Summer camp is over, the kids have rolled on home in a military-grade bus that wouldn’t even fit on your average UK road, and the camp counsellors are ready to call the season well and truly dusted.
Except they can’t. Their engine won’t start. And despite the groundskeeper’s plea that they spend their impromptu last night in the supplied cabin and nowhere else, the college(?) kids decide to break out the firewood and retro snacks, and play Truth or Dare in the woods after finding a surveillance room hidden in the guy’s closest. Was it for the monsters, the animals, or the kids? Either way, nobody was told, and that’s probably a breach of privacy: and there’s no greater horror than that.
Right before we get to making couples smooch other people on the lips around the hearth, though, we’re treated to a game of shooting up watermelons with a shotgun in the best in-game shooty tutorial I’ve seen since Big Gaz applauded my watermelon killing prowess in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare all those years ago. My watermelon killing skills were remarkable then, and they still are now. Thanks, Big Gaz.
Destiny in My Cold, Dead Hands
I don’t know what it is about large fruit that makes another otherwise mundane how-to retain my attention, but between the competing character forgetting every bit of advice he was given, to mine gloating with a cheesy jingle about Peanut Butter Butter Pops or something, I was looking forward to putting my new-found skills to the test: but the opportunity never presented itself beyond shining the attached flashlight against some trees close to an hour later.
The Quarry is literally the name of the game here, and watching teenagers drop dead one by one is the aim. Ok, you’re probably expected to do what you can to keep them alive, but I’ve long since realised that I’m no good at making snap decisions, and that led to a fatality or two within the first hour that I was able to preview of Supermassive Games’ newest title starring a bunch of Hollywood likenesses like Justice Smith and David Arquette.
When they say that your actions have consequences in The Quarry, they really mean it. You’re either having to select a path, slap a button, hold your breath, or precariously wander around a fixed-camera scene straight from the Resident Evil, finding clues, cards, and whatever else that might just lead you down the right (or wrong) path as your one last night under the stars turns from a presumed final farewell to an absolute one.
Every. Choice. Matters - I’ve Seen the Proof
If you take your eyes off things for a second, you’re going to wonder whether what just happened was pre-ordained or entirely down to your shoddy attention span, slow reactions, or indecisiveness. In my case, it was often all of the above: and for the sake of the camp counsellors, I hope yours is better.
There’s no telling how many endings there are in this vastly interactive b-tier horror title, but with just how many choices you’re forced to make in a short period of time, the character’s probably won’t be able to count them on how many fingers they manage to keep on their presumed two hands by the end of it.
We don’t really know what’s doing the damage out there in the woods, but as the ever-awkward game of Truth or Dare sends the pack in different directions to scowl, stomp, and sob at each other, it’s only a matter of time before the secrets of the shroud around the quarry begin to make themselves known.
Somehow, Darkness Shines Bright
Playing The Quarry in the dead of night is absolutely going to be the way to go. Though there’s no mention of RTX support on PC, the RTX 2060 recommended requirement suggested I’d be in for a good-looking romp around an appropriately eerie forest: it wasn’t wrong.
Generous foliage adds the depth you’d expect of the American Rockies, and flashlights, pendants, and fire pits offered just enough contrasting light against the dreary backdrop to keep things feeling both warm and harsh at the same time. Your average PC monitor isn’t really going to do things justice here, but if you’re rocking a half-decent HDR panel on your console, you’re in for a treat. And if not, there’s a retro VHS filter there to change the entire vibe.
Overall, what I played of The Quarry was a relatively engrossing interactive story. I say “played” with an asterisk: the opening chapters are very much QTE-based branching cutscenes with light third-person exploration scenes. It’s hard to say how the full game will pan out, but as I alluded to earlier, I never did get a chance to shoot that shotty before my demo ended. I assumed it was going to be more Alan Wake than Gears of War, but it was neither.
Beyond the mysteries of gameplay, though, I was drawn in by the impressively life-like motion capture work, enthralled by the strong performances of the actors you wouldn’t expect anything less off, and enamoured by the brief little segments of point-and-click gameplay: like taking a nice photo of the tower overlooking the lake and that whole deal with the waste of perfectly good produce.
I’m not entirely sold on the idea of sitting through the whole thing at my desk right now, but cooped up on the couch in the dead of night with a gamepad under a blanket and a decent drink by my side? I can see it working. The Quarry hits PlayStation®5, PlayStation®4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and Windows PC via Steam on June 10, 2022 with single-player, couch co-op, and movie modes to name a few. That last one works for me.