Horror takes a back seat to horny teen drama in the early chapters of Supermassive’s latest nightmare

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Supermassive Games has carved out a comfy niche for itself by putting groups of attractive people in perilous situations where they’re forced to flee monsters and, occasionally, confront personal demons. In The Quarry, it’s a group of teens—played by 20-somethings, naturally—stranded at a summer camp. They want to party and make out, but creepy locals and at least one monster have other ideas.  

The Quarry is not connected to Supermassive’s ongoing Dark Pictures Anthology, instead being more of a follow-up to the PS-exclusive Until Dawn, but with some of the improvements and additional features, like multiple co-op modes, introduced in the more recent games. If you’re not familiar with either, here’s the skinny: you control a group of horror victims as they work together to survive, developing their relationships in cinematic dialogue sequences, getting into scrapes in action set pieces full of QTEs and occasionally doing some light adventure game investigations. They are, essentially, choice-laden interactive horror flicks. 

(Image credit: 2K Games)

It’s another classic horror setup this time around, just like Until Dawn’s spooky cabin and Man of Medan’s ghost ship. This does put it on the edge of triteness, but Supermassive tends to earnestly celebrate horror tropes—and sometimes subverts them—in a way that neutralises some of the overfamiliarity. It has fun with them. And that means normally I welcome them, but after only an hour of The Quarry, I may have already hit my limit. 

I do not care for these teens. The douchebag with the backwards baseball cap. The mean girl. The smart one from Modern Family. They are human-shaped explosions of hormones and watching them play an awkward game of Truth or Dare around the firepit was so torturous that I want to take it to the Hague. 

Every Supermassive game has characters that I just can’t stand, but I usually have a good time hating them. They suck on purpose, because every gang of unfortunate monster victims needs a total dickhead. The Quarry’s cast are simply a bit boring, and every single scene seems to be an excuse for them to talk about their crushes or act like lovesick puppies. It’s exhausting. 

(Image credit: 2K Games)

The horror has a hard time making space for itself with all this teen drama. For most of the section I had access to, which covers the second and third chapters, it exists only on the peripheries. A light on in a building that should be empty. Weirdos spying on the kids. Monstrous silhouettes in the distance. When the monster does reveal itself, interrupting a kiss (of course), it’s quick and violent. The monster is a sinewy, wretched-looking creature, but preternaturally fast and strong. There’s a brief chase, some QTEs, and just as things are getting intense it’s back to teens being horny again. 

Weird priorities

We’ve got a kid who’s just been mauled, another one fleeing a monster, but instead of sticking with them we end up pivoting to Backwards Baseball Cap Douchebag crying on a dock and skimming stones while terrible acoustic music plays, just in case it’s not clear that this boy is very sad—at least until his ex comes along and suggests a late-night swim. He does make himself useful, though, by bumping into a drowned corpse that, along with another object he discovers floating in the water, counts as evidence. As well as building a picture of just what the heck is going on in this summer camp, it looks like evidence will be important for The Quarry’s conclusion, proving to the cops the survivors aren’t responsible for what went down during the night of terror.

Following the corpse discovery, we are dragged back to the firepit where, despite half of the group wandering off, the game of Truth or Dare continues—though it’s thankfully interrupted by the screams of Modern Family girl. Then it’s time to save the mauled dude, which mostly involves trying not to fall over as you run through the woods. This scene is made a lot more entertaining if you purposefully fail the QTEs, sending the group’s Nice Guy falling into rivers, tripping over steps and generally making a fool out of himself. Good times.

(Image credit: 2K Games)

As a fan of schlocky horror and Supermassive’s oeuvre, I was desperate to find something I did like, but it was hard. The discovery of some tasty snacks does prompt a literal song and dance that I found stupidly charming, at least. And it’s undoubtedly a striking game. The mocap and animation are some of the best out there, too. It really is like playing a horror flick—just not a good one, so far.

Even when I was simply walking around things felt off, like the jarring transitions between shots. You’ll be following a character from behind one second, and then you’ll suddenly be looking at a completely different shot from a different angle, ostensibly so the game can show you something important, and every time I got whiplash. In a game where you don’t have a fixed camera, it just doesn’t seem necessary. This was a problem in The Dark Pictures Anthology, too, but one that got better over time, to the point where I don’t remember it being an issue at all in the last one, House of Ashes. Hopefully there’s still time to improve The Quarry’s, but with the launch imminent, Supermassive is cutting it close. 

Here’s the thing: Supermassive’s preview builds are rarely very good. The studio’s fear of spoilers and the nature of horror’s pacing mean that just playing a single section is never going to show the game at its best. I was not into House of Ashes at all until I started playing the review version, when it became one of my faves. But since The Quarry is the largest game of the bunch, estimated to be a 10-hour deal, it takes longer to get going and gives us so many more opportunities to get tired of these teens.

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