The Quarry Preview (Spoiler Free)
Whether you call its creations videogames or playable movies, Supermassive Games owns a very specific entertainment niche. Specializing in games with rich production values, Hollywood-quality acting, and terror-inducing situations, Supermassive knows how to scare the crap out of people. With the upcoming The Quarry, gamers should prepare for another tension-filled good time.
Obviously inspired by directors such as Wes Craven, Supermassive’s games are unmistakable. They create an ensemble of characters and throw them at an adversary. Cast members disappear, there are grisly murders, and players make critical choices along the way. While some argue that games like Until Dawn or The Dark Pictures Anthology traffic a little too heavily in horror cliches, the games are always engaging and genuinely, unsettlingly scary. The Quarry is no different.
This One Time at Summer Camp
Set to release on June 10, The Quarry starts with a stop-me-if-you’ve-heard-this-before premise. Nine teens are preparing to leave a summer of fun as camp counselors at one of those made-for-terror, backwoods locations called Hackett’s Quarry. Of course, they’ve spent the summer flirting, hooking up and fomenting jealousies and resentments. Just as predictably, they’re all attractive and fit expected horror movie roles. There’s the shy girl with a secret crush, the dude with the English accent, the insufferable jock, and the sassy girl who takes charge.
When the gang throws a final night blow-out party, the fun starts to unravel. A game of truth or dare gets out of hand, someone storms off alone into the woods, and the night of terror begins. Without giving anything away, you can expect creepy locals and a vicious monster that is stalking the campers. There are lots of unsettling side characters, like the old crone tarot card reader who makes disturbing predictions about the future based on cards you collect in the game.
Every chapter moves the player to a different character to continue the story. There are lots of quick-time events and rapid decisions to make that have a significant impact on the narrative. Dialogue choices influence shifting relationships and combat plays a role as well. Of course, the mysteries surrounding Hackett’s Quarry are both at the core of the story and the driving force behind the events.
A-Listers and Triple-A Production
Supermassive games have a well-deserved reputation for outstanding production values that are of literally cinematic quality. The Quarry appears poised to set the bar even higher. In addition to the detailed environments and moody lighting, The Quarry’s performance capture is amazingly good. There’s rarely even a hint of the uncanny valley and lip syncing is spot on. The result is movie-level visual fidelity.
When you play a game that features gifted, experienced actors, you remember how important this is to creating an effective narrative. The ensemble includes action-movie veterans including David Arquette (“Scream” franchise), Ariel Winter (“Modern Family”), Justice Smith (“Jurassic World”), Brenda Song (“Dollface”), Lance Henriksen (“Aliens”), and Lin Shaye (“A Nightmare on Elm Street”). It’s an impressive cast.
There may be nothing inherently remarkable about a teen slasher movie or game. It’s what the creative team does with the familiar premise that’s important. From the hour or so I spent with The Quarry, it felt like a game with great pacing. It had an effective balance of violence, tension, humor, and characterization. It gave the player meaningful choices. There were plenty of well-earned jump scares and lots of narrative foreshadowing. Most importantly, there were engaging mysteries to unravel.
Prepare for Terror
Supermassive’s Dark Pictures Anthology of three games was ambitious but uneven. The Quarry is an all-new narrative and setting. It replaces sprawling, multi-game storytelling with a much more taut and focused experience. It takes some familiar situations to unexpected places and provides lots of scary fun along the way. I enjoyed the cast of characters, the incredibly high production values, and the creepy tension. I’m really looking forward to seeing how the story ends when the game is released this coming June.
***PC code provided by the publisher for preview***