I’ve been checking out a preview of Supermassive Games’ upcoming game, The Quarry.
Horror games these days seem to be the sole reserve of Resident Evil and any number of the similarly inspired zombie titles out there. Sure, the Resident Evil games have their shocking moments, but it’s mainly a bit of gore, some puzzles, and some action. Same with Dying Light and Days Gone, the horror is sidelined by the action-adventure element. None of them manage to get under your skin. These games are not going to give you the heebie-jeebies and make you want to switch the hallway light on rather than feel your way to your bedroom at night.
The same can’t be said of Supermassive Games’ crop of narrative horror games. The British developer has taken what is an evolution of the point-and-click adventure games of the past and added photoreal characters based on the motion-captured performances of big-name TV and film actors. With movie-like scripts and recognisable faces, the developers’ games offer players a rather unique and immersive experience.
When I first heard about The Quarry and that it was being published by 2K Games I was a little perplexed. We are still in the midst of Supermassive’s macabre series of similar games, The Dark Pictures Anthology, with the last part of the mooted first season, The Devil in Me, yet to be released.
On playing a bit of The Quarry, I began to understand why the game has got its own release rather than just being part of The Dark Pictures Anthology. Whilst The Dark Pictures games Man of Medan, Little Hope, and House of Ashes share very similar gameplay to The Quarry, they are styled more like episodes of a macabre TV show. The Quarry, on the other hand, like the 2015 PlayStation 4 exclusive, Until Dawn, is more of an 80s-style teen horror flick.
The Quarry’s premise is similar to any number of teen slasher movies, a set-up that is almost a cliché in its inception. It’s the end of summer, the last day of Hacketts Quarry Summer Camp. Having waved the kids away, the nine camp counsellors decide to stay on for one more night and hold an epic bonfire party before they depart the next morning. What could possibly go wrong?
The preview gameplay only afforded me a brief look at The Quarry. The edited scenes spent quite some time allowing me to get to know the protagonists. As with Until Dawn, the game wants players to grow attached to the game’s protagonists as the grim events unfold.
The game follows Supermassive’s familiar style of narrative horror games. Players switch between controlling each one of a group of characters, making choices that could mean the difference between life and death. Each playthrough is different, depending on the choices made. Players are responsible for characters’ actions, not only with the environment but also the interactions between each other. A flippant comment may offend, or a bad lie may lead to mistrust, which could have consequences later on in the game.
Supermassive has taken a big risk in using familiar actors and a photoreal visual style for the game. Advances in technology have started to push CGI beyond the dreaded “uncanny valley”. The characters, especially the eyes, convey realistic expressions that make the game easy to get immersed in. But it’s not only the character models that impressed me.
The preview allowed me to explore the area around the quarry which is packed with little details suggesting something sinister is afoot. These photoreal outdoor environments have been meticulously designed with expertly employed cinematic lighting. Even the character’s walking animations, which were a weak point in The Dark Pictures Anthology games, seem to have been improved for The Quarry.
All-in-all, The Quarry seems to capture the look and feel of the 80s teen horror movies that I grew up with. Whether this nostalgia resonates the same way with younger players remains to be seen, but the game, as a proper interactive horror title should still appeal when it releases on 10th June.