The Quarry preview: Fun, formulaic teen horror

Characters in The QuarrySupermassive Games / 2K Games

The Quarry is the next installment in a long line of interactive narrative stories from Supermassive Games, in a similar vein to Until Dawn and The Dark Pictures Anthology. In a hands-on preview, Dexerto was provided a small glimpse into this upcoming entry of the studio’s creepy teen horror and what events will unfold in Hackett’s Quarry.

Supermassive Games, since its initial release of Until Dawn back in 2015, has brought the teen-horror flick genre right to players’ hands, granting them the power to directly impact and shape the events and fates of its characters.

The most recent addition to their roster of horror-fuelled tales is The Quarry, with plenty of new decisions, big and small, on the cards to make that alter the course of how everything unfolds — from Tarot cards or clues to find and branching decisions that affect the gameplay path.

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Two characters in The Quarry at nightSupermassive Games / 2K Games
All the archetypal personalities of a teen horror are present in The Quarry.

Top-notch cinematic storytelling with branching gameplay

As a huge fan of Supermassive Games, and as someone who has played each of their horror titles (multiple times, might I add — I’m a sucker for trying to find all the different outcomes), I dived right into gameplay with an expectation of what I’d be seeing in this hands-on preview. Everything felt familiar enough to feel like I knew what I was getting into right from the get-go, but with a spattering of additions to keep it feeling fresh and new.

Jumping from character to character, our preview, which started in Chapter 2 — opens with two of the group’s characters, Nick and Jacob, attempting to duke it out in a shooting range by taking down bottles and watermelons for a pack of snacks (as you do). Accompanied by Kaitlynn (played by Brenda Song) — who appears to take the role of the group’s figurehead — and a deceptively cheery, summery soundtrack, this quasi-tutorial sequence introduces you to the shooting mechanics of the game.

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Aim assist accessibility is available if you need it, but aiming weapons felt tight and responsive, so this was something I left turned off — not something I usually do.

Before I was able to take a shot at one of the watermelons, a video, presented in the form of a cartoony, educational vignette, popped up that ran over how combat works. Somewhat similar to the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. videos in the Fallout series, this was a funny and unexpected addition that shows that The Quarry doesn’t take itself too seriously.

A looming sense of unease underpins this teen horror

As I played through my hour-long slice of gameplay, I was reminded about all the things that make Supermassive’s horror titles such a big draw to me: Gorgeous motion capture and visuals, a beautifully realized environment to explore, plenty of branching paths, and endless amounts of butterfly-inducing quick time events to immerse you in the action. These never felt overbearing, and a new approach to these with directional inputs used to avoid characters from losing their footing, for example, helped things to keep fresh.

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Playing a game of truth or dare by the crackling fire (a teen horror staple), a new feature, ‘interrupts’, gives you finer control over specific situations. On the spur of the moment, you’ll decide whether or not to interrupt what’s happening on-screen, bringing about changes to the narrative and affecting relationships with other characters.

Menacing bobby in The QuarrySupermassive Games / 2K Games
The Quarry has beautifully designed environments and fantastic motion-capture performances.

My least favorite aspect of the developer’s past games, fixed cameras, are still present, and it can still feel slightly disorienting to be walking towards one direction of a scene before the camera shifts and you’re walking towards another — but this is a minor niggle that becomes less of an issue the more I played.

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As you hop from character to character, you’ll explore the eery, spooky narrative (and get glimpses of the skulking, brutal monster of Hackett’s Quarry) which goes from one to one hundred incredibly quickly, while discovering clues to further flesh out your understanding of the lore of this world. Tarot cards can be found throughout the environment, which serves to provide insight into how certain scenarios of the game can unfold. This ties into a mysterious, elusive tarot card reader — who appeared once on my screen during my time with the preview — providing me with the option to gaze into a crystal ball and observe just enough of a potential outcome to keep me on my toes as I returned to active gameplay.

I was incredibly impressed by the sheer amount of customization in regards to The Quarry’s accessibility features. From changing subtitles to the OpenDyslexic typeface to timer length options for QTEs and choices through to auto-completes, turning button mashes into taps, and even a ‘death rewind’ feature, The Quarry is a great example of how accessibility features should be done.

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From my hour-long gameplay session with Supermassive’s The Quarry, the game looks set to be another great addition to the roster of spooky tales already in the developer’s extensive library. As my preview drew to a close, I instantly wanted to find out more of what was going on, and I’m itching to get back into gameplay to see just where this night takes each of the characters on release day, June 10, 2022.