The Quarry (Supermassive Games) Review | - Everygamegoing

Everygamegoing


The Quarry
By Supermassive Games
PlayStation 4 (EU Version)

The Quarry

I genuinely wasn't expecting another game on the scale of Until Dawn from Supermassive Games. I have been avidly following their Dark Pictures Anthology series for the past three years and I thought they'd settled into a routine and were working for a whole year on another chapter in that franchise and then releasing it every Halloween. And with the amount of work that surely must go into these multiple-ending, butterfly effect Choose Your Own Adventure decision-making games, I would never have believed they even had the time to release something as big as The Quarry.

However, they have, and it's great fun to play, especially for those of us who are fans of Eighties' horror flicks. The theme music is a clever nod to Nightmare On Elm Street, and if you ever caught An American Werewolf In London, all I can say is that The Quarry is like taking that movie at a ten, and dialling it up to a hundred. It took me over twenty hours to play through the whole thing - an hour of it wasted because I just couldn't seem to trigger a certain event in the scrapyard! - and I was thoroughly entertained throughout. Yes, I suppose the obvious criticism is that it's just more of the same - once again, we get a bunch of teenagers who stumble into danger and need you to keep them alive. But firstly, that's what we all want and, secondly, the quicktime events for this latest incarnation seem to be to finally integrated into the narrative without the stress of some of the previous games. The action now slows down, and every quicktime event is either a rapid tapping of the X key or an instruction to push the right analogue stick in one of four directions when necessary. This more simplistic mechanic means you can enjoy the movie a lot more. You don't have to constantly have one finger hovering over the keypad throughout every scene in case you're, without warning, suddenly required to jab the circle then the triangle within a second!

Reviewing Supermassive Games', um, games is always a bit difficult as you have to straddle the narrative beam of pointing out what works and what doesn't, without giving away any of the twists and turns that await the player. So the obvious boons first: the character modelling is excellent and the voice acting is superb. I don't know how many different endings there are, but, just looking at some of the YouTubers who've streamed their 'run-through' of this game, I'd guess it's in the hundreds. There's really a lot packed into The Quarry - a mysterious ghostly woman who walks the woods, a bunch of Deliverance-style hunters who are also stomping around them with faces caked in blood, a decidedly menacing camp supervisor in the form of Scream's David Arquette, and that's not to mention the all-pervasive silent threat of wolves and hogs. (Indeed, I can think of a hundred better places to host a Kids' Summer Camp.)

And, as for blood and guts, you get those in abundance. Characters can have their heads ripped off, eyes torn out, body parts amputated and/or find their intestines pulled out like strings of sausages. In fact, if you've not controlling a half-naked character caked from head to foot in blood for the bulk of this game, then you're probably not playing it right. Oh, and there's more f***s in here than a rant by Joe Pesci. In the Eighties, this would've certainly been banned outright by the BBFC in the UK as a video nasty likely to deprave and corrupt its audience. So, you've either been warned to keep this away from your children, or, more likely, they'll be forming an orderly queue to get ahold of it.

I don't want to give a blow-by-blow account of all the individual chapters but it won't be giving away too much to describe The Quarry as a slow burn. Well, at least, it was when I played it through. No-one got killed for many, many hours whilst it attempted to define the relationships between the teenage characters. You get to control them as they wander around the closing summer camp (the children have all already gone home, thank God!), pack up their car and make wisecracks about their frenemies. And, yeah, it's all good apart from... well, it's not any more, is it? The characters in The Quarry are tiresome. The women, in particular Emma and Laura, are mostly off-the-scale irritating, with behaviours that would guarantee that, in real life, they would have no boyfriends, let alone friends, at all. The men are stupidly goofy, ridiculously feminised or quite ridiculously and melodramatically creepy (as in the case of the evil police-officer who makes an appearance in the very first scene). In fact, when the horror does descend upon Hackett's Summer Camp, you may find yourself despairing at the limited amount of choices the game gives you, particularly if you're a man playing it. To give one example, as Ryan, you may choose either (a) to point a gun at Laura in a threatening way, or (b) ask your friends for help. But if you choose (b), the game will troll you with a message like "Laura now does not respect you". (Yeah, right, try reversing the genders and see if that would be in any way an appropriate game mechanic!)

Indeed, the women in The Quarry are, almost without exception, argumentative, bullish and bitchy... for no reason at all. Laura, who we're told is in a situationship with Jacob, chooses to stick her tongue down shy Nick's throat in an early campside game of Truth Or Dare, on the (extremely dubious) premise that this might somehow spur Nick to put the moves on Abigail, because it's also clear there's a budding relationship between Nick and Abigail that hasn't yet resulted in so much as a kiss. Laura doesn't consider her boyfriend Jacob's feelings at all during this.

In a subsequent scene, you get to control Jacob and now Laura, who is now feeling horny because... um, reasons... asks you (Jacob) to go for a late night swim with her. Considering she's just disrespected you in front of everybody, it's somewhat surprising that not only do you not get the option to decline her invitation, but when she demands you go off and find her a towel, the game presents you with a 'mission' to locate and retrieve one. I would estimate more than 50% of men would have little interest in going swimming with this woman.

This is also not the first time I've noticed these "relationship blind spots" in Supermassive Games and if you watch a few male streamers playing through The Quarry, they do seem to have an identical reaction to mine. So let this be a wake-up calll: Supermassive, we men are tired of being portrayed as subservient to (bitchy) women in your games; make sure that in your next one, we have the choice of having a backbone.

The swimming cutscene featuring Laura and Jacob is also interesting for another reason - the rendering of the water in which they are swimming is, when compared with the rest of the game, surprisingly awful.

In a sign of the times, The Quarry also includes another "I've never seen that before" feature. When starting it, you will be asked whether you want to play with licensed music or copyright-free alternatives. This feature is uniquely there to cater for YouTube and another streaming sites, so that you may upload a playthrough of The Quarry without your video being removed because of copyright infringement. Is it just me who finds it very weird that Supermassive Games can release The Quarry on a Monday, and by Tuesday, there can be hundreds of pixel-perfect runthroughs of the game on streaming sites and yet it is only the music that's a problem? By which I mean, isn't it more of a problem that there will be a whole swathe of players who don't buy The Quarry itself, but instead just watch runthroughs of it on-line, especially as it's over £50 to buy and it's very much more movie than game? Just a thought.

Anyway, do I recommend The Quarry? Yes, it's great fun. It's got all the familiar elements of this style of adventure game - instead of a creepy Curator or psychiatrist, this one has a ghostly tarot card reader - and some genuinely scary moments. I found it a bit hard to keep track of all of the characters and their relationships and overall it did seem a little bit too long, but graphically and aurally it's a feast. Probably one you'll go back to every couple of years too.

Dave E

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