The Quarry begins on a full moon night. A couple of young Americans drive through a forest while listening Moonlight by Ariana Grande. Max and Laura are lost and start arguing. They are far from suspecting the ordeal that awaits them: a prowling beast, haunted woods, a threatening local policeman, a closed chalet with disturbing basements…
Unlike the characters in this prologue, we had a small idea of the program concocted by Supermassive Games. After Until Dawnsurprise success of the year 2015, then the series Dark Pictures Anthologylaunched in 2019, the English studio is taking up an already well-established formula: that of a narrative game that pays homage to horror cinema and whose scenario adapts to the player’s choices.
The Quarryavailable on June 10 on Xbox (One and Series), PlayStation (4 and 5) and PC consoles, is however more ambitious in its length – the story lasts more than ten hours – and its complexity – the developers boast to offer 186 different endings.
Welcome to the beast age
After the prologue, we incarnate in turn seven teenage instructors who spend their last night in a holiday camp. Two introverted geeks, a mindless sportsman, a dark handsome man, a seductive blonde, a precious nerd and a strong woman… The gallery of characters refers to the archetypes of teen moviespopularized in the 1980s.
The Quarry takes his time to introduce the places and the characters. During the first three chapters, it is a question of whether or not to establish romances – from an unfortunately pre-established list – and to identify the motivations of each. Despite the ambient tranquility, it is essential to stay focused. Certain decisions or objects found during the exposure scenes, a priori trivial, can turn out to be crucial in the home stretch.
The surprise and the turnarounds that accompany the bloody changeover of the evening may have provoked our enthusiasm, but they are not without blunders. The discovery of the creature aroused in us more mockery than fear. But as is de rigueur in some horror films, the surge of violence has the liberating effect of breaking down stereotypes. Annoying and irresponsible at first, the youngsters will have the opportunity to toughen up and gradually gain depth… Provided they stay alive long enough.
The vertigo of possibilities
The scenario with variable geography is the alpha and the omega of this video game experience which gains in depth over time. No particular dexterity is required on our part: only our flair counts to anticipate danger or learn from our mistakes.
If we spend a third of our time exploring disturbing places to flush out hidden objects or find other characters, the rest is much less interactive. Those who do not like to stare at a screen without doing anything then risk getting bored: from time to time, our reflexes are put to the test when we are asked to press a button for a short period of time, but, in general, it is simply a question of choosing, at the turn of a dialogue, between two answers.
To be kind or not? Lie or be honest? Although the Manichaean framework is often legible, the boundaries are gradually blurring. The use of firearms, for example, requires precautions: unlike many video games which encourage shooting on sight, in The Quarry putting a gun in the hands of a scared fool can have fatal consequences for his friends. But not using it at the right time can also cost a character their life.
Despite the lack of difficulty, only the most discerning and a lucky few will complete all the objectives on the first try. With five teenagers dead in excruciating pain, our record was not glorious. We also failed to complete the secondary missions which aim to end the supernatural curse and eliminate the degenerate family.
Flirt, humor and chills
A question remains when the end credits fall: what is the point of the 186 possible paths when most players will only take one? Of the ten chapters we went through, one or two turned out to be softer and shorter than others. Something tells us it’s because we’ve borrowed the less vigorous branches of the abundant story tree.
Finally, one of the satisfactions drawn from the experience is that of the virtual paths that we imagine during the games. It piques our curiosity and keeps us coming back to earlier chapters – or watching other players try it, on YouTube or Twitch.
But all in all, it’s the unique atmosphere that finally convinced us to start a game again. Despite the frustration of not being able to pass the sequences already seen, the mixture of flirt, humor and thrills always hits the mark.
Supermassive Games was inspired by movies from the 1980s-1990s (Howls, evil Dead Where Scream) which do not hide the fact that they are entertainment. Contrary to the vogue for cerebral and aesthetic horror that makes us sweat profusely (Resident Evil VII, The Medium), the best way to appreciate The Quarry is to play it slumped on a sofa while eating popcorn, if possible with a joking accomplice to pass the controller to.
- flirting, humor and thrills, which go hand in hand;
- a cast of impeccable actors;
- a beautiful declaration of love to genre cinema.
We liked less:
- certain choices that are too binary;
- creature design;
- some chapters much less thrilling than others.
It’s more for you if:
- you are looking for pure entertainment to replace your favorite thriller series;
- you like horror films from the last century (preferably in their original version);
- you wonder what a sequel would look like Life Is Strange imagined by Wes Craven or Joe Dante.
It’s not for you if:
- you fall asleep as soon as the cutscenes are too long;
- high school students annoy you;
- you are afraid of ghosts, big beasts, hunters who shoot at everything that moves and blood that flows by hectolitres;
- you are under the age of 18 (this is not said by us, but by the European video game rating system).
Three uninjured teenagers + one “cursed” out of five instructors killed.