The Quarry seems to be Supermassive at their very best
Supermassive is almost ready with their most ambitious game to date, and there's plenty to look forward to.
I still remember when I first played Until Dawn. A bunch of stupid young people, and my attempt to keep the love-starved teenagers alive while a killer tried to kill them one by one, as inspired by horror movies from the 90s. Some of the young people were so stupid that you didn't really come to miss them, but some of them ended up being quite sensible young people that you came to like. They grew up under a lot of pressure and you felt, in a way, responsible. It was a triumph, to say the least, and through it developer Supermassive began a journey, one that goes through Bandai Namco and the ongoing The Dark Pictures anthology, but which actually culminates elsewhere. They're at it again, this time with 2K, with a game in the same vein, and I've had access to a small slice of the full game, where I've been trying to solve the mystery, and save the many young people who must, in a familiar fashion, survive a night... this time in The Quarry.
The Quarry starts by following a young couple on their way to a summer holiday camp. Laura and Max are the names of the two young people who are going to be counsellors to a group of even younger people. They are lost, however, and suddenly Max tears at the steering wheel to avoid a creature in the road, so they drive into a ditch, after which their car won't start. Laura begins to explore the swamp they've landed in, and after sensing she's being watched, she runs back to the car, where Max has finally got it started again. Unfortunately they get stuck in the mud, and not only that, but soon after they are joined by a very sinister police officer, played by Ted Raimi, the brother of famed director Sam Raimi. He plays it fantastically, but more on that later. The cop gets the two camp leaders back on the road, and orders them to drive to the nearest hotel, and not to the camp where they were supposed to go. After the cop leaves, Laura decides to ignore him and they drive to the camp anyway, which later turns out to be a bad idea, for reasons I won't spoil.
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After the prologue we return to the camp some time after the two camp leaders ignored the officer. Here we meet a new group of young camp leaders who, after the kids have gone home, are packing their gear as they are leaving that day. Several of the young people have become a little 'hot' for each other, and it all reminds me a lot of Until Dawn. One of the young people, called Jacob, has fallen in love with the beautiful young influencer Emma, and sabotages the bus they were all going to be driven home in to spend more time with her. It all oozes of B-movie, of slasher atmosphere, of yes... Until Dawn.
You might be tempted to think that Until Dawn and The Quarry are very similar, but I think the characters feel more realistic in the latter game. I myself was a big fan of Emma, who could quickly be suspected of being the typical cheerleader type seen in so many American movies, but she's actually pretty cool, and intelligent, even if she can be a little harsh on Jacob - it's definitely deserved as he's the cause of everything the youngsters will experience on their last night at camp. Ryan, a quieter guy who loves listening to podcasts about paranormal events, is also a pretty cool character, mostly because there are two other characters trying to pick on him, but he doesn't really care. I like the characters, and the fact that they're more realistic also makes me believe and hope that the rest of the game isn't one big horror movie like Until Dawn was, but that there's also room to see them develop.
Instead, I get distinct X-Files vibes with the part of the story I've experienced. The young people and the larger cast make me look forward to experiencing the story in its entirety. There are legends like the aforementioned Ted Raimi, who in my opinion is a very underrated actor, and who fabulously plays his part of the game I've experienced. Lance Henriksen is also there, who you can find in movies like the Alien series, as is David Arquette who you've seen in the Scream series. So there are a lot of familiar faces in the game, and that bodes well for the rest.
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Mechanically, The Quarry is essentially an adventure with a lot of so-called "quicktime" sequences, and if you've played previous Supermassive titles, it's not like it's reinvented here. To survive various scenes with the assorted characters that can seemingly scramble off at any moment, you have to enter sequences of button presses on your controller. There are also sequences where you have to hold your breath through the same button presses. This is taken out of Supermassive's The Dark Pictures series. I'm not personally a big fan of these quick button presses that The Quarry uses, but I have to admit they do add some tension, and they can also lead to scenes ending up in completely different places. The Quarry does have options for avoiding these button presses altogether, so the game itself takes care of them, but that also means that the difficulty drops off rather drastically to what I can only describe as ridiculously easy. The option is there though, should you have difficulty with these frantic sequences.
Aside from these sequences, you steer your character around and have to look for evidence, which together should give you an idea of what's going on. For example, if you find a drawing from a child in the camp, there will be several question marks underneath it, which turn into exclamation points when you find other relevant evidence, and that way you can get to the truth, because as we all know, the truth is out there somewhere.
The point is that once again it becomes the story, and how much the game allows the player to shape their own narrative becomes the deciding factor, rather than mechanical depth. Supermassive knows, if nothing else, what they're going for here, and you can only respect them for betting hard on a few ideas, rather than embracing too broad of a concept.
Supermassive says this is not only their most customisable game to date, but also the best looking, and they're right. It sure is a good looking game. I could run the game on the wildest graphic settings, and in certain scenes I couldn't tell the difference between the graphics and reality. It looked like a movie. It was immensely beautiful. There were some graphical flaws along the way though, especially the young people's hair, which went crazy and behaved very chaotically. Overall, though, I'm impressed, and I'm really looking forward to seeing if this quality is maintained later in the game.
The Quarry looks really exciting, based on what I've played if nothing else, and I hope it can live up to the potential that's been showcased in the demo I've played.