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The Quarry Is Shaping Up to Be a True Until Dawn Successor (Hands-On Preview)


The Quarry Is Shaping Up to Be a True Until Dawn Successor (Hands-On Preview)

Until Dawn has long had a special place in my heart. Ever since its release in 2015, I’ve been clamoring for the star-studded, schlocky horror game that puts player choice at its heart to get a sequel. So when Bandai Namco and Supermassive Games announced The Dark Pictures Anthology, I was suitably hyped. For one reason or another, though, I’ve largely felt these have missed the mark. The dialog felt awkward, the storylines and scares a little lackluster, and they’ve just failed to capture that campy horror magic that Supermassive’s 2015 managed to do so well. After having spent an hour or two with the camp counsellors of The Quarry, however, my hope (and hype) for a true Until Dawn successor has been reignited, albeit with a few, typical decision-based flaws.

The Quarry is a collaborative effort between Supermassive Games and publisher 2K Games, and follows the story of nine teenage counselors on the last night of summer camp. Despite being warned to stay inside by the camp leader, Mr. Hackett, they decide to have one last blowout bonfire, and split up to gather supplies for the evening ahead like firewood, snacks, or just hang about curating the perfect playlist for the after-dark antics.

In the chunk of the game I played for this preview, the counsellors were just regrouping at the campfire by the lake, kindling, a literal wheelbarrow of snacks in-hand, and a shotgun that they found lying around in a supply closet… because that doesn’t sound like a recipe for disaster at all.

It’s at this point I got to see how the various camp counsellors interacted with one another. Kaitlyn is the more sensible, risk-averse one with plenty of quick-witted sass that she uses to keep the most frat-bro of bros, Jacob in his place. Abigail, on the other hand, has a ‘will-they-won’t-they’ thing going on with Nick, both of which are the quieter and more reserved types, which makes them the perfect pairing and a couple you kinda root for. Emma, on the other hand is definitely the ‘IT’ girl of high school, always looking to cause some drama, and is intent on toying with aforementioned frat-bro Jacob’s feelings as their summer fling comes to an end.

kaitlyn taking a photo on her phone in the quarry

Rounding out the group were Ryan and Dylan, two characters that didn’t get a ton of screen-time or dialog in the 90 minutes or so I played. Ryan seems to be a more calculated individual, using his intelligence to often cut down Jacob, or defend other people in the group from the sinister sides of Dylan and Emma. Outside of literally about 3 or 4 lines, though, Dylan really didn’t have a large part to play in the chapter and a bit I played of The Quarry, so I’m definitely interested to see how he fits into the complex puzzle of personalities that make up the ensemble cast.

Unsurprisingly, The Quarry’s gameplay feels reminiscent of that in Until Dawn and The Dark Pictures Anthology. You’ll choose what the counsellors will say and the actions they take, complete QTEs to help them avoid tripping over obstacles or falling victim to some sinister trap and keep incredibly still during don’t breathe moments where you’ll need to hold your character’s breath until danger has passed.

You’ll also be given the freedom to explore Hackett’s Quarry and its surroundings at times, which is home to plenty of Tarot Cards, newspaper clippings, and other tidbits of evidence that provide context for the world and hints at the exact origins of the spooky goings on.

After a game of truth and dare ends in tears — because they’re teenagers so of course it does — Emma, Jacob, Abigail and Nick end up separated from the rest of the camp, at first individually, before being reunited in their respective ‘love interest’ couples. It’s at this point that the monster of Hackett’s Quarry first rears its ugly head, launching its first attack on Nick shortly after he and Abigail share a soppy moment together (or not, if you’re cold-hearted and hate love). I’m not going to spoil anything about the monster here, but it’s certainly got the potential to truly terrorize the counsellors on their last night, and the mysterious and seemingly unfriendly locals are the final ingredient in what’s shaping up to be an epic, schlocky, campy horror game that I’m just desperate to dive into further.

nick and abigail about to kiss

There’s a production level here that just feels a cut above The Dark Pictures Anthology. All of the character dialog, models and motion capture are spot-on to the point it really is like directing your own horror movie on-the-fly. Environments are stunningly detailed and the writing hits the perfect balance of typical teenage dialog and campy horror that lays the foundations for a gripping rollercoaster ride of jump scares, gory deaths, and heart-in-mouth moments.

There are a few rough edges here and there in this preview build, but with some time still to go before launch, I’m cautiously optimistic that Supermassive Games can get these ironed in time. I’m also a sucker for excellently curated soundtracks in games, and oh boy does The Quarry use it to elevate its more dialog-driven moments. Even the tutorials are these awesome little cartoony animated clips that wouldn’t feel out of place at a summer camp induction.

I had enough time to play through the preview section of The Quarry a few times, and so I put the various choices to the test to see just how more the story could branch off in different directions. Some of these do lead to minor diversions in the story, but it ultimately always comes back to the same critical path, at least in the small chunk I got to play. For example, choosing to help or abandon Nick when he’s attacked by the monster ultimately resulted in the same chase scene playing out, and the scene ending in the same way with Abigail. The outcome of Nick at the very end of the segment was slightly different, but he still survived either way.

That being said, it’s very difficult to say just how significant the choices I made in the 90 minute chunk of the game I played will fit into the grander scheme of the narrative. Supermassive Games does have a history of ensuring your past choices come back to haunt or help you when you least expect it, so here’s hoping it’ll be the same again here.

local resident bobby looking menacing by the campfire

In another instance, Jacob loses a Rotor Arm in the lake, and having chosen to dive back in after it, he spots it and I had the choice to grab it or surface. Not knowing whether he’d be able to hold his breath for that long, I opted to surface, assuming he’d dive back down to grab it, now he knew where it was. But he didn’t. He just left it and the scene ended.

In that regard, it appears as though The Quarry still suffers from vague choices that don’t always have the wiggle room to play out as you’d expect which can be frustrating. Though, given these are highly replayable games, at least you’ll know for next time.

Even with these shortcomings, I’m still more excited to see how The Quarry unfolds than I have been about any of The Dark Pictures Anthology titles. This latest effort feels like the same perfect storm of solid writing, spooky setting, strong performances from a star-studded cast, and all the campy horror tropes that made Until Dawn such a fan-favorite. June 10th can’t come soon enough.

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