After three smaller-scale horror games in its Dark Pictures Anthology, Supermassive Games' next title is a big one. The Quarry takes a different tack from The Dark Pictures and instead has more in common with Until Dawn, the game that made Supermassive's name in video game horror. In fact, creative director Will Byles says that The Quarry is something of a spiritual successor to Until Dawn, and it looks to be Supermassive's most ambitious game yet.
Where the Dark Pictures games make up an anthology that hits a variety of different kinds of stories, The Quarry is "teen horror" more in line with what players saw in Until Dawn. It focuses on a group of nine counselors hanging out at Hackett's Quarry Summer Camp on the last day of the season. The campers are gone and the obligations are fulfilled, so the teens are left to their own devices and taking the opportunity to party in the woods. That's a fairly classic horror movie setup, made all the more foreboding in the game's announcement trailer by the arrival of the local sheriff, played by David Arquette (Scream), who is very concerned about the counselors leaving the camp as soon as possible.
The game is similar to Supermassive's other games, in which players control characters as they move through the story, jumping between perspectives at specific points. You'll dictate how the story unfolds through dialogue decisions at key moments, which can affect character development and relationships, as well as the unfolding plot. Expect a good share of action, as in Supermassive's past games, which is usually controlled by quick-time events that test your reaction skills and fast thinking. The Quarry features nine playable characters, and any or all of them can die during the course of the story depending on your decisions, actions, and failures.
Byles said the game will likely clock in around seven to 10 hours playtime depending on how many characters survive, but like Until Dawn and the Dark Pictures games, The Quarry will also be highly replayable, with different decisions taking you through a branching story that can unfold in a variety of different ways.
The trailer has few hints about the overall tale The Quarry will tell, but does give the impression of a lot of different possible trajectories. Byles, who also directed Until Dawn, said he drew from a number of horror movie inspirations for the game.
"I'm a really big horror buff--a lot of it is just absorbed. I really like a lot of [director] Sam Raimi's stuff. We've got Ted Raimi in the game, his brother. There's a little of Evil Dead. There's Friday The 13th, as you can see from the summer camp. There's The Hills Have Eyes. There's a lot of the '80s-style horrors, and we've definitely mixed up the eras, so whilst it's set in the modern era, it's styled around the '80s. And then there's even more retro stuff that goes on with the locals [who live near Hackett's Quarry], which are set around the '50s."
The mashup of horror styles and inspirations creates a sort of horror theme park, Byles said.
"Horror Land is how we like to think of it, where phones don't work, and where the horror tropes really work out," he explained. "You could probably mention almost every horror you can think of, and I'll go, 'Oh, there's a little bit of that in there.' It's my life in horror films put onto it."
The Quarry's inspirations are indicative of the game's ambitious scope, which is also reflected in its casting. It includes a long list of horror movie mainstays, kicking off with Arquette and including Lance Henriksen (Aliens, Pumpkinhead), Lin Shaye (Insidious, Nightmare on Elm Street), Grace Zabriskie (The Grudge, Twin Peaks), and Ted Raimi (The Grudge, Drag Me To Hell). But there are also quite a few actors with comedy chops involved, as well--including Justice Smith (Detective Pikachu, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom), Ariel Winter (Modern Family), and Skyler Gisondo (The Righteous Gemstones, Santa Clarita Diet).
"The style, like I say, is most similar to Until Dawn," Byles said. "It's very, that postmodern self-referential, not-taking-itself-too-seriously thing. You could see from [the trailer] as well that there's a degree of lightness to it. And with these horror-classic actors as well. Lin Shaye, Grace Zabriskie, David Arquette, obviously, Ted Raimi. All these guys, they're horror classics, and we really wanted to try and capture that and get that across as just part of the gravitas of the game that we wanted to make."
Byles said the game is also a step forward technologically for the studio. The Quarry features full performance capture for all its actors, and Supermassive teamed with Los Angeles special effects company Digital Domain, whose efforts include working on Thanos in Avengers: Endgame, to enhance the in-game performances. Supermassive's technical approach has evolved through the course of its games pretty clearly, but according to Byles, it's pushing the envelope here to capture more nuance and subtlety in its performances.
The Quarry is also set to further expand Supermassive's multiplayer approach to its interactive movie-style games. Byles said that Until Dawn revealed a huge audience for the game through streaming--while there are a lot of players who like Supermassive's games for uncovering the story and the challenge of survival, there's also a big audience of people who enjoy them as experiences they watch, rather than play, or participate in on a less-intensive level.
With The Dark Pictures, Supermassive expanded multiplayer offerings for its games with a "movie night" mode that allows for a group of people to play the game together, passing a controller back and forth to take the helm on different characters. With Hidden Agenda, a game that was more police procedural than horror, Supermassive added the ability for a group of people to vote on key decisions and to interact with the game through a smartphone app. The Quarry expands on those capabilities even further, Byles said.
"What we found with Until Dawn is people seem to want to play it much more in a group, even just sofa play, just on the couch," Byles said. "So we've set that up in a way that makes that much more easy to set up. We just hand the controller over. We've also done a thing with accessibility where it means that, if you are a gamer, you can just set it up as normal. But if you are playing with your grandparents or somebody who's not a gamer, you can just switch off the [quick-time events] for them, or the button-mashers, or whatever it is that they might not be as comfortable with. And they could play at that level in the same game, just a different profile."
The Quarry supports up to seven players with online co-op as well as its couch co-op offerings, and those also have some nuance. Byles said that if you own the game, you can host online play sessions with others who only have The Quarry's demo version, allowing them to watch the story as you play it and vote on choices along the way. There's also a movie-only version, where you can set a variety of parameters, like character personality traits, and then just watch the story play out--alone, or with friends. But, Byles noted, if you feel like jumping back into the interactive version of the game, you can stop the movie at any point and take control.
Byles said that the difference between The Dark Pictures and The Quarry is in this focus on approachability and the ability to watch as well as play. The Dark Pictures series is perhaps more focused on gameplay, with the studio including a lot of elements that encourage uncovering clues about how the story can unfold and encouraging replayability with its "butterfly effect" system, which shows the way decisions compound to lead through the plot. The Quarry is a different approach, but it'll still include a lot of those same gameplay features for people who like Supermassive's games from a player perspective, rather than a movie-viewer perspective. For instance, the game tracks the pathways you take for specific characters, allowing you to see how your decisions created their specific path toward a particular ending.
"We still have the gameplay elements in there, but we're not pushing those as far as perhaps The Dark Pictures are," he said. "This is much more to try to get an accessible audience as well as gamers. It's a push towards it being a storytelling medium. That's the key to this. And it's really about character development, because it's a longer format. It's much more about developing characters, developing relationships inside a world of horror."
The Quarry is set to launch on June 10 on PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC.
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