After a run-in with a stilted and aggressive sheriff (Ted Raimi), the game jumps forward in time two months to the last day of camp and introduces players to the main cast: Ryan Erzahler (Justice Smith), Abigail Blyg (Ariel Winter), Dylan Lenivy (Miles Robbins), Jacob Custos (Zach Tinker), Kaitlyn Ka (Brenda Song), Nicholas “Nick” Furcillo (Evan Evagora), and Emma Mountebank (Halston Sage). Their plans to leave are thwarted when Jacob, who had a summer fling with Emma, sabotages the truck to spend one more night with Emma and win her over in hopes of having a long-distance relationship that she doesn’t want to entertain. The camp’s owner, Chris Hackett (David Arquette), ends up leaving them for the night, telling them to stay locked in the lodge and that he will return for help in the morning.
Being a bunch of unsupervised teenagers, they, of course, don’t listen and instead decide to throw one last party for themselves and have a bonfire. What other way to bookmark their time together than to play the quintessential game of debauchery, such as Truth or Dare? Secrets are revealed, feelings are hurt, and the counselors slowly learn they’re not as alone as they thought while the full moon rises.
As is a staple of Supermassive Games, the game is played by making a series of choices that branch off to unlock new and various consequences for the characters. Any significant choices are marked by a signal flashing by a character’s head of the Path Chosen. Hackett’s Quarry campgrounds is a large, expansive space that can be explored and combed over as much as the player wants. This could and can have influence on the plot due to the potential of finding evidence and clues throughout the camp which can come in the form of safety items such as bear spray and tasers or something as mundane as newspaper clippings and tarot cards. Quick time events are prevalent which can also have a greater reaching effect on the game’s story and the characters outcomes, adding an urgency to the game which balances out some of the slower moments.
The counselors are broken down into the typical archetypes to help players get an easy feel for the group dynamics. Jacob is the himbo, Emma is the queen bee, Abigail is the shy girl, Ryan is the sardonic guy, Kaitlyn is the sarcastic one, Dylan is the underachiever, and Nick is the nice guy. While they all dip into times of teasing and bagging on each other, the characters tend not to stray too far for their core personalities. Jacob and Kaitlyn are established as being longtime friends who are more known to trade snark and butt heads, especially when their potential romances with Emma and Ryan, but their connection is solid and believable. Abigail and Emma are a breath of fresh air in being girls who, despite being opposites, are best friends without an ounce of animosity between them. They tease one another as well, but it’s displayed as being close, and they have each other’s best interests at heart. Dylan, Nick, and Ryan are a group of loners, which shouldn’t be a thing but kind of works, in that they’re on the fringe of the groups but are also accepted and friendly with the other counselors involved.
With some options on the table, the characters were given no choice but to act out of character for the sake of pushing the plot forward.
The characters are as engaging in some chapters as they are flat in others and while they sometimes have moments of vulnerability and introspection, in the end only a few have the space to grow and become more rounded while others remain static. This could also be because the game in some places puts more focus on certain characters, letting players control them more than others, but the story behind them was also lacking in ways that didn’t do those that fell behind any favors.
Where The Quarry fell flat was how the characters were given their personalities, but the choices presented to them didn’t always reflect them. With some options on the table, the characters were given no choice but to act out of character for the sake of pushing the plot forward. Sweet-natured characters were forced to be more aggressive in their delivery for one choice and one character who was presented as having feelings for another, when a choice was selected, then said his feelings were actually built out of pity. In some places, the character motivation even went out the window for the sake of the story, which could leave the players confused as to the sudden change.
Another low point is the addition of romance for the characters. Of course, leaving a bunch of hormone-riddled teenagers alone at a campsite would easily leave them space for romantic encounters, some of them just weren’t needed. I didn’t find myself engaged or caring about the romantic entanglements of the characters, and some of them could have been left out altogether because they added nothing to the story. It also doesn’t help that the relationship status bar that was a big influence on Until Dawn was taken out altogether, so seeing people’s relationships towards one another rise or fall based on certain choices had little effect on the world or motivations. Some scenes are cute and make you want to root for the pairings, while others are eye roll worthy. The game relies a little too much on the entanglements to put characters in certain places and would benefit from having a better balance between romantic and platonic interactions against the story.
There were some improvements and some setbacks when it comes to how The Quarry is played compared to Until Dawn. A few wins are in how choices can be cancelled out. The Quarry updated the mechanics in a choice being made by filling a bar at the bottom of the screen. The option to cancel out the choices should the player change their mind by toggling in the opposite direction at the last minute is a good inclusion. While the player having to deal with the consequences of a split-second decision drives Until Dawn, having more space to think about an outcome and being able to make a last-minute decision gives more room for debates should the player be in a group setting.
The flashlight beam in certain dark scenes is brighter and utilized better, rather than making anyone who is playing have to lean really close to the screen just to make out one shadow from another. The camera angles due to the motion capture have greatly improved and makes the game feel much more immersive. When approaching an obstacle, the camera zooms in and gives the players a brief shot of what the universe would appear to them as if it were a first-person view rather than a third-person game.
Some of the low points are the character movement is slow and, in some instances, can become jerky and stiff in a way that comes closer to moving a sim than a player in a game with such advanced mechanics. A few scenes become glitchy, stuck, and repeat themselves until it catches up to the audio and continues, whether this is just a bug from a new release or part of the game remains to be seen.
The game is made with motion capture, so the characters resemble the actors moving and voicing them. Most of the game the models are spot on and the audio syncs up with the dialogue, but there are glaring instances where the mouths move as if they’re made of rubber and stretched too far and wide while speaking, creating a very odd and uncanny valley effect. Some of the audio didn’t match up with the lip movements, and some of the effects in the setting around them (such as water splashes) left me scratching my head at the low quality for such advanced technology when it comes to game building.
The Quarry calls back to 80’s slasher films with the prevalence of an old school VHS tape aesthetics added to the gameplay as well as being evident on the home screen options page. Throw in the animated Hackett’s Quarry Safety Tips to aid the player for upcoming encounters throughout the game which are very reminiscent to the informational reels presented in school, The Quarry is a love letter to the retro while giving it a modern feel which ultimately creates an enjoyable, immersive, and gripping game.
With over 180 potential game endings, The Quarry offers up many replay efforts in new goals such as wanting to keep everyone alive, wanting to kill everyone, wanting to find all the tarot cards, or simply wanting to go back and create chaos. People will be revisiting the wistful yearning of the campsite and the horrors of The Quarry time and time again.
The Quarry was released on June 10th, 2022 and is available to play on the Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Steam platforms.
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