mind as much, but it helps to go into The Quarry expecting to experience an interactive movie. The game is about 10 hours from start to finish, and over half of that is spent watching cutscenes.
- Collectables | I love looking for collectables in games like this, with each item you find contributing to the world-building and the overall lore. With the hidden Tarot cards, you are even motivated to keep looking as they might have an impact on your future. But the walking speed is so glacially slow, that you’ll want to skip ahead to the next cut-scene.
- Movie Mode | There is a mode where you can just sit back and watch the game play out like a movie, while it’s a nice idea on paper and I even recorded a full playthrough myself, you notice there is a lot of content missing that is necessary to enjoy the story to the fullest. Nice touch though: my version had a “Gorefest” option that made sure I’d see all the most gruesome outcomes.
What we Disliked
- The script | While the overall plot twists are VERY easy to guess, especially if you’ve watched a lot of horror movies and paid attention to the many hints in the game itself and the collectable items, it’s more the script for the characters to read that bothers me. Some of these interactions just aren’t how humans behave to each other, and especially not in a time of crisis. If you encountered a monster, you’ll tell your friends about it when you see them again, this particular “problem” occurs at least four times or more in the game and it always bothered the hell out of me. Even the ones who have seen the creatures attack their friends keep lying to themselves that it was bears.
- Continuity errors | I understand that writing a branching script might be a complete nightmare as there are so many elements that can contribute to a different outcome, but too often could I spot issues where characters were aware of something they could have no knowledge of in this playthrough or simple things like weapons switching possession to different people in between two cut-scenes.
- Exaggerated reactions | While it can sometimes be written off to an external influence I won’t spoil (though I seriously wonder why I’m keeping up the charade, again: it’s very easy to tell from the first 5 minutes of the game what we’re dealing with, even if it takes them 5 hours to actually call it by name), some characters have wildly exaggerated reactions to the situation and everyone around them forgives them for their outbursts. A love interest replying with “Duh. Are you dumb?” or someone suggesting an amputation at the first sign of blood just feels completely out of place.
*This was handled MUCH better in their previous game, House of Ashes, as the military characters in that story had way more credible reactions to what was happening to them.
- Too Dark | Almost 90% or more of the game happens during nighttime, with almost no sources of visible light other than the dim moonlight shining through the windows. It makes it really hard to see anything, even when the game’s brightness is turned all the way up. There were even exploration moments where I was just walking around using blind luck to bump into the next interactive element.
*This has been improved a lot after an HDR patch, but it’s still way too dark in some scenes.
- Water splashes look awful | It almost feels like nitpicking because the game looks truly spectacular other than this one detail, but for some reason whenever you see water splashes, it feels like they threw a transparent .PNG file on top of the cutscene. I wouldn’t have brought it up if it didn’t break the immersion every time it happens though.
- Replayability & player impact | I played through the game three times, once in movie mode and then two playthroughs with widely different choices, but if felt like it was impossible to predict the outcome of your actions. You’ll often be asked to make a choice between 2 possible paths, but because the other non-playable characters counter your decision, it feels like you have little to no impact on the story. In Until Dawn, I actively feared for everyone’s life, but in The Quarry, I was relatively at ease at all times and then got blindsided a few times at the end.
- Completionist nightmare | While there is a chapter select, it will only save the collectables you have up until that point. There is no way to complete this game without doing 1 perfect run where you don’t miss a single item to pick up and you’ll need at least a second playthrough to get the other ending and all the very specific character interactions you need to play all the way from chapter 1 to chapter 10. This is NOT a title you’ll enjoy completing 100%.
How long to beat the story | 10 hours
How long to achieve 1000G | ~25-30 hours (around 3 playthroughs, perhaps 2 if you use a guide)
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Robby lives and breathes video games. When he’s not playing them, he’s talking about them on social media or convincing other people to pick up a controller themselves. He’s online so often, he could practically list the internet as his legal domicile. Belgian games-industry know-it-all.