The Quarry preview: Teen angst and tense, campy terror
I know what I'm doing this summer.
Growing up in the '90s, "Family Movie Night" was a time-honored tradition in my household. Like many other families I knew, we’d gather around our gargantuan 37-inch CRT TV once a week and celebrate the magic of cinema together. However, instead of G-rated frolics filled with whimsical characters and heavy-handed moral messages, our screen projected bouquets of blood, gaggles of gore, and troves of terror. My family bonded over grisly, cheesy horror movies. I’ve been honored to continue that tradition with friends and loved ones.
Sadly, as I’ve gotten older and moved away from hometown buddies and family, it’s become significantly more challenging to congregate folks around a screen to watch horror movies. Thankfully, modern tech has made remote viewing and interaction more effortless than ever. Game developers like Supermassive Games, the studio behind the cult classic Until dawn, are spearheading the efforts to connect players through the power of horror. From local multiplayer modes designed to get friends on the couch together to online co-op with titles like Man of Medan, Supermassive Games is keeping my scary movie tradition alive.
I recently had the opportunity to go hands-on with this horror-centric developer’s upcoming project, The Quarry. As an enormous horror fan, I was stoked to see legendary genre icons like Lin Shaye, Ted Raimi, David Arquette, Lance Henriksen, and countless other noteworthy cast members featured in the reveal trailer. After spending roughly one hour playing through a couple of chapters from this nostalgic homage to horror’s past, I’m feeling tremendously optimistic about the potential of Supermassive Game’s latest. The Quarry is shaping up to be a campy summer blockbuster oozing with teen angst and tense terror.
What is The Quarry?
For those unfamiliar with titles like Until Dawn or The Dark Pictures Anthology, The Quarry continues the studio’s legacy of delivering cinematic, choice-driven, and narrative-focused horror entertainment. Players are tossed into the shoes of a group of teen counselors celebrating their last night together at Hackett’s Quarry. Unfortunately, as you might expect if you’ve seen any '80s horror flick, nothing good ever happens to camp counselors after hours, and this group of eclectic personalities is in for an evening of abject dread.
The Quarry challenges players who’ve historically found themselves screaming at their TVs over the baffling decisions made by horror movie protagonists and puts the life-or-death decisions of these heroes in your hands. Instead of helplessly shouting “NO, GIRL! DON’T GO IN THE HOUSE,” players are empowered to navigate our leads through hellish scenarios. Do you rush to help an injured companion alone or scramble towards the group to get help? It’s up to you to decide, and how you choose to guide the story can ultimately cost one of these counselors their life.
Combining "choose your own adventure" inspired decision-making with gameplay-driven moments of player control and even a splash of mild combat aims to provide a well-rounded narrative experience. Longtime fans of horror will immediately recognize numerous nods to classic tropes, genre staples, and the absolutely stellar cast. Much like the revered approach of Until Dawn, The Quarry wants to be a quintessential slasher in video game form. And to the team’s credit, it doesn’t get campier than a tale of tortured camp counselors.
Titans of teen angst
Based on my brief preview, one of my favorite aspects of The Quarry was how this modern video game paid tribute to classic horror character cliches. The infamous archetypes of decades past are here and cleverly retooled for a new audience. From Jacob, the handsome, self-centered jock, to Abigail, the quiet, sensitive artist, these camp counselors feel like aggressively dramatized caricatures pulled from distinct high school social circles. As someone with serious nostalgia for dated teen movies, I couldn’t help but feel charmed by their exaggerated personality quirks.
A choice sequence during Chapter 2 boldly demonstrates these character dynamics as we witness a handful of our tenacious teens mingling around a crackling campfire. This is potentially the last time these colleagues turned friends could see each other. Our group wants to ensure the night delivers a memorable sendoff. Ever the devilish goofball, Dylan suggests a riveting game of Truth or Dare.
While the festivities begin harmless enough, tensions quickly boil over when Emma, who is kinda-sorta seeing Jacob, is dared to kiss soft-spoken Nick, who happens to have a thing for Abigail. Jacob explodes in a jealous fit, confronting Nick for kissing his “girlfriend” before eventually storming off. Visually uncomfortable with the entire situation, Abigail, who also appears to have feelings for Nick, exits the scene flustered.
These ticking teen-angst time bombs act as the catalyst to separate and isolate our protagonists, and plenty of classic horror films would consider this ample opportunity for a brutal execution. However, The Quarry spends considerable time fleshing out the motivations of these characters and working to sell the audience on their authenticity. Following Jacob’s sensational retreat, we’re presented with a touching scene where this outwardly invincible individual sheds tears while confessing his feelings for Emma.
These moments of well-constructed humanity helped keep me invested in the well-being of these characters. Jacob’s bravado and unwillingness to accept shortcomings would typically be his downfall based on traditional horror archetypes. Still, I found myself rooting for his survival because of Supermassive Game’s wrinkles in the jock stereotype. I hope the full experience gives all of these counselors the same opportunities to worm their way into my heart.
The horrors of Hackett’s Quarry
Compelling characters and fruitful interactions are all well and good, but what’s a decent slasher without some supernatural predators or relentless abominations? In Until Dawn, Supermassive Games brilliantly introduced a Wendigo as a unique featured creature. And because of their storied history of working with unconventional terrors, I’ve been speculating on what the antagonist or antagonists of The Quarry could be ever since watching the reveal trailer.
In my preview of this narrative-driven horror game, I had the opportunity to endure a particularly potent sequence of scares featuring an unknown entity. A passionate moment between Nick and Abigail is abruptly interrupted by an inhuman screech. Frightened by the foreign sound, the pair desperately begins rushing back towards camp. Nick is viciously attacked and wounded by the shadowed creature in the commotion. My decision led to Abigail attempting to assist Nick with his injuries, culminating in a nightmarish chase sequence through the forest with this nimble beast hunting Abigail.
Despite seeing some obscured features and ghastly silhouettes, my experience with The Quarry didn’t end with a monstrous reveal. Obviously, after playing, I have some better guesses as to what the horror of Hackett’s Quarry could be, but to avoid spoilers for players, I won’t be sharing any speculation in this regard. To maintain an air of mystery for hopefully horror enthusiasts, I will say that I’m incredibly excited to see what the Gorefest Movie Mode offers after getting a taste of what’s in store.
Should you be excited about The Quarry?
For fans of Supermassive Games or horror games in general, The Quarry should undoubtedly be on your radar. The decision-driven gameplay seems more thoughtful than ever, and significant refinements to the presentation provide the best-looking experience this team has delivered so far. It’s too early to say whether or not The Quarry will deliver on the fascinating narrative beats I enjoyed during my preview, but it’s clear that Supermassive Games is positioning The Quarry to be its biggest horror blockbuster.
My impressions of The Quarry are based on a PC preview build, which I played on my desktop and even Steam Deck. On both devices, there were a handful of performance hitches during scene transitions, but overall I was able to maintain consistent frame rates with respectable visual fidelity. As there will be $10 upcharges for the Xbox Series X|S and PS5 compatible versions of The Quarry, I’ll be incredibly interested to see how those enhancements compare to their previous-gen counterparts.
The Quarry is currently scheduled to release on PC, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS4, and PS5 on June 10, 2022.
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Miles Dompier is a Freelance Video Producer for Windows Central, focusing on video content for Windows Central Gaming. In addition to writing or producing news, reviews, and gaming guides, Miles delivers fun, community-focused videos for the Windows Central Gaming YouTube channel. Miles also hosts Xbox Chaturdays every Saturday, which serves as the Windows Central Gaming weekly podcast.