The Quarry is Until Dawn 2. That simple phrase will be enough to tempt the majority of horror fans, with Supermassive Games having created a spiritual successor to its breakout hit that builds upon all of its greatest strengths and most obvious flaws. It’s real spooky.
A group of lovable yet irksome teenagers make some bad decisions and find themselves caught up in a supernatural nightmare of killers, monsters, and a deep mystery awash with myriad twists and turns. This is both what you expected and also a complete surprise, willing to embrace obvious horror tropes while also seeking to subvert them at every opportunity.
Its predictable storytelling and obnoxious dialogue might turn off some, but for me that’s part of The Quarry’s charm. It’s an experience that fully understands its place in the horror zeitgeist and what habits it must lean into in order to shine. A cast of recognisable names bring its world and narrative to life with nuanced conviction, providing a reason to care as your decisions see them fall victim to bloodshed time and time again.
On the surface, Hackett’s Quarry is your idyllic summer camp. It’s surrounded by gorgeous woodlands and towering mountains, with visitors free to explore a number of vast facilities or take a cheeky dip in the lake before bonding with their fellow camp mates. But for councillors it’s little more than a job, or a way to earn extra credit before heading off to college and leaving their childhood memories behind. That apathy is evident throughout The Quarry’s brilliant cast, which ranges from well-meaning nerds to sociopathic jocks who want nothing more than to big themselves up even if it means putting others in danger.
There’s Kaitlyn (Brenda Song), a confident and level-headed woman with a knowledge of firearms and medical expertise that proves invaluable in the right situations. Ryan (Justice Smith) is a nerdy introvert who would rather listen to podcasts in isolation than make friends, but when the pressure mounts he becomes an unexpected leader amongst his peers. Or Abigail (Ariel Winter), an insecure emo girl with a crush on a cute boy she’s too afraid to talk to. A character I loved to hate, yet hated to love was Jacob (Zach Tinker) who sabotages the only working vehicle out of camp purely to spend an extra night with Emma (Halston Sage) despite the viral egomaniac having no interest in him beyond a lusty summer fling.
All these characters are tremendously well-rounded, and don’t lean into cliché nearly as much as Until Dawn. Many characters who begin as tiresome archetypes grow into layered personalities with their own flaws and motivations that meant I wanted to see them survive to see the morning. Some of them didn’t, and I’m already kicking myself that I made a wrong decision somewhere down the line that resulted in their demise.
You’ll groan at the delivery of certain lines and scream in frustration as your favourite councillor waltzes into their certain demise for no logical reason at all, but that’s all part of the schlocky charm.
Our flock of teenagers is eager to spend one more night together before life changes forever, so instead of heeding the advice of local law enforcement to stay inside the fortified main building, they decide to chill by the lake with loud music, a bright fire, and spill the tea with a game of truth or dare. It all deteriorates from here, with wild monsters roaming the forest seeking to pick them off one by one alongside hunters whose own goals are deliberately unclear, forcing us to decide on who to trust and who to betray.
Speaking further about the narrative would be a disservice to its ample twists and turns, which, while at times can feel predictable, are surprising enough to keep you invested. Those with an intimate knowledge of the genre will definitely see things coming, but The Quarry elevates themes we’ve explored countless times before with compelling adjustments that make us care, or putting us at the centre of massive decisions with the right amount of agency to make us feel like we’re really making a difference.
It would be easy to describe The Quarry as a homage to horror classics like Friday the 13th and Sleepaway Camp before calling it a day, but that descriptor feels uncharitable. It builds upon our preconceptions of where the genre is capable of going before subverting that image in so many clever instances. I approached the game with that mindset, and often made decisions that on the surface went against the grain, only to have that attitude turned against me as I was punished for believing the obvious twist, or expecting less out of a character who would only turn around and surprise me. There’s also inklings of a gay romance that I can’t wait to talk about, even if I’m totally projecting my gay campfire fantasies. I know flirting when I see it and these boys are definitely a bit fruity.
The formula pioneered by The Dark Pictures and Until Dawn hasn’t changed much here. Dialogue choices are clear, often asking us to choose between two major emotions that will shift the scene in certain ways, while timed decisions will allow us to call out for help, fire a gun, or make split-second calls that under the right circumstances could change everything. More so than past games in this lineage, choosing to do nothing has a greater impact than ever, and restraint was often my chosen path forward because I didn’t want to rock the boat.
Often this was definitely not the right call. I decided to avoid shooting a monster crawling atop the cabin and kept making passive decisions in order to protect a character I was smitten with, only to have him jumped by a monster and lose his hand in a situation that was definitely avoidable. The Quarry makes you feel like absolute shit when things go wrong, and that guilt will make repeat playthroughs all the more tempting for those eager to see each ending. I want to go deeper, but spoilers are so easy to broach upon with a game like this.
Certain scenes feel awkwardly stitched together, making it clear that decisions are being taken into account while a central moment remains unchanged to avoid overcomplicating things. Dialogue can come across as oddly disjointed, with characters taking too long to respond or emoting in a way that just doesn’t feel right. I’d be freaking out if my friend was suddenly attacked by a giant monster, but some of these characters react like nothing happened.
They’re level-headed, but it honestly doesn’t feel all that realistic. Keep in mind that some of these could have been symptoms of playing a pre-release build on PC, since I was unable to test the console versions before embargo, but it’s weird and with some extra polish definitely could have been improved. I wasn’t able to test the co-op mode either, which is delayed until next month for extra development time. All the accessibility options are welcome though, with players able to customise the speed of QTEs or change the control layout completely to make moment-to-moment gameplay easier. Given the fast reflexes required to help characters survive and progress the story, this is more than welcome.
The Quarry is an excellent survival horror experience with a strong cast of characters and a startling horror narrative that delights with campy scares and unexpected twists. Fans of Until Dawn and The Dark Pictures need to pick this up, or even those after a spooky outing either alone or with friends. It isn’t the alien abduction story I’ve been waiting for, but it still proves that Supermassive Games is the undisputed king of the genre when it matters.
A review code was provided for the purposes of this review.
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