The Quarry review: A love letter to teen horror

The scary blockbuster of the summer

The Quarry
(Image: © 2K Games)

Laptop Mag Verdict

The Quarry is what we all wanted: a big budget Until Dawn with humongous scope, amazing attention to detail, awesome acting and terrifying consequences for every single one of your actions. Some of my Supermassive Games gripes do carry over, but they’re not enough to stop you enjoying this summer blockbuster.

Pros

  • +

    Slick visuals and soundtrack

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    Awesome acting performances

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    New gameplay additions allow for more “human” interactions

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    Engaging story with plenty of variables

Cons

  • -

    Don’t like the interactive movie formula? You won’t like this either

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    Movement still feels robotic at times

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    Chasing down collectibles can feel like a chore

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    No ways to skip cutscenes or pick scenarios

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The Quarry represents a return-to-form for Supermassive Games — going back to the well of Until Dawn and giving us another interactive teen horror flick.

While The Dark Pictures Anthology has been fun, it never had the same spark of the studio’s original masterpiece. The short snippets didn’t give you much time to get to know the characters, and the episodic structure didn’t lend itself to providing dire consequences for your actions.

So, does the return to a full-length horror romp give us Supermassive at its best? And has the team brought anything new to the table, to keep things fresh?

Fright Night

The Quarry

(Image credit: 2K Games)

Welcome to Hackett’s Quarry: the classic summer break camping location that is both an idyllic getaway and a place with an ever-rising sense of unease. This place is brilliantly realized thanks to three key ingredients: top notch visual finesse, a lovingly crafted beat-for-beat soundtrack, and “accurate” acting.

Let’s take those in reverse order. This is a star-studded cast with David Arquette (Scream franchise), Ariel Winter (Modern Family), Justice Smith (Jurassic World), Brenda Song (Dollface), Lance Henriksen (Aliens), Lin Shaye (A Nightmare on Elm Street), and more.

Each actor puts on a clinic with some great performances that feel like classic teen horror world, hitting each character trait from a generic douchebag jock with some slight emotional depth to the Trapper Keeper-owning introvert. This pairs with a selection of songs peppered throughout that match the mood of each scene with expert precision. 

The Quarry

(Image credit: 2K Games)

That’s what I mean by “accurate,” because you’re not going to get nuanced, beautiful performances like The Last of Us Part 2 (opens in new tab). This is classic slasher cheese and each performance aids in building that atmosphere.

Talking about graphics, each location is dripping with atmosphere. From the golden sunset painting everything with an orange hue and casting long shadows to dark, claustrophobic forests with an eerie mist, made all the more scary by the fully-fledged foley sound effects.

As for the characters, the upgraded motion capture really showcases the actor’s emotions, giving you their full performances. And of course, this is a horror game, so there are monsters, which are horrifically realized, pretty damn gruesome, and a dramatic step up from Until Dawn’s antagonists. 

I know what you’re going to do this summer

So, we’ve talked about the style. Now, let’s talk about as much of the substance as I can, because not all is as it seems.

The core Until Dawn formula is still here, but it has been expanded upon in a few ways to make all your character interactions feel more intentful and “human.” For example, in Until Dawn, you had a small selection of dialogue options and a series of binary choices to navigate the unfolding narrative. 

The Quarry

(Image credit: 2K Games)

In The Quarry, however, I was given choices to speak or not speak, to interrupt other characters, and while the big decisions seem binary on the surface, there are several more paths you could take that you may not recognize in the heat of the moment. 

Plus, Supermassive has tightened up several other gameplay areas. Directly controlling each character and moving around feels a lot more fluid and moving the camera with the right stick is less cumbersome. But there are still moments in tighter, more claustrophobic locations where the controls get in the way by feeling robotic.

Each section is also covered with well-placed clues and tarot cards, which are this game’s version of Until Dawn’s totems. But, to add an additional layer of curiosity to this universe, this is no longer just a glorified hunt for premonitions. Each chapter has a few tarot cards, but you can only see the vision of one. The additional element of choice shrouds more of the story in mystery and adds some real stakes to your progress going forward.

Combat feels a lot less robotic, too, as smoother, faster aiming gives you a better sense of control and it doesn’t feel like the game is working against you to shoot your target. Quick-time events make a return, alongside button-mashing moments that can be customized in accessibility settings, so you don’t have to bash rapidly.

The Quarry

(Image credit: 2K Games)

In The Quarry, however, I was given choices to speak or not speak, to interrupt other characters, and while the big decisions seem binary on the surface, there are several more paths you could take that you may not recognize in the heat of the moment. 

