Here at CinemaBlend, it’s not often we shed light and love on video games that aren’t either being adapted into movie or TV franchises, or are themselves adaptations of movie or TV franchises. But some boundaries are meant to be broken, particularly when it comes to my beloved horror genre, and Supermassive Games has been lightly shattering the mold ever since it unleashed Until Dawn’s thrills and kills back in 2015. The company’s summer camp frightfest The Quarry has arrived, and not only is it a total blast, but it’s as close as you’ll get to actually playing a horror movie, with a star-studded mo-capped voice cast (including Modern Family vet Ariel Winter, Scream’s David Arquette, and Prodigal Son vet Halston Sage.
Supermassive’s horror library — which also includes the current trio of spooky, decision-based games in its Dark Pictures Anthology series — is pretty distinct even within the subgenre of interactive, branching-narrative projects (such as Netflix’s Black Mirror: Bandersnatch and others). While visual novels are a dime a dozen at this point, The Quarry is like the cinematic version of that, with completely control over gameplay elements that even make it worthwhile for gorehounds who don’t fall under the gamer category. But more on that below, as we take a spoiler-free dive into why The Quarry is as good as it gets for horror movie fanatics.
The Quarry Fully Embraces Its Horror Influences And Plays Into Genre Expectations
As the spiritual successor to Until Dawn, The Quarry definitely wears its affinity for the entirety of the horror genre on its blood-speckled sleeves, meaning players can expect to see a range of influences on display throughout the story. The game takes place almost entirely at a just-ended summer camp in the non-bustling burg of Hackett’s Quarry, with a group of camp counselors fighting for survival after a night of attempted fun and frolicking turned upside-down thanks to local dangers of all flavors. The setting instantly puts classics like the Friday the 13th franchise and Sleepaway Camp films in mind, even though the similarities don’t necessarily extend much further beyond that.
Admittedly, part of the joy invested in The Quarry is not knowing what you’re in for, so it would be somewhat detrimental to reveal too much here. But suffice to say, writer-director Will Byles and co-writer Alex Farnham are extremely well-versed in horror tropes, traditions, and fan expectations, and they cover a lot of ground without the need to throw the kitchen sink in as well. Honestly, it speaks volumes that the game’s creative team was able to craft a 10-hour+ horror campaign without it either growing tiresome or becoming overly predictable. (Seriously, someone let Byles and Farnham take a crack at a Friday the 13th TV show.) The game may not reinvent the wheel, but who’s complaining about wheels? They fucking rock, and so does The Quarry. Slight pun intended.
The Main Cast And Dialogue Far Exceed That Of The Average Horror Movie
While many horror projects live or die by the quality of their effects and other aesthetics, a terrible cast delivering terrible lines can ruin anyone’s else’s best efforts. And video games are in no way immune to that concept, which makes The Quarry all the more distinctive, as it boasts a sizable ensemble cast without a single weak link in the bunch. The deep bench of talent only helps to highlight the already smart, funny and engaging script, making the characters’ dialogue and behavior convincingly authentic, even when displaying completely opposite emotions depending on which choices are made. Such authenticity is obviously helped along by the motion-capture techniques used, and outside of sporadic graphic hiccups here and there, the characters often looked as if they were pulled straight from live-action. The core cast of counselors is below:
- Halston Sage (Prodigal Son, The Orville) as the fun-loving influencer Emma
- Ariel Winter (Modern Family, Sofia the First) as the cautious and loyal Abigail
- Justice Smith (Detective Pikachu, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) as the soft-spoken but opinionated Ryan
- Skyler Gisondo (Santa Clarita Diet, The Righteous Gemstones) as the constantly troubled Max
- Siobhan Williams (Sacred Lies, Deadly Class) as Max’s determined and badass girlfriend Laura
- Miles Robbins (Halloween, Daniel Isn’t Real) as the self-deprecating and crush-happy Dylan
- Brenda Song (Ambhibia, Dollface) as the hilarious and logical-minded Kaitlyn
- Zach Tinker (Days of Our Lives, The Young and the Restless) as the horny buff guy with emotions Jacob
- Evan Evagora (Star Trek: Picard, Fantasy Island) as Abigail’s long-haired crush Nick
Not every character stands equal from a quality or likeability perspective — with Laura, Kaitlyn, and Ryan standing out as my personal favorites — but it’s not due to a lack of effort from the actors themselves. Not to repeat myself, but it’s wild how amazing the script-to-performance combination is next to something like a Resident Evil game, and especially compared to truly baffling shit like Deadly Premonition. Even in moments where The Quarry’s branching-narrative format feels its most choppy when going from scene to scene, it never takes long for the characters to pull you right back into suspended disbelief, which absolutely cannot be said for the majority of horror flicks that come out in a given year.
