The protagonists of The Quarry are a delightful set of dipshits. They straddle the line between being fun and obnoxious, running the teen-archetype gamut from shy bookworms to Riverdale-esque drama queens. Some of these kids are a little more realistic, while others aren’t here to make friends — they’re here to start trouble or break hearts. There are dramatic love triangles, secret kisses, and unrequited longing.
But they all have one thing in common: They’re here to get murdered. How many of them survive is up to you.
The Quarry developer Supermassive Games is taking another swing at recapturing the magic of Until Dawn, the studio’s teen horror debut from 2015, for its new multi-platform game. The Quarry shares many of the same pillars: a sprawling cast of characters, slasher-film aesthetics, and an emphasis on player choice.
Here’s the setup for Supermassive’s new horror tale: Due to unexpected circumstances, the kids of The Quarry have to spend an extra night at Hackett’s Quarry summer camp. The adults in their lives are oddly terrified at this news, but for the teenagers, it’s just another chance for an epic party. The night starts like a normal summer shindig, but things quickly go off the rails. There’s something out there in the woods, and it doesn’t take kindly to strangers. Add in crows, mysterious whispers, tarot cards, ’80s VHS technology, and rural tall tales, and it’s a recipe for a fun mix between camp and chills.
The cast is large, and the campers bounce off each other in interesting ways. They’re also very proactive, which continually propels the plot forward. The characters aren’t reflecting on deep-seated trauma or complex moral dilemmas. Instead, they’re making choices like Wouldn’t it be funny to swing this gun around? or Why should we wait inside like a bunch of nerds when we can have a bonfire rager?
The teens — played by young Hollywood talent like Justice Smith, Brenda Song, Skyler Gisondo, and Ariel Winter — have simple problems at first, but things become more complicated when they have to focus on survival. That’s an easy dilemma to dive into, and it means the player has opportunities for choice. My character’s love interest is being horribly mauled. Do I try to save him, or flee into the woods? A jock is swimming desperately to get a piece of equipment, and he’s running out of breath. Do I surface and risk losing the precious loot, or stay underwater with all these chains and dead bodies?
Because the cast is so large and overflowing with achingly dumb decisions, there’s room for delight in some of their terrible deaths. The Dark Pictures Anthology from Supermassive has a smaller main cast and encourages the player to protect them carefully, but The Quarry is much more cavalier about throwing members of its cast into the meat grinder.
The Quarry is also much less cerebral than the Dark Pictures Anthology, which loves to complicate its narrative with twists. The Dark Pictures games are steeped in military conspiracies, childhood traumas, and other narrative curveballs. Even the most interpersonally messy game, House of Ashes, is tame compared to The Quarry — there’s only one romantic conflict, as opposed to a whole multitude.
These aren’t Marines or even adults with fully developed frontal lobes — they’re dumb kids, so many of the choices I had to make during my playtime were petty and silly. There are more of these small-scale choices that can branch off in interesting ways, splitting the group or setting the mood for a scene.
The player has to navigate the game via dialogue options and quick-time encounters. Are the teens honest with each other, or evasive? How does the group split up, and do they double back to save each other from peril? Can a survivor climb a tree, or should they focus on fleeing through the underbrush? Supermassive has added a ton of useful accessibility features that make the skill checks very flexible. The player can toggle various options to adjust the difficulty and demand of these checks, so they can be split-second prompts or slower paced.
The Quarry is set to launch on June 10 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. The game’s online multiplayer component, which will let a group decide the teens’ fates, has been delayed for a July 8 release.