Even years after my last unalloyed school break, as soon as June hits, everything seems to go slower, softer. Daytime stretches into late, mirthful sunsets like it did when I was a kid at camp. But I’ve realized that these hot months no longer mark that idyllic time in childhood when it’s okay to let my guard down. Mosquitoes hover over their lazy targets until they land for one long, bloody drink. No one is coming to smack them away and protect you, especially not in the interactive drama horror The QuarrySupermassive Games’ new summertime successor to Until Dawn.
The Quarry has you play from the alternating point-of-view of nine camp counselors as they’re pushed into a long night of danger, gore, and paranoia on their last night at Hackett’s Quarry Summer Camp. Standard teen stuff, really, but with deadly stakes.
Players must guide the characters to safety (or not) by completing quick-time events and making split-decisions, avoiding or giving into ideas that the game’s adults and real-life horror icons, including Travis Hackett (The Evil Dead‘s Ted Raimi), Chris Hackett (Scream‘s David Arquette), and fortune-teller Eliza (Twin Peaks‘Grace Zabriskie), zap into their heads.
It’s a lot for a normal kid at camp to handle, especially when you’re already dealing with more pressing things, like wondering if your camp’s patent misunderstood dream boy likes you back. But you shouldn’t suffer alone, so I’ve whipped up these 10 tips to inform your first playthrough of The Quarry in a kind of meta act of counselor guidance. Get a cold compress for your bug bites.
Play your own way
Playing The Quarry with no modifications involves 10 hours of story and choose-your-own adventure pathways that determine which of the 186 endings (!) you’ll receive. The rest of this guide assumes that you’re playing the standard single-player mode, but if you’d prefer not to play alone or under too much stress, the horror game offers some options.
It is streamer-friendly with a “streamer mode” that eliminates any instances of Ariana Grande and other copyrighted music, so you’re safe to play with bloodthirsty Twitch audience eyes glued to your screen. If you prefer only your eyes to be glued to your screen, you can also enable the game’s movie mode that converts The Quarry into a 10-hour monster mash.
Movie mode has its own set of options — you can choose between an ending where everyone lives, an ending where everyone dies, a “gore fest,” or click on Director’s Chair to tailor each counselor’s personality to your preferred qualities. This will affect the choices they make in the movie, to their success or detriment. Sit back and relax as your personalized characters die slow deaths.
But if you and a friend would like to personally deliver the counselors to their slow deaths, you can take advantage of The Quarry‘s couch co-op. Choosing this game option allows groups to assign a counselor to each player and pass the controller when the game switches to that counselor’s POV, something that could help each character transform into a true individual, not a simple byproduct of your clumsy quick-time responses.
Prepare for it to get dark
Literally. I played this game entirely next to a large, curtain-free window.
Opening the window and letting in the balmy summer breeze made for a good 4D gaming experience, but you should be aware that The Quarry has a lot of pitch-black environments. The glare from my window, though certainly cutting-edge and 4D, made walking and finding pertinent clues unreasonably difficult. Keep this in mind if you’re playing on a device with finicky brightness or are in a light room.
Stop and touch the bloodstains
Occasionally being unable to see my surroundings was frustrating because 90% of The Quarry‘s actual gameplay is clomping around and picking things up.
The game encourages you with achievements to find things, as many things as you can. Throughout the game, in whatever room or wretched state your body’s in, you’ll be looking for clues that explain the grisly carnival fire that hit Hackett’s Quarry a few years back, the ghost that stalks the winding woods, and the grim history of the Hackett family and their decades-old summer camp.
You’ll also be searching for evidence of the quick, growling monsters that keep slashing apart your friends so the police don’t wonder why everyone’s dead except you. You might collect it yourself by snapping photos on your characters’ cell phones, or find it crumpled and hidden away somewhere in the dangerous campgrounds. If you rush through the seemingly-empty environments, you could miss out on clues that help you and your counselors piece together their suddenly bizarro night. Take your time, explore every corner, and if you’re prompted to keep looking or move on, it’s probably a good idea to keep looking. Just make sure you’re exploring new corners—The Quarry quickly turns into a walking simulator if you’re not.
On that note — understand the art of the quick-time event
As a walking simulator, though smeared with crushed guts and strewn brains, The Quarry can be slow at times. When you’re not walking, you’re watching an extended cut scene, and it’s easy to get lost in what you’re seeing and forget that you’re actually a part of it.