Plus, Supermassive has tightened up several other gameplay areas. Directly controlling each character and moving around feels a lot more fluid and moving the camera with the right stick is less cumbersome. Each section is also covered with well-placed clues and tarot cards, which are this game’s version of Until Dawn’s totems.

Combat feels a lot less robotic, too, as smoother, faster aiming gives you a better sense of control and it doesn’t feel like the game is working against you to shoot your target. Quick-time events return, too, alongside button-mashing moments that can be customized in accessibility settings, so you don’t have to bash rapidly.

The Quarry

(Image credit: 2K Games)

Shout-out to the breathing mechanic. This replaces Until Dawn’s “keep your controller steady” moments, which were interesting but rather annoying. Now, you just have to press and hold a button to hold your breath when the monster is nearby. Not only is this simpler for those who want that great couch gaming/movie watching hybrid experience, but there is a tactical element to it as well, thanks to the limited time you can hold your breath. What if you press and hold the button too early and you release your breath too soon?

For the times when you’re not in the mood to make choices, that’s where Movie mode comes in. Sure, you can just pick whether everyone lives or dies, but you can fine-tune the experience by actually changing individual personality stats of each character. It’s an interesting feature on paper, which becomes a rather slick way to chase more trophies.

However, while these quality of life improvements are welcomed, there are still some frustrations with trying to replay the game for its many collectibles and to revisit certain decisions. You can select chapters after completing the game, but there’s a weird chronology to it that means you can’t jump between them and see what impact your decisions earlier in the game have.

The Quarry

(Image credit: 2K Games)

The most egregious omissions is a quick walk/run toggle to get around any environments faster and the lack of being able to load directly into big path-choosing moments. It’s these that turn what was enjoyable exploration first time round in the roughly 6-hour campaign into a chore. 

Sure, the reward for your efforts (watching certain scenarios play out in new, unexpected ways) makes some of this worthwhile, but come on. Once you’re done with the game, the beauty of something like this is to be able to load back into a specific moment and choose differently. Not to have to rerun the extensive dialogue and walking around to get there.

Detroit: Become Human does this really well with its branching path menu. Maybe that’s something Supermassive could look into for a future update?

Anything can happen over the next few hours

The Quarry

(Image credit: 2K Games)

Seeing “Path Chosen” appear on screen isn’t merely a moment of curiosity, it’s a moment of intrigue and dread, as the story beats help you feel connected to these most generic of teen horror protagonists. 

The vast plot and all its permutations shows Supermassive Games firing on all cylinders — a thoroughly detailed core narrative that you may be able to guess within the first few chapters, with so many different twists based on what you decide that are sure to surprise even the most weathered of horror fans.

Rather than give you jumpscares galore like Until Dawn did, The Quarry really focuses on slowly building a tense atmosphere, to make those consequences of your actions really sting and make the eventual shock appearances more impactful.

The Quarry

(Image credit: 2K Games)

Those 186 endings claimed by the developer are smaller modifications around a range of bigger conclusions you’d expect from the successor to Until Dawn (namely, who lives and dies). But to see these play out based on what evidence you find, making different decisions and seeing all the callbacks to said choices at certain points later in the game is always fascinating. 

Sure, it may be predictable and much like Until Dawn. The plot can feel kind of corny at times, but The Quarry nicely hits that fine balance between intrigue and fear — between wanting to know just how many ways a certain situation can play out and wanting to keep the characters safe.

And that ability to anticipate some of the bigger themes makes for a rather interesting meta narrative where you start to second guess your choices, shout at characters for leaving the damned doors open and play like someone watching a horror movie. It’s something that only Supermassive can pull off.

Outlook

The Quarry

(Image credit: 2K Games)

The Quarry is bloody good fun — a classic horror romp that is set to be a banger of a summer blockbuster.

Supermassive has gone big here, both in scope and ambition, to deliver a spiritual sequel to Until Dawn. The stellar acting talent, slick visual style, awesome licensed soundtrack and some welcome quality of life gameplay improvements.

The Quarry

(Image credit: 2K Games)

But the warts of this playable movie format do re-emerge, from some clunky camera movement to the lack of any real streamlining to the experience after you’ve completed it. Currently, it makes replayability a bit of a slog, but if you do have the patience to match your curiosity, you’ll really enjoy this.

Jason England
Staff Writer

Jason brings a decade of tech and gaming journalism experience to his role as a writer at Laptop Mag. He takes a particular interest in writing articles and creating videos about laptops, headphones and games. He has previously written for Kotaku, Stuff and BBC Science Focus. In his spare time, you'll find Jason looking for good dogs to pet or thinking about eating pizza if he isn't already.