The first hour of The Quarry re-captures that Until Dawn “playable horror movie magic”

Left: Until Dawn. Right: The Quarry (Both Images: Supermassive Games)

Left: Until Dawn. Right: The Quarry (Both Images: Supermassive Games)

It wouldn’t be wholly accurate to call the first few hours of The Quarry—the latest playable horror movie from Until Dawn creators Supermassive Games—a world without adults. Mr. H (David Arquette), the camp counselor running a summer camp clearly giving Camp Crystal Lake a run for its blood-stained money in the OSHA violations department, is skulking around its edges. As are mysterious hunters played by Lance Henriksen and Ethan Suplee. Meanwhile, Grace “Sarah Palmer” Zabriskie fills in for Until Dawn’s Peter Stormare and The Dark Pictures Anthology’s Pip Torrens as the game’s new horror host, popping up between segments to give creepy tarot readings that may or may not help players avoid a terrible fate.

That being said: When Supermassive describes The Quarry as “teen horror,” it’s not fucking around: These are some teen-ass teens populating this idyllic little slice of hell. In the single hour of preview gameplay we’ve had with the studio’s latest effort, said teens indulge in a whole host of what the Venture Bros. might term “death-prone” behaviors: Recklessly pointing guns at each other, ignoring warning signs, and pretty much putting a giant “Come and get me, monsters of Hackett’s Quarry!” sign on their collective backs.

It’s kind of perfect, really.

After all, there’s a reason so much horror fiction has focused on these sorts of characters as its go-to victims; where else but in our teenage years does society allow personal freedom, lowered inhibitions, and raging hormones to collide so forcefully? Even so, the nine teens who serve as The Quarry’s main fodder take that principle to the extreme. If they don’t feel authentically human in their various jealous bickerings and petty pawings at each other, they at least feel horror movie authentic. Which is, as always, the point.

Gameplay-wise, Supermassive has clearly chosen not to re-invent the bloody hook in the car door handle here; The Quarry plays pretty much identically to Until Dawn and the Pictures games, tasking you with moving your hormonal pawns around 3D environments, picking up clues, and pressing ever forward to the next big scare. The major play, then, remains either trying to keep as many of the kids alive, through a series of story choices and quick time events, as possible—or orchestrating the most tragic set of horror movie kills, depending on what attitude you bring to these games. (We managed to get through our preview session without anybody popping off, although there were a few dicey moments vis-à-vis high-speed ghoul escapes.)

One welcome throwback to Until Dawn, meanwhile, comes in the form of the game’s acting, a factor that’s so, so key in an interactive movie like this. Until Dawn went way above average in this department (including notable performances from Hayden Panettiere and Rami Malek), while the shorter and cheaper Dark Pictures games that followed it, uh, didn’t. The Quarry moves us back into Dawn territory, happily: Besides the old hands lurking in the woods, Brenda Song, Justice Smith, Zach Tinker, and the rest of the performers imbuing life into the game’s adolescent killer fodder acquit themselves well; they might not end up Oscar winners like Malek, but neither do they embarrass themselves. It’s easy to assume that bad acting is just part of replicating the B-movie vibes Supermassive is surfing on, but genre fans know that good horror requires at least a skosh of empathy for the poor rats trapped in the maze, and The Quarry’s performances hop comfortably over that particular bar.

All that being said, the weirdest thing about previewing The Quarry is playing the game in a vacuum, when it so clearly exists to be spectator sport. Unfortunately, the preview build of the game we got our hands on lacked any of the multiplayer options added to The Quarry in response to Until Dawn’s massive popularity as a stream and co-op game—although we imagine the “Movie Mode” and cooperative modes will work a lot like the similar options in the Dark Pictures games did, albeit on a larger scale. In any case, it’s the sort of game that demands an audience, just like its predecessor, whether because of the irresistible tension of those fast-moving QTEs, the cringe-y teen romance, or just that beautiful communal sense of being in a crowded theater with a bunch of other horror fans, watching the killer creep closer.

All of which is to say that the old Until Dawn magic does appear to be back; we can’t wait to see what other awful stuff happens to these poor teens when the game comes out June 10.

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