I found it helpful to keep both my hands in an active position on the controller. That way, when a quick-time event suddenly popped up and meant literal life or death for my favorite counselor, I was ready to act and save them.
Every second counts
In addition to quick-time events, which usually involve fast physical actions like jumping over a snag, dodging a grab, or grabbing something yourself, The Quarry also requires you to make sudden reactionary and emotional judgments.
These were hard for me, because I’m a big baby and wanted to keep all my counselors alive, happy, and in love, if possible. But the game prompts you: Want to shoot your friend? Press A. Should you kiss your love interest in the creepy misty woods or let the moment pass? Up to you.
A quickly draining bar tells you how much time you have left to make your choices, but if you don’t act, you could get hurt. There was one instance where picking between running and hiding proved too much for my delicate heart and I faltered, leading to my counselor’s capture. Boohoo, but it’s a cautionary tale. You never have to follow a reaction prompt, and you shouldn’t pressure yourself into immediately making choices you aren’t sure about. But at least make a choice.
The game lets you monitor them, too. The bigger emotional decisions that significantly impact one or more characters will be tracked in the “paths” category of your in-game menu. When you make a decision that begins or changes the path, the game will flash “path chosen” or “path updated,” respectively. When you see this, go into the paths menu and check out which path has an exclamation mark. Clicking on it reveals more information about the storyline you’ve started, the decisions you’ve made to continue it, and gives you a rough idea of where it’s going.
When you choose between dialogue options, the game will also explicitly tell you how other characters are feeling about what you said, like if they don’t trust you, or if they’re feeling supported by you. These indicators should also help you decide if you like where your story is heading, or if it’s time to switch course.
Shut the fuck up…
Every once in a while, you should just shut the fuck up, particularly when an enemy is about to tear into your hidey-hole and rip your throat open.
Staying undetected in The Quarry will trigger a “hold your breath” mechanic, and you’ll have to hold down on a button to keep quiet until the danger passes. This is again indicated by a draining colored bar, as well as a red haze on the screen and the loud sound of your counselor’s heartbeat.
Once the haze and the sound subside, you can release the button and let your counselor breathe. It might seem safer to wait until the colored bar timer is completely drained, but by this point, your counselor will run out of breath and will let out a huge sigh, letting their assailant find them easily. I learned this the unfortunate way.
… But only if you want to
Alternatively, breathe as loudly as you want. There are 186 endings, and yours can be as macabre as you desire. If you want to kill a character off or simply see where a “wrong” decision takes you, do it, you sicko.
Look into the future
A more mystical element of The Quarry involving finding all 22 cards in the Major Arcana, the trump cards of a tarot deck that deal with broad themes and changes. This is another good reason to thoroughly search a room before moving on to your next task.
Finding tarot cards will let you put something down on the table when you have a meeting with the inscrutable fortune-teller Eliza, which happens at the end of all of The Quarry‘s ten chapters.
Eliza will read the cards for you and ask if you’d like to see one of the futures they predict in her crystal ball. Agreeing to this will let you briefly witness a possible outcome of an emotional decision you’ll be faced with in the next chapter, another useful way to check if your story is chugging along the way you’d hoped.
Revisit the past
If you’ve made a mistake and are unhappy with what you see, players with the Deluxe Edition of The Quarry can take advantage of the useful Death Rewind feature on their first playthrough. If you don’t have the Deluxe Edition, you’ll be able to access this feature on subsequent playthroughs.
Death Rewind gives you three chances to reverse death. It’s available anytime a counselor dies, so long as you still have at least one of your three chances left. Agreeing to use one of your chances on a counselor will reverse your progress and take you back to the point in the game where you made a deadly decision. Sometimes, that decision was made a few chapters back — if this is the case, the game will warn you that trying to save that counselor will substantially reverse your progress.
Using Death Rewind is no guarantee that your counselor will not die again. I played chapter nine twice and still managed to commit mass murder.
Roll the credits
The morning always comes, even after an endless summer night. No matter which ending you received, stick around through the credits for a brief epilogue and to unlock the Epilogue achievement. Consider it your gold star for good work. Or gruesome work, whatever.
With your stars and these 10 tips, you’re ready to head into the thick of it. You might be a long way from roasting sticky marshmallows around a crackling fire pit, but can’t slaying your demons be just as satisfying?