Looks good, and the choices feel organic, but it's still shallow

User Rating: 7 | The Quarry PC

Supermassive games are well known for the interesting worlds they create, albeit how small and linear they are, and their knack for telling decent horror stories. Until Dawn is still considered one of the best PS4 games to date, and it was a fantastic game. Mostly in terms of the lore and story behind the characters. The pacing was also pretty great. Supermassive went on to create the episodic The Dark Pictures Anthology game which is mediocre at best. The Quarry is the first stand-alone title they have made since Until Dawn and their experience from The Dark Pictures carries over.

If you are familiar with any of their work you will know what to pretty much expect. The game starts out fairly slow paced introducing the choice and QTE gameplay to you in a safe manner that won't affect the story. You start out as two characters who are on their way to a kid's camp in some nondescript woods to be counselors. You run into something on the road, get run off, and you need to figure out what to do from there. The dark and brooding atmosphere kicks in right away and the game is better paced than some of their previous works. Once the beginning chapter is out of the way you get introduced to all of the other characters and the first few chapters build up to the horror and get you attached to these characters via personality cliches and quirks. Sadly, Supermassive relies heavily on character traits and stereotypes to get you attached to their characters. Their games are more about the here and now and there's little lore or character background like other adventure games.

This has always been a fault of their games that I don't like. While the characters are more likable than in previous games and they have better and stronger personalities, I still don't care for them after the game is over. I don't think about them or care to go back and find out other outcomes. You have the jock type, the strong female, the silly female, the meek female, the silly small dude, etc. They are just all stereotypes and relying on this makes all of their games feel like B-grade horror movies with slightly better acting. I understand that's sometimes the charm, and almost done on purpose in this case, but I would like to see the studio's experience put to more than just cookie-cutter horror movies you watch on cable TV at 2AM and forget about it the next morning.

With that said, there still is almost zero gameplay here. Your main goal is to focus on choices. You get dialog choices, always in two, that can shift your attitude towards a character one way or another and it's your job to observe them and figure out how they will react based on how they are dealing with things in the world. During "action sequence" you get really easy QTE button prompts and failing these will either end in a game over that kills a character or a second chance to try again. You can press the left analog stick in a certain direction or mash a face button. Adventure game gameplay these days is so bad I honestly wish the puzzles would make a comeback. There are some small changes to the typical Supermassive gameplay with choice actions. A prompt will pop up asking you if you want to call out, stop someone, raise a weapon, or something along these lines. These are important and can change the whole outcome of the game. It's a rule of thumb to either hide and hold your breath or run and don't mess up the prompts, but sometimes you can stray off the path and these usually have dual outcomes. Something good and bad happens at the same time.

When you do rarely get control of a character you wander around looking for things to look at and tarot cards. These cards are similar to the photos in The Dark Pictures Anthology and can show you a predicted outcome. You only get to choose a single tarot card you found per chapter rather than seeing every outcome as you discover them. I honestly didn't feel these were necessary and all but one of my party survived by the end of the game. I think I did pretty well. Walking around the linear areas is an excuse to add "gameplay" and pad things out. There is even a movie mode that lets you just watch the game as a movie so there's that. I will admit that the choices here felt heavier and more important than in previous games. I really had to think and sometimes I really couldn't predict or know what my choices did. A lot of them were based on pure instinct. So at least their path engine is getting better.

Of course, Supermassive is also known for its hyperrealistic animations and visuals. Sure, they are fantastic. So good that some of the facial animations just don't look human or feel awkward. They still have that "video game trying to be super real" feeling to them. Their Unreal Engine is still poorly optimized and with a high-end PC, I still dipped under 60FPS at 1440p. To be honest, Supermassive also just can't get a lot of what most other adventure games get right. Any time they try to be "touchy-feely and deep" it comes off as corny and cheesy. It's not to the levels of say Life is Strange that can really dig deep and make you believe that these characters are human and feel pain and misery.

Overall, The Quarry is a nice departure from their mainline mini-series, but it still suffers from the same issues. A poorly optimized engine, awkward facial animations, corny dialog, and forgettable characters and story. This is a typical "2AM B-grade made for cable TV" horror story and nothing more or less. By the time the credits rolled about 9 hours in I shrugged and just moved on to the next game. The acting is much better than in their previous games, and their choice engine feels more organic and relies more on instinct which is great, but there is pretty much zero gameplay. This is fun to play on Halloween night, with a friend with the lights off, or just to pass an evening with some decent entertainment. Don't expect to talk about it with your friends the next day, however.