(Xb/PS/PC) **** Age: 18+
You’ve seen this movie before. Hell, you’ve probably played this game before too. But that doesn’t stop The Quarry supplying a steady stream of schlocky chills and thrills in what approximates to a playable teen-slasher movie.
UK developer Supermassive Games has produced a conveyor belt of similar interactive horror flicks since it first found success with 2015’s Until Dawn, which starred Hollywood alums Hayden Panettiere and Peter Stormare. The Quarry follows this reliable formula with a recognisable cast, including old hands David Arquette, Lance Henriksen and Grace Zabriskie alongside a troupe of younger, fresher faces who get themselves into peril at a spooky summer camp.
All are rendered in startling detail with impressive motion capture that only rarely descends into the uncanny valley.
You could reliably predict much of the story arc – frisky teens ignore all dire warnings from the adults as the cover of night descends – but Supermassive still manages to pull the rug from under your expectations now and then, even without a procession of jump scares.
Wedded to a sparky script, which makes almost all of the seven teens equally annoying, the game slowly builds a series of relationships between the young characters while regularly reminding us something evil lurks in the woods.
Lengthy sections of the gameplay consist of extended cut-scenes interspersed with brief quick-time events requiring a binary choice of dialogue or, occasionally, a test of reactions to avoid an accident. Supermassive proudly touts a total of 186 endings based on your decisions, which may lead to the death or survival of many characters.
It’s just as well the script crackles with one-liners and narrative feints because The Quarry depends on a fairly hackneyed series of cliches recognisable to fans of slasher movies such as Scream. Early on, one fella nods knowingly at a basement and says: “You’ve seen Evil Dead, right?” And still he goes down through the door while we yell “No!” at the screen.
Supermassive acknowledges this debt with a Movie Mode that leaves the game to play itself while you watch passively (not nearly as much as fun). More successful is Co-op Mode, in which you pass the controller among your pals to choose story paths (and usually make an amusingly fatal decision).
The game succeeds largely because it is so knowing, leaning into our familiarity with the gory genre while sporadically wrongfooting our perspective. Replaying it for alternate endings doesn’t feel like an attractive option nonetheless given the lack of interactivity in long sections of the game.
While the Quarry lays on the atmosphere with a shovel but it doesn’t take much to dig beneath the surface and finds its shallow core.