NextGen Take - The Quarry

Three things I like about this game, and two I don't

The Quarry

By Paul Hunter

For more than a decade PlayStation has been synonymous with cutting-edge interactive drama adventures—think Heavy Rain, Detroit: Become Human and Until Dawn. However, three years ago Supermassive Games, one of the biggest developers of this style of game, branched out to multiple platforms with their Dark Pictures Anthology series. While I've certainly enjoyed the three Dark Pictures entries released thus far, narratively and technically they've yet to reach the heights of PlayStation's 1P/2P narrative mega hits.

With the release of The Quarry, out now on PlayStation, Xbox and PC, finally now a wider audience can enjoy a big budget interactive drama on par with Until Dawn in terms of high-end visuals, lifelike motion capture and superb performances from some of Hollywood's best talent. Although we never did get the much-requested Until Dawn sequel, The Quarry is a spiritual successor in all but name.

With that in mind, let's drive on in to Hackett’s Quarry: summer camp is about to start. Here are three things I liked about the game...and two I didn't.


Liked: Life or Death Decisions

To help set the stage, The Quarry focuses on a group of summer camp counsellors that get stranded on the last day of camp and must stay through the night until help arrives. Like many teens in a situation with no adult supervision, the rules go out the window and they throw an end-of-year bonfire bash. But, of course, the party quickly takes a sinister twist as blood-soaked locals and far worse supernatural creatures arrive and turn it into a night of terror.

From there, like Supermassive Games' previous narrative adventures, The Quarry introduces its branching narrative structure that unfolds into a tangled web of possibilities depending on your decisions. These includes split-second QTEs segments that determines whether you character escapes from a dramatic chase or wins a brutal up-close battle. Frequently you'll also need to make intense life-or-death decisions like which path to take, running or hiding from threats, or whether to save a fellow camp counsellor or yourself. What's so exciting about these moments is that it's not always clear what the 'best' choice is, adding intensity and gravity to each and every decision.

To help you keep track of the pivotal story-altering moments that factors into your group's ultimate outcome, there's a Paths menu section showing your choices. While there's no way to go back and change your decisions (as the game immediately autosaves), it's helpful to understand the critical moments should you decide to replay the adventure for fun or to clean up missed trophies.

I also appreciate how The Quarry spends the first three chapters or so getting you familiar with each character with no chance of sudden deaths. Sure it lowers the stakes during the early goings but it gives you a chance to become acquainted with each character and helps you pick your favourites to survive.

For me, my top pick to survive was Kaitlyn, the team's natural leader, who's great with weapons and is both sarcastic and smart. I also was rooting for Ryan the reclusive loner who's the most level-headed of the bunch, plus Dylan who puts on a strong front but is actually pretty mushy on the inside. Getting so connected to characters in the initial chapters helps to ratchet up the intensity of choices later on, as you may do whatever it takes to save your favourites—even if it means putting lesser liked characters at risk.

Liked: Pristine Presentation

The game's incredible visual fidelity and stunning cinematic quality truly brings this visceral teen-horror experience to life. Every character is presented with cutting-edge facial captures to see every smile, smirk and flash of terror in lifelike detail. Combine that with the stellar performances from Hollywood top talent like David Arquette, Ariel Winter, Brenda Song, Evan Evagora and Justice Smith—and you've got a game that actually manages to surpass Until Dawn, presentation-wise. The sheer amount of character nuance, details and delicacy is simply impressive, rivaling the best the industry has to offer.

Also adding tremendously to the game's filmic quality are the advanced lighting techniques and camera pans, zooms and jolts that brings realism to every scene. The soundtrack deserves special recognition, too, with a number of excellent licensed tracks that help set the mood. You've got Daydream Believer by The Monkees, Fly Me To The Moon by Alma Cogan, Be Careful What You Wish For by NineOneOne, and Moonlight by Ariana Grande, just to name a few standout tracks. But don't worry if you're a streamer: The Quarry has a streamer mode that disables licensed track to avoid copyright strikes.

Liked: Multiplayer and Accessibility

For those that want to make their experience social, The Quarry includes local couch co-op where each player picks a counsellor and controls their actions. It's a neat inclusion, rare in this genre, that opens up the possibility of movie night with your significant other or friends. The game also has an online mode for up to seven friends, where each invited player votes on key decisions, creating a unique story shaped by the entire group. Unfortunately though this mode was delayed until July 8 and was not available during the review period. But still, it's cool to see two multiplayer modes and I'm looking forward to checking the online MP when it drops in a few weeks.

If you decide to go it alone, the game does feature numerous gameplay assists to make experience a little less intense. These include adjusting the amount of time allowed for QTEs (including an auto-complete option) and critical decisions, the choice to hold buttons instead of mashing them, and auto-completing the particularly intense "Hold Breath" moments. For shooting sequences, you can increase the time to shoot targets, turn on aim assist or even have the game auto-aim and shoot for you. It's great to see Supermassive Games providing so many options, allowing players to tailor the controls to their liking.

What's rather interesting is The Quarry fully embraces its filmic quality with a special Movie Mode where you become the game's director. For those that prefer to watch versus play, this mode lets you choose whether everyone lives or everyone dies, or you can tweak each individual character to truly customize the experience. Then you sit back and watch the thrills unfold without ever needing to push a button. A neat addition!

Didn't Like: No New Game+

Once you complete the game you're given the option to revisit any individual chapter, with all the decisions you've previously made up to the point, and replay the story from that point. But unfortunately there is no New Game Plus mode that lets you carry over your collected notes, evidence and Tarot cards into a subsequent playthrough. That's quite disappointing given that there are trophies tied to collectibles and means you'll need to find 100% of them in a single playthrough. If you happen to miss a collectible your only option is replay the entire game again, super annoying. This game should absolutely have NG+ and that would have motivated me quite a bit more to replay this 10-hour adventure.

Also annoying is when you select a chapter to restart at, you're then locked into that particular run all the way until the final chapter. So there's no ability to pick and choose specific chapters to replay to scoop up the handful of missed collectibles. It's just absolutely a poor development decision that makes going for the platinum trophy an utter grind. Disappointing to say the least.

Didn't Like: Too-Familiar Setting and Plot

While The Quarry's story is excellent overall, if you've played Until Dawn it'll be impossible to ignore just how similar these two stories are. Teenagers stuck in a residence in the middle of nowhere with no cell phone reception, check. A large group of teenagers you control, a remote wilderness, supernatural creatures to battle, check, check and check. It's so close to Until Dawn it's virtually a direct sequel and honestly takes some wind out of the narrative's sails. There were very few surprising twists and I couldn't help thinking I've been there, done that during many of the game's sequences. A different setting or less focus on the supernatural would have gone a long way differentiating The Quarry from its predecessor.

The Verdict

The Quarry provides plenty of scares with its engaging narrative, pristine graphics and superb acting from top Hollywood talent. The excellent licensed soundtrack also helps make this such a memorable experience. I appreciate the multiplayer options and accessibility features as well, which broadens the appeal and lets you control the game's intensity. It's too bad there's no New Game Plus and the story does stray too closely to Until Dawn, but neither downside means you should steer away. This is a high-quality interactive drama that absolutely deserves your time if you're a fan of the genre.

Final Score: 8/10 - Great


The Quarry details

Platform: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC
Developer: Supermassive Games
Publisher: 2K Games
Genre: Survival Horror, Interactive Drama
Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer
ESRB Rating: M (Mature)


A key was provided by the publisher.