The Quarry Boasts Some Legitimate Horror Icons
Not to dismiss the horror cred earned by any of the stars portraying the counselors, but just about everyone else in The Quarry’s cast is known for starring in at least one iconic horror-tinged movie or TV show, if not multiple. Let’s lay out the rest of the talented ensemble below, though without any character information as not to spoil anything on that front.
- David Arquette (Scream franchise, Bone Tomahawk)
- Lance Henriksen (Aliens, Scream 3)
- Ted Raimi (Evil Dead franchise, The Midnight Meat Train)
- Lin Shaye (Insidious franchise, Critters)
- Ethan Suplee (Santa Clarita Diet, The Hunt)
- Grace Zabriskie (Twin Peaks franchise, Child’s Play 2)
To be expected, none of those Hollywood vets fail to deliver the goods performance-wise. At this point in their respective careers, fans have a general idea of what to expect from each of them, and there are no disappointments across the board. In fact, The Quarry allows Ted Raimi to shine as hard as just about any other project in his career. (After his first appearance, be sure to keep an ear out for a reference to his brother Sam Raimi’s classic Evil Dead films.)
Gore? Twists? Awkward Sexiness? Check!
Hollywood has a history of churning out horror flicks with A-list stars that disappoint more than thrill, but thankfully The Quarry’s stacked squad didn’t pull attention away from making sure the storyline and standout sequences embraced everything that makes horror fun. With a general lack of cellphones and other digital devices, the game feels as if it was taken right out of the 1980s, and it plays into that vibe while also subverting certain stereotypes. Especially when it comes to the sex and sexuality side of things, in regards to featuring more than just cis-gender characters, not to mention a bit of standard-shifting self-commentary on horror’s love of half-naked females.
So while there’s an absence of mo-capped nudity, The Quarry definitely doesn’t skimp on the blood and gore when it counts. One character’s offing in particular literally made me hit pause so I could revel in both the shock of what happened as well as the fabulously gnarly animation depicting the spot where a human’s face once existed. When you consider that everyone who gets introduced in the game could theoretically be killed off in one brutal fashion or another — the story’s twists and turns hint at who is and isn’t worthy of saving — that means more than a dozen potential examples of some of the most gruesome kills in narrative-based gaming. And there’s even a special feature that speaks directly to those whose bloodlust can’t be sated, as noted below.
The Quarry Has A Completely Hands-Off Feature For Non-Gamers
When I was a kid, I distinctly remember setting up Coach Mode in NES’ Tecmo Bowl to mirror whatever applicable NFL games were set for that week, and just watching the computer play itself. It’s weird to think that Supermassive Games’ latest effort represents the current evolution of that tactic, but that’s definitely the case. As a game that already isn’t overwhelmingly interactive in the first place, with only sporadic exploration accompanying the plethora of dialogue and behavior choices, The Quarry knows that might still be too intense for certain people who just want to check out the game for its story merits.
As such, there’s a Movie Mode option that allows for a completely hands-off experience, though players do have the option of choosing preset personality traits for each of the playable characters, as a way of keeping things from being completely random. If even that is too random for those who wish to factor in predetermined fates, there’s an option where all the characters survive, and an option where they all bite the bullet by the end. And yes, there’s even an additional option for the deaths to be the goriest and most grisly versions. It’s the dream!
Beyond everything already discussed, The Quarry also boasts the Horror History Visual Filter Pack add-on, which allows players to play the game with three different aesthetics: the highly saturated colors of Indie Horror, the grainy washed-out VHS look of ‘80s Horror, or completely color-free gameplay with the Black-and-White Classic Horror filter.
Had this been a straightforward video game review, I might have felt the need to talk about some of the game’s wonkier moments involving dialogue hiccups and erratic facial animation. But even then, I wouldn’t be faulting it for too much, since those moments were thankfully minimal among the wider variety of thrills, shocks and A+ performances. All in all, though The Quarry may not be the most perfect release specifically for hardcore gamers, I believe it’s an ideal experience for anyone and everyone who adores horror movies, and double for those who think they should be roughly 700% longer and include some light button-mashing.
2K Games' The Quarry will be available on Friday, June 10, through most major platforms, including Playstation 5 (opens in new tab), Playstation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Steam/other PC options.
Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.
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