Welcome to day 11 of the RPS Advent Calendar! We're going to have a great time: singing songs by the fire, kayaking in the lake, and definitely none of the camp counselors are going to be brutally murdered by monsters!
If you go down to The Quarry today, you're in for a big surprise.
Alice Bee: I was a big fan of Supermassive's original "like a 00s horror movie, but a game!" game Until Dawn, and The Quarry really goes ham in that direction again. A bunch of camp counselors are spending one last night at Hackett's Quarry before the end of the summer, but it turns out they're not alone. There are some weird, blood covered hicks stalking the woods, not to mention some literal clawed monsters. If you want to watch a bunch of teenagers awkardly snogging before they spend 10 hours screaming and losing limbs then hot diggedy daffodil, is this the game for you.
Of course, you are notionally supposed to avoid the limb-losing aspect with your choices: run left or right, pick up this gun or don't, that kind of thing. Your QTE wins and decisions really stack up over the run time. The thing is, a lot of the deaths are such beautifully over-the-top gore-fests that I wasn't even mad. But I particularly enjoyed The Quarry for some of the subtler changes. It plays with teen-horror tropes in fun ways, and sometimes winning a QTE is, in fact, exactly the wrong thing to do. It's a rip-roaring popcorn fest of a good time, but it's smart, too.
Rebecca: I'm still in awe of the fact that The Quarry was kept completely secret until just three months before its release. Supermassive Games are not known for being coy about their upcoming projects; they're known, in fact, for always announcing the next entry in The Dark Pictures Anthology with a trailer embedded in the previous year's game, giving the audience 12 months or more to build up hype. What's more, details around the anthology's development are often prone to leakage. So how on earth did we hear not so much as a peep about them working on an Until Dawn successor starring David Arquette, Ted Raimi, Lin Shaye, and a dozen others of similar profile, right up until the game was practically out?
Every member of The Quarry's 15-strong main cast is either a legend of horror cinema or an up-and-coming bright young thing in Hollywood, and you have to hand it to the casting director who managed to score so many coups. If you've watched TV at all in the past decade, you're going to spend the first couple of chapters exclaiming "hey, it's — !" over and over again.
The Quarry has been rightly praised for its suite of accessibility options, as well as for being welcoming to players unfamiliar with its genre. Supermassive are known for throwing a bunch of Quick Time Events at you, some of them quite punishing; but The Quarry pares that right down. Aside from navigation controls, you only need to hammer maybe two buttons throughout the entire game. For those of us who are well-practised in the art of QTEs by now, succeeding at every single one in The Quarry presents basically no challenge.
However, that isn't to say that playing The Quarry is easy. I'm good at these games, and I still boned up the finale the first time around badly enough that two of my favourite characters suffered extremely anticlimactic deaths. Understanding how your choices in Chapter 5 impact your options in Chapter 10 is the sort of thing that's key to keeping characters alive, and it's that intricate branching narrative design rather than those "Press X To Not Die" moments that keeps me replaying these games time and time again.
But if you want to watch The Quarry like a mini-series and skip the part where you take responsibility for the outcomes, that option is there too. The game includes a movie mode that sets it up to auto-play while you settle in with the popcorn, and the quality of the cast makes it well worth stepping back from the action in order to devote your full attention to the story at least once. It's a goofy '80s throwback creature feature at heart, but everyone gives it their all and seems to be having great fun.