Hitbox Review: The Quarry – A Horror Experience That Finally Returns to ‘Until Dawn’

The best thing about The Quarry is its cast of camp counselors. Putting the characters first is key to the success of these horror experiences. 2K Courtesy Photo

Release date: June 10, 2022

Developer: Supermassive games

Platforms: PlayStation 5 [Played]PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC

What about summer camps and slasher movies? There must be something in the lake water. It’s an iconic and instantly recognizable place where fictional teenagers scramble to survive. For that reason, it’s almost surprising that it’s taken Supermassive Games so long to turn their iconic video game brand – the playable slasher movie – into cabins and campfires on the last day of summer camp.

Since releasing the iconic Until Dawn in 2015, Supermassive has almost exclusively developed horror games where a cast of characters, played by recognizable actors, live or die based on player decisions. These largely took the form of The Dark Pictures Anthology, a series of shorter horror experiences that have been released annually since 2019. These entries were enjoyable, but also showed just how far an act up ‘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 peppered with very recognizable names: David Arquette (Scream), Brenda Song (The Suite Life), Justice Smith (Jurassic World), Miles Robbins (Halloween) and more. The Quarry is definitely the direct successor to Until Dawn that many were hoping for.

David Arquette provides his recognizable face and voice for camp director Chris Hackett, though sadly he really isn’t around as much as I expected. 2K Courtesy Photo

The career largely focuses on the last day of summer camp. All the kids are gone and the counselors at Hackett’s Quarry are packing up and getting ready to go. It seems unlikely that either of them will ever see each other again, so hearts are broken, attractions are confessed, and the future is contemplated.

Desperate for one last chance to save his relationship, a counselor sabotages the van that was supposed to take them back to civilization. Suddenly, the monitors spend one more night at Hackett’s Quarry, without the watchful eyes of camp director Chris Hackett, who hastily leaves for the night.

Of course, the night isn’t just filled with drinks and kisses. There is something lurking in the woods, there are unknown men at work, and there is a voice whispering in the wind. Something much bigger is happening.

The councilors soon find themselves in danger, struggling to see the sunrise. The quarry quickly derails into a spiraling horror experience where advisors must work together to survive.

This game goes where I didn’t expect it to, constantly building up the tension until a finale based on choices made and characters still standing. Variables include character relationships, wounds, and even the whole context of the ending. If the characters who are supposed to be in a certain scene aren’t alive to be there, it won’t happen.

When advisors find themselves in danger, quick events where players must 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. As you play, making choices and completing these simple challenges will be the primary way players interface with the game.

Each of Supermassive’s games have featured a character that speaks directly to the player. The Quarry features an older fortune teller who hints at a dark potential future and plays a decidedly more antagonistic role than the characters who came before her.

The main triumph of The Quarry lies in its characters. True to the style of Supermassive, each character in the game can live or die based on the decisions made by the player. Everyone is either completely lovable or completely hateful, and when I made the wrong decisions and had to watch the painful consequences, I felt it.

Part of the strength of the characters lies in the centering of their relationships. Emma dumped Jacob because they were supposed to just have a summer fling before he left and got feelings. Nick and Abi both have crushes on each other but haven’t acted on it all summer. Kaitlyn and Dylan have a crush on Ryan, but no one can tell if he’s actually interested or not. The opening scenes flesh out these relationships and establish the characters before they are scattered or, possibly, murdered.

A significant part of The Quarry is completely missable if the wrong characters die. In my first playthrough, a few missed shots caused some of my favorite characters to die at the end of the game. The credits rolled and something was clearly missing. After completing the game, players unlock the ability to replay chapters and rewind the dead, so I went back and changed the fates of a few of my fallen characters. I was rewarded with an entire missed sequence containing major plot reveals and a location I hadn’t seen the first time around.

Perhaps my one major complaint with The Quarry is that while character relationships are centered and emphasized throughout, there’s no resolution for most of these arcs. None of the couples reunite even at sunrise, there’s almost no epilogue to speak of. The game ends at shocking speed, 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 arcs.

Ever since I played Until Dawn in the UAA’s residential North Hall Lounge the night it went out to a crowd of a dozen people voting on decisions, I’ve always played Supermassive Games like some sort of movie night. It’s something the studio has leaned into, providing options for multiple players to control different characters by passing the controller. New to The Quarry is Movie Mode, which removes all gameplay mechanics and turns The Quarry into something of a horror movie on stilts.

This mode doesn’t turn the game into the perfect horror movie, it highlights the seams of the game, but it’s a nice option to see how things might have turned out differently without a full replay. Different options are available to customize the story. I watched the “Everyone Lives” cut to see what a perfect run would look like since my game definitely wasn’t.

I maintain that the best way to enjoy Supermassive titles is with a group, even in single player mode and just voting on decisions. Unfortunately, the length of the game, around 10 hours, makes it a steep order. It’s hard to keep a group engaged for that long, and perhaps even harder to successfully come together for multiple sessions. Movie mode reduces this time somewhat, but still not enough to fix this issue.

The Quarry is Supermassive Games’ second-best title, a worthy successor to Until Dawn’s legacy at last. The characters are endearing, the scares and revelations are shocking, and I felt the need to go back and discover alternate paths and endings, which is easier than ever with Movie Mode. Summer is the perfect time to feed the need for laid-back horror movies, and The Quarry is certainly capable of filling that hole in our hearts.

I would 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 events and other challenges easier, or even remove them altogether.

Bring a few friends and use the couch co-op mode to put the fate of each advisor in the hands of a different player, and even set the difficulty for each participant individually.

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