The success that Supermassive Games appreciated over the years is largely due to their ability to channel different types of horror into their games. With the branching narrative design, the mechanics are familiar by this point, so it’s the setting and (for lack of a better word given the subject matter) the execution of the horror tropes that dictate just how deep their stories are. immersive. With The Quarry, we may be seeing a return to where it all began. We have a teen horror movie set in the middle of nowhere with something to fear in the dark. Clearly, we’re shamelessly in the same Venn diagram space of Until Dawn here. And it remains to be seen if The Quarry can compete with this revered title, but the early signs are looking pretty positive.
The Career | A super massive collaboration
This is the first standalone game of its kind that Supermassive has made since launching its Dark Pictures anthology. This time around they’re working with 2K to bring the experience to us. And right away, the game feels bigger as a result. The cast of controllable characters has been increased from the usual five to nine. And there are six other revealed characters that also make up the story. The result is a game that feels bigger, a story that has the potential to be more fleshed out and interesting. The key will be the quality of managing a story with so many choices and characters. And if it can remain engaging and responsive with all the variables it generates.
In our hands-on preview, I played about an hour of the game. It showcased some of the story between the end of Chapter Two and the start of Chapter Three. So early enough in the story for it to make sense as a starting point, but far enough into the narrative that things start to get spicy and there’s some uncertainty as to what happened previously. As for that uncertainty, there’s a clear omission of two characters – Laura and Max – who presumably have ventured somewhere together and we’ll see them again after the events of the preview hour.
What you experience though is a pretty good slice of the action. In this one, we get an overview of many mechanics, as well as similarities and differences to previous Supermassive games. Obviously, the choices are back, and their impact on character relationships is displayed on screen as they change. QTEs also return to test your reflexes in tense moments. It also looks like tutorials for various mechanics will drop as the story progresses. In the preview, for example, a segment of the story unlocked the combat tutorial and we learned how to shoot weapons that might come in handy later.
The old and the new
But as I played it became very clear that Supermassive and 2K are doubling down on the teen horror style, and in particular taking on an 80s vibe too. While The Quarry is set in the present day, many of the on-screen prompts have an old-school pixelated aesthetic. And the paths (the same as Bearings from The Dark Pictures) come in the form of VHS tapes that you rewind back and forth as the story choice is made. Adding to the overall vibe is a list of backing tracks of songs that blend in with natural ambience and tense sounds as one would expect in a horror movie. It helps you immerse yourself in familiar horror situations. It’s no surprise that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th are cited as influences because it sometimes feels like a theatrical production.
It looks like the curator was replaced between chapters this time with a mystic known as Eliza. Like her Dark Pictures counterpart, she’ll offer advice and also read any tarot card collectibles you find on your journey. She can also use them to show you optional visions of events that could happen in the future of your story – a mainstay of Supermassive games to this day. It’s a nice way to tweak the formula while keeping things familiar.
To fear? Be very afraid!
But how does The Quarry make it most important? Does it actually land in horror? Well, there were snippets in the preview that hinted at enough intrigue and genuine danger to keep you pleasantly shocked. There is definitely a savage monster hunting our characters and there are NPCs whose intentions are unclear at this point, so trust is key. And it’s not just about surviving, but finding out the truth about Hackett’s Quarry that will affect which ending you get.
The voice acting seems really solid so far, as do most of the character’s facial and body animations. There are a few misplaced corny smiles or awkward expressions, but for the most part the characters look and feel believable, just like the on-screen action.
Thus, The Quarry looks set to become one of the biggest supermassive titles to date. It’s clearly full of ambition, a clear style, and enough differentiation to engage fans. As always, the key will be whether the story and experience as a whole can hold the landing when they launch next month.
The Quarry is coming to PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series S|X on June 10.