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The Quarry is giving 80s slasher screams to 2022 teens

If you go down to the woods today, you're in for a Supermassive jump scare

When I saw the new Scream film earlier this year, the audience was a mix of zoomers sitting at the back giggling at how rubbish it was, and people my age and older fighting the urge to go, "No, see, it's actually really cool and good how they say what the plot is and then that actually is the plot!" There were just too many layers to peel off the metafictional onion for a generation who didn't love the original Scream from 1996. Heck, Scream 5 even opens with a joke about how kids today only like 'prestige' horror like The Babadook.

I'm convinced that there's a middle ground, where you can have a slasher horror that loves the tropes and knows how to work them, but still feels smart and fresh in 2022. And, preferably, stars pro-wrestler and part-time actor David Arquette. This week I played some of The Quarry.

Supermassive Games' interactive survival horror Until Dawn came close in 2015, though the latter half became a little too earnest and frantic for my money. It also did not star David Arquette. The studio's more recent Dark Pictures Anthology, on the other hand, took itself a bit too seriously. The Quarry is Supermassive's latest effort, and based on a recent hands on preview of its second chapter, it feels like the studio is taking another swing at their Until Dawn-style of slasher horror and starting afresh. Set in a summer camp at the end of the season, a group of young camp counsellors have to unexpectedly spend one more night there, and navigate their own complex interpersonal dramas while also possibly getting murdered. Also, it stars David Arquette (although sadly did not make an appearance in my hour-long preview build).

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Since I only got to play one chapter of the game (which ends just after the teens start to separated and attacked), I was dropped in the middle of things, but yoinked out before it got properly juicy. If you've played Until Dawn or any of The Dark Pictures you'll know the basics of how it works: it's a lot of cutscenes where you can choose what response a character makes in conversation, mixed with segments where you walk around an area finding clues and completing the next story objective. Sometimes, there is a QTE to avoid a hazard while you're running somewhere.

Control switches between different members of the group frequently, which means you can actually decide that the character you don't like totally deserves to die, and railroad them towards a horrible end. But the game has a few tricks of its own for you, too. Finding certain clues as one counsellor might allow them to put things together with someone else later, for example, and it looks like certain decisions could have wider ramifications than some of Supermassive's previous game. "Do you help your wounded friend or make a break for it?" is an obvious example, but, "Do you say something mean to this guy right at the start?" is less so. After all, this is as much about the teen drama as actual horror here, and I get the feeling that both will be equally important things to consider as the story goes on. The QTEs also seem easier and more generous, too, which is no bad thing.

Kaitlyn, one of the player characters in The Quarry, uses her phone to take a photo of the camp lake at sunset
The Quarry has black bars at the top and bottom of the screen, too, so it's like you're watching a movie in widescreen.

If the decisions you make are the game's dry skeleton, its characters and story are the sticky musculature and blood network that make up the rest of it. In The Quarry's second chapter, I played a game of truth or dare, shot bottles and melons in a competition (I'm sure that gun won't be important later, amirite?), looked for towels for a midnight swim, and was spooked in a forest by (in sequence), a possbile ghost, a something, and a big meaty man in dungarees. I must admit, the core gang of nine were a little hard for me to keep track of, since I hadn't been properly introduced, but they hit all the key beats. There's the responsible girl taking things seriously, the hot preppy bitch, the jock making dick jokes, the shy guy and his even more shy alt-girl love interest, and so on.

The vibe in The Quarry is incredibly 80s slasher, not just because it's set at a summer camp and counsellors are getting all hot and bothered over one another, but also in the way things are shot and teased. Early scene transitions are eased with non-diegetic pop and rock music. Sometimes it even lulled me into a false sense of security, because the pop music is what plays when people are safe, right? It's established that someone's lurking around in the ol' lookout, so you keep thinking when someone eventually goes up there they're going to get absolutely mullered. As Emma the hot girl and Jacob the jock (her summer fling, natch) go swimming, the camera pans down to show a very macabre [redacted] in the lake, so then you spend the next ten minutes wondering which one of them is about to get pulled down, oh god oh man.

A large menacing man holding a rifle and wearing dungaree overalls (hanging off one shoulder) stands by the campfire in The Quarry

That's most of the slasher part nailed, then - although I didn't see very much slashing, and what I did see is probably such a massive spoiler that I wouldn't want to give away so early. I will say, though, that our unfortunate Scooby gang are not only going to be running around an empty summer camp with some kind of supernatural monster hunting them, but also some weirdo human creeps as well. Put a gun - or, big slavering jaws - to my head, I might guess it will run similar-ish to Until Dawn in some ways.

But despite its obvious 80s feel, this group of Supermassive victims does seem a little more modern than before. I still saw and enjoyed the tropes, especially the ones that were a bit flipped. For example, during truth or dare Emma snogged the face off nice guy Nick to make Jacob jealous and upset Nick's shy-girl love interest Abigail. Abigail and Jacob both stormed off away from the group, but it was Abigail who was angry, muttering to herself as she got lost, and Jacob who sat crying by the dock. That's kind of interesting, is it not? Still, an hour is a comparatively short section of the game, and I didn't really get to see any of the actors, or even the monsters, flex their wings. But while I didn't get to slice into the real meat of The Quarry, this preview definitely whet the old appetite.

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The Quarry

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Alice Bell avatar

Alice Bell

Deputy Editor

Small person powered by tea and books; RPS's dep ed since 2018. Send her etymological facts and cool horror or puzzle games.