The Quarry hands-on preview

It’s always a good start for anything horror related when you immediately have very strong opinions on who should live and die. The Quarry cast have definitely nailed the ‘teens in a summer camp’ vibe of a high death count slasher movie, and within moments of meeting them I have a very clear idea of who I will rip the power cable out mid save to keep alive, and who I’ll use like a murder canary to test caves for serial killers.

It’s dangerous to go alone

While this playable horror movie isn’t giving too much away just yet, this is what I’ve got from playing The Quarry so far: there’s a bunch of kids out for one last summer party before college, staying at a campsite in a deserted, isolated quarry. Which definitely hasn’t caused problems for anyone in the past… There’s a local witch legend that might kill them, a creepy cabin housing a mysterious voyeristic stranger that might kill them, local hillbilly types that might kill them, and some sort of monster in the tree line that just wants to give them hugs… sorry, kill them. And that’s assuming they don’t all just horney themselves to death, after an opening game of truth and dare leads to some kissing that manages to alienate, arouse, disappoint, or anger just about everyone at the campsite no matter how you play it. 

The Quarry

(Image credit: Take Two)

The amount of variation in the choices you make is impressive in the small section I tried (lasting somewhere between 45-55 minutes depending on what you choose). I played it twice through and found scenes layered with branches and outcomes that aren’t immediately obvious. Not only are small choices potentially impactful, but some not insubstantial gameplay can be opened up or shut out, according to what you choose. I was expecting to tick through the usual ‘other option cutscenes’ on a replay, but found a surprising amount of significant variation. That game of truth and dare can feature a whole chunk of stuff you can miss out if you play it a certain way, while another section can see a character die a horrible death in a sequence of gameplay that just doesn’t happen if you go along a certain path. 

All these options feel less obvious as well, which I like. While Until Dawn and the Dark Pictures tended to have quite clear ‘this will get you killed’ decision making, The Quarry, so far, has more subtlety. Quite innocuous choices see you gain or lose favor with various cast members, while an unobvious choice can open up that entire sequence where a character can die, or skip it in a way that would mean you never even knew it was there. It’s a game that feels aware of issues in previous SuperMassive games like, for example, when you knew a decision was going to be bad and had to do it anyway. Or when you could die without warning because SURPRISE BUTTON PROMPTOHGODPRESSITNOWPRESSIIIIIT… ah shit, they’re dead.

Press X to die

The Quarry

(Image credit: Take Two)

Now there’s a more nuanced and unpredictable feel to choices that, so far, doesn’t feel unfair – poisoned chalice choices are still obviously going to piss someone off, but so can more innocent ones which feel both more natural, and indicative of who that person is. I felt less like I’d been sideswiped with a ‘they will remember that’ trap, and more like I’d learned more about that character or relationship. Options are also indicated by a clear tone, like ‘mocking’ or ‘sympathetic’, along with a brief summation of what a character will actually say, which makes it feel a little less like a dice roll as to how someone will take something.

It helps that various cast members play their roles well, with performances and writing working to deliver what’s needed in scenes that can branch off at any point, be cut short, or need to include or remove entire sections depending on events and actions. I was genuinely surprised just how much you can cut out of the campfire scene with a fairly minor decision and not have it all collapse. The Quarry does have a clunky feel at the start – there’s a few lines that come across as if every cast member said them in different rooms before being sliced into a single scene by Supermassive – but I’m assuming that’s because of edits made to present a more self-contained preview. Everyone turns up, clearly already introduced in what I played and I’d clearly missed out on some introductions.

The Quarry

(Image credit: Take Two)

I felt a lot more in control overall, or at least less likely to be bushwhacked by a sudden ‘press X to avoid death’ prompt. Although what I played was early on and Until Dawn famously made it fairly easy to keep everyone alive until the last hour, at which point almost anything you did killed someone. Without spoilers, the big action sequence of the preview I played saw people chased through a forest, while I tapped sticks and buttons at prompts to avoid them falling or make choices in a way that felt engaging without being stressful; more like The Quarry was working with me to have fun instead of trying to catch me out. When it comes to deaths, the one I found was clearly telegraphed once you made the choice that caused it and, if I’m completely honest, I had to really put the work in to get the victim killed. This is also where I discovered the new lives system in The Quarry – you get three, and if you lose a character you can spend a life to replay the last scene to save them. That feels, again, like a nice way to make things fun without completely removing the threat (it’s a big cast, so those three lives will have to be very tactically applied). 

It does all feel very Until Dawn again, which I like. Right down to the premonitions you can unlock, this time via tarot cards, to gain a few seconds of garbled video that can give you a warning of some future threat if you recognise the clues. Like Supermassive’s original playable horror love letter, this feels like it’s dialing into all the enjoyable genre pillars of ’80s style slasher movies – lots of flinching behind a cushion jump scares as slightly annoying teenagers proclaim ‘there’s nothing out there’ while obviously being watched from a distance. From the dark-synth opening music, to the campfire chats and creepy locals that might not be evil (but definitely are), this exudes a strong ‘who will survive and what will be left of them’ energy that bodes well for the full game. 

If The Quarry is as silly, bloody, and self aware as my brief time playing suggests, I will happily meet the Class of Victim High 22 on June 10 and lead them into as many ominous dark doorways as it takes.

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