The Quarry — Hands-On First Impressions
Why does everyone always blame bears?
Summer camp at Hackett’s Quarry is ending and night is falling, but a small group of counsellors decide to capitalise on their van breaking down and have one last night of summer fun. But with hunters, wild animals, and things that go bump in the night lurking about, it may not be quite as fun as they were hoping.
The Wheel of Fortune
The Quarry, a new cinematic horror title from developer Supermassive Games and publisher 2K Games, follows these kids as they try to survive the night. But before the counsellors even get to camp, the game opens with two others on the road. This prologue, acting as a tutorial for The Quarry, introduces the general area and a few characters that don’t come back into play for a while. After running into trouble in the road with a mysterious figure and a creepy sheriff, it’s up to the player to keep these two kids safe for the night. Anyone who’s played a Supermassive horror title will know that this is a doomed errand, however. No matter how well a player succeeds in the quick time events or whether or not they lie to the cop about what they saw in the road, what happens to them cannot change.
After that, the dulcet tones of Alma Cogan’s rendition of “Fly Me to the Moon” carry the player two months forward in a series of truly beautiful shots that show off just what The Quarry can look like, ending on a title card backed by a glowing full moon. Now, at the end of summer camp, all the kids have left and all the counsellors need to do is pack up their bags and head home in a large van. But one foolish teen, frustrated that a summer fling is destined to end, wants just one more night in the woods. In a last-ditch effort to woo a would-be girlfriend, he messes with the van’s engine, stranding the whole group save for their boss, Chris Hackett, who rides off, promising to return the following morning with help. The only thing the teens have to do is stay inside with the doors locked. But instead they decide to go off and have a final party to cap off their camp experience, forever sealing their fates.
As the night moves on and the full moon rises once again, the group is separated and chased by monsters and hunters alike, trying desperately to figure out just what is going on — not only around them, but also inside of them. After all, like the camp motto says, “What Doesn’t Kill You Will Make You Stronger.” This wouldn’t be fun if the characters themselves weren’t interesting in their own right, but there’s nothing to worry about. Every character is a joy to meet, each with their own unique quirks and flaws that push the story forward. Not all of them are likeable, but even the ones that I’d hate to meet add their own flourishes that make The Quarry even better. While the player generally has the option to put any character they control into an empathic and understanding light (or, alternatively, a mean-spirited and dismissive one), none of the characters feel like they are the same person wearing different bodies, even in single-player. However, if two or more players want to see certain characters abide by different principles, they have the option of using a “pass-the-controller” method of multiplayer within the game itself to decide which characters each person wishes to control.
Eventually, secrets are revealed and the counsellors know what they are dealing with, but how exactly they handle their problem is left up to the player. Good endings are possible, though significantly less numerous than the bad ones. Even then, what is considered to be a desired outcome may change — both for the characters and the player — after events are already put into motion. And other times, the price for victory might be too high. As the game keeps pointing out through its collectibles, the right answer isn’t always easy to find — if that answer is even possible in the first place.
Thankfully, The Quarry does a great job of assisting with its choices and their consequences. As an example, there are a multitude of collectibles to find that either shine some light onto the past events, providing much needed context for the decisions that follow, or give the player a glimpse into possible futures, though these visions are not always easy to decipher. These are the Clues, Evidence, and Tarot Cards, though the cards are a special case. While most collectibles shine a bright blue light from the ground to show they can be interacted with if the player gets close, the Tarot Cards require the player to walk into an unknown, yet specific, area in order to trigger a camera change and collect them. In addition, as the characters make choices or succeed and fail, old VHS tapes representing the fallout of those decisions will update, keeping a record of what has transpired so far. With a game that takes roughly 10–15 hours to complete a playthrough of, this can be a valuable ally in keeping track of what has happened and what’s all in play.
Lastly, there are a series of powerful accessibility options that can be used to adjust a variety of the title’s interactive elements. There are colourblind options and various methods to make different types of quick time events easier to deal with. If the player has already played through The Quarry, even once, they even gain the ability to undo three deaths per game as they happen. By necessity, this doesn’t turn a failure into a success. Instead, it merely rolls back the story to the last relevant point where the player had a chance to save the dead character’s life. Usually, this is right before their death, but this feature can turn back time further than that, reaching into prior chapters. Rarely, this can even push someone back towards the beginning of the game, so remember: even do-overs have consequences. Plus, if you nab the Deluxe Edition, you can start with this option already available.
The Quarry is a fantastic occasion that everyone should try at least once — assuming that horror is up their alley, in any case — but the game’s multiple endings and varied final paths offer a great amount of replay value. After completing one night at Hackett’s Quarry, the player unlocks a Chapter Select feature, allowing them to pick back up from an earlier position while keeping previous successes — and failures — locked in. That way, instead of having to redo part of a given attempt that the player is satisfied with, they have the freedom to begin with the sections they most want to redo. With it, I was able to turn my own last-minute failure around into an ending where everyone lived. It can be very fun to make decisions like they’re a shot in the dark, but there’s something to be said for knowing what’s around the corner. Which is more nerve-wracking: not knowing what lies down two scary paths or knowing that one of them hides a survivable but costly danger and having to decide whether to risk the unknown or to pay the toll? Either way, The Quarry is a joy — and a terrified scream — to play.