I’ve just spent an hour playing a small section from the beginning of The Quarry, Supermassive Games’ latest title, being published by 2K Games this time around. While the developer has been pumping out instalments in their Dark Pictures Anthology series of episodic horror adventures, there hasn’t been a full-fledged follow-up to their cult favourite 2015 teen-horror Until Dawn. That is, until now. The Quarry feels very much like the same formula, re-invigorated for a new generation, with a similar set-up, similar threats, and plenty of potential to get the large cast of characters killed in a variety of ways.
First up, The Quarry looks, sounds and feels basically identical to many Hollywood horror blockbusters you’ll be familiar with. Of course, with teens on the chopping board in the woods, there’s the Friday the 13th series that’s clearly an inspiration, but the threats are a little more diverse than that. There’s some locals clearly up to no good, in the vein of The Hills Have Eyes, while some sort of monster stalks the forest in the vein of Evil Dead or The Ritual. The cinematography reflects these influences, and for large chunks of time The Quarry essentially presents itself as a film, with high-fidelity visuals and some stunning character models selling you on a highly realistic presentation.
The premise this time revolves around a cast of teenage counsellors at an American summer camp, in the vicinity of a spooky lake, forest and of course, quarry. The teens involved run the gamut of tropes, including the insecure and nerdy Abigail, vain and aloof Emma, quiet charmer Nick (played by Melbournite Evan Evagora), and party animal Jacob. Most interesting perhaps is Kaityln, played by Brenda Song, who stands out among the cast as a more responsible voice of reason and leadership.
The short slice of gameplay I played through centred around the group of teens enjoying one last night with each other at a river-side campfire. The night starts off irresponsibly, with Jacob challenging Nick to a target shooting match, before evolving into a classic round of truth-or-date with the gathered counsellors. It’s all fun and games until some rather uncomfortable scenarios play out among the group, causing them to split up and some to stomp out into the dark, terrifying woods alone to decompress. Of course, that’s where the monsters are.
Most of the influence the player has over the game’s events come in the form of short, sharp decisions between two options the game regularly presents. You’ll be told at the beginning of a scene which character you’re in control of, and your choices both determine which paths the story will take, as well as how the other characters relate to each other (some The Walking Dead style ‘Kenny will remember that’ style-stuff). There’s also a new mechanic, regular opportunities to ‘interrupt’ an action playing out on screen, letting your character interject to help someone save face, or voice your discomfort as to what’s going on, which can also alter events.
Events in The Quarry get spooky pretty quickly, as some of the teens come under attack by a mysterious monster, that’s not fully revealed at this early stage, as well as some unfriendly-looking hunters in the woods. Action scenes play out that show the events from multiple perspectives – from the teens under attack, others trying to run to their aid, and others who might be skinny dipping in a likely-corpse filled lake unaware of the horrors going on.
There are short sections where you’ll take full control of your character and be able to explore a limited area, which offer a certain amount of interactivity with some optional clues you can find that help flesh out the world of The Quarry and provide context and clues for the dangers ahead. Action scenes take the form of Quicktime Event sequences that use a somewhat confusing analogue stick prompt, which only shows you the direction you need to flick it at the last second, as well as simple targeting scenes when you’re equipped with a gun. The focus here isn’t so much on the gameplay itself, but the decisions you make in these sections. The default weapon is a shotgun, which you’re told has a wide spread, making it useless for precise aiming at long range and meaning that you might be better off deciding not to shoot at all, given the option.
As with other Supermassive games, there’s also a narrator-type figurer, this time played by Twin Peaks’ own Grace Zabriskie as a type of witch or fortune-teller, surrounded by skulls in a run-down shack as she shows glimpses of the future in her crystal ball, while also dealing tarot cards that provide hints as to how to deal with situations you may face. These tarot cards can actually be found around the regular environments stuck to walls and trees, although usually highlighted by specific camera angles. There are also other fun touches like the game’s tutorials taking the form of chipper cartoon-style camp induction videos, that are just a little too happy about what they’re actually explaining to you.
Overall, The Quarry seems like it has all the ingredients for a proper follow-up to Until Dawn. There’s a mix of supernatural and human threats that an isolated and hormonal group of teenagers has to deal with through a series of split-second decisions and tense QTE sequences, on top of plenty of cheesy teen drama and comedy to get you somewhat invested in the character archetypes that are about to be put through the The Quarry’s slaughterhouse. The Quarry isn’t too far away now – heading to PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PC, PS4 and Xbox One on June 10.