“I saw a lot of horrors. I mean, a plot horror,” says The Quarry’s creative director, Will Byles. “Probably way too many, and I’ve done it since I was a kid. My sister used to make me watch horror movies with her [laughs].”
The Quarry is the latest big-budget horror game from Supermassive Games, the team behind the Until Dawn anthology and The Dark Pictures, two games that have found massive audiences, but The Quarry is the developer’s best work yet. day.
Not only does the game look brilliant, capturing the fantastic performances of its Hollywood cast, but it makes your choices in the story feel like they have real impact, the decisions you make at the start of the game extending at the end of the game. A ton of effort has clearly gone into making The Quarry the best game it can be.
Speaking with Byles, it’s clear that The Quarry was born out of the team’s deep love for all things horror. The Quarry may not be the scariest horror game, but it’s one of the most ambitious and creative I’ve played in years.
A passion for horror
“So basically it’s a playable teen horror,” Byles says, giving me The Quarry’s elevator pitch. “It’s traditional teen horror, actually pretty archetypal or cliched teen horror. Anyone can live, anyone can die, as you play them throughout the game. If you die, you stay dead.You don’t get better.
The double meaning of the title also indicates what you are getting into. “The quarry itself is a place called Hackett’s Quarry,” he states, “and it’s a really evocative place to create horror. Quarry also means ‘the hunted’ or what’s hunted is the prey, so once the game starts you realize they are the prey too.
A darker picture
Supermassive Games may be best known for Until Dawn, but it’s also behind The Dark Pictures anthology – unique stories exploring different horror subgenres.
Oddly enough, these dives into different avenues of horror impacted the development of The Quarry in more technical ways than you might think. “We’ve been making The Dark Pictures for a number of years since Until Dawn,” says Byles, “And with Until Dawn, we had to write in Excel sheets because there was no software to do that.
“Above [course of] The Dark Pictures, we have developed a very good storytelling design system. We always write a script in Final Draft first, but then break it down into a playable storyboard mode with software we’ve developed over the years. We have gained a lot from [The Dark Pictures].”
The power of friendship
Almost as far back as early slasher movies, teenagers have been cast in the role of the hunt. Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Black Christmas, and Halloween all see young people being hunted down and murdered by a cold, adult figure. There’s something about this more childish, not-yet-adult scene that makes teenagers a great lens for exploring larger themes, in the case of The Quarry, Supermassive wanted a story that dives into testing friendships.
The Quarry “is really scary,” says Byles, “but there is also a degree of levity to it. More than anything, it’s about relationships. It’s about how these things work under pressure.
Byles is excited to examine how we play roles with our friends and what’s behind it all. “There’s a thing where people start out with this kind of facade of the thing they’re portraying and they recoil outward,” says Byles.
“It’s the character they give, but if you start hitting it, with fear, danger, injury and potentially death, all those [acts] start falling and then a real person comes out. So I really wanted to see what’s real in people as much as possible.
This stripping of personality has happened before in stories, but it presents a particular challenge in a game. “When it’s an interactive story, we have to give you a choice in how you behave in those situations and what you would say in response to those things,” says Byles, which means you choose, to some extent, who a character is under their persona. “So really, that’s what it’s about. It’s about honest relationships.
It is in the demonstration of these slippery facades that the cast of The Quarry shines. As Byles hints, each of the main characters in The Quarry seem shallow upon first introduction, as if putting on a facade.
Jacob, for example, begins as the archetypal sportsman. Confident, optimistic and a bit rude. As the threats escalate, Jacob is actually shown to be quite emotionally intelligent and clearly cares about the friends he surrounds himself with.
“I’m always amazed at how adorable they are,” Byles says, talking about working with the likes of David Arquette, Brenda Song, Lance Henriksen and Justice Smith. “You hear stories about actors who are prima donnas but they were just super adorable.”
A sign that games like Until Dawn and The Dark Pictures anthology are finding large audiences, a number of actors have come to Supermassive, not the other way around. “A bunch of them were actually asking to be in the games, and they’re obsessed,” Byles reveals. “Miles Robbins, who plays Dylan, is absolutely obsessed with Until Dawn. Siobhan Williams, who plays Laura, says everyone in that kind of age bracket really gets it, because they’ve seen stuff like that and they play stuff like that, and they’re a part of it.
“Zach Tinker plays Jacob. It’s a bit of a “shower” character. The sporty one. He was so energetic, super energetic, and he wanted to do all his stunts on his own. And so we let him!
“There was a time when he was chased by a monster and he ran and skidded and [he] fell to the floor. Anyway, he left a bit quietly and it turned out that he literally broke his thumb. But, bless him, he just kept going.
The teenage counselors are only part of The Quarry’s cast, of course. A number of older veteran actors also lent their likeness and voice to the game. “So Lance Henriksen, there’s Lin Shaye, Ted Raimi…David Arquette. There was a degree of bewilderment as they walked up to the set looking for the location of the camera. It’s like, ‘what are those little dots on you?’ They had to have these helmets and the 3D camera capturing face stuff. This all took a bit of getting used to, I think. But in the end, they succeeded. »
As is the case with many AAA games released over the past couple of years, the development of The Quarry has certainly not been without its challenges. “The hardest thing I think was really Covid. It was really hard to come out in America,” says Byles. “We had to do a lot of work with the American embassy to get out because nobody from Europe was allowed to come into America.
“The Screen Actors Guild of America is very strict about [this], and it was all pre-vaccine. So everyone was tested every day. I had to wear three masks on set. I had to wear a cloth mask, an N95 mask and a visor whenever I approached an actor. So I couldn’t breathe [laughs].”
Despite the difficulties, The Quarry has proven to be a more than worthwhile experience for horror fans. While certainly a spiritual successor to Until Dawn, the Supermassive Games team were able to surpass their previous work to deliver a truly ambitious horror experience that I personally won’t soon forget.