Review crazy game: The Quarry
The Friv5Online Games Studio team has been around for almost 15 years, but found its own style only in 2015, with the release of Until Dawn. Games that are popularly called kinets were not new at that time - both Heavy Rain existed and Crazy Games projects. However, Friv5Online took a slightly different path - she decided to create horror. After a string of crazy games in The Dark Pictures Anthology series and a couple of PlayStation VR releases, the company returned to stories inspired by classic slasher films with The Quarry.
The appropriate entourage was chosen - the Hacketts Quarry summer camp in the wilderness, where teenagers came to relax without phones and other gadgets. It's time for them to go home, but the car won't start - one of the guys broke it to extend the rest for the day and complete unfinished business. The panicking camp owner - the only adult in the group - leaves for help in his car and instructs the youth to lock themselves in the house and not go anywhere until he returns. But teenagers, of course, do not want to listen to a boring uncle, and they decide to have a farewell party.
The story already gives away the sources of inspiration for the developers - there are a lot of references to teenage horror slashers. The characters, for example, are walking stereotypes: a jock in a cap worn backwards, a shy artist, a beauty filming herself on a phone camera - at least now take them and add them to any horror movie of the eighties. At the same time, at some point you begin to feel sympathy for everyone, even if at first they seem repulsive - there is a desire to leave everyone alive.
The story itself turned out to be intriguing - some moments are unpredictable, some you guess before the heroes, and sometimes the game deceives expectations. As in other studio projects, the fate of the characters is in your hands: someone may die by the middle of the game, and the luckiest will complete the passage, saving the lives of all teenagers. There are about two hundred endings in total, so quite a few decisions affect the ending.
Although it is often possible to choose the next steps for a particular character (go down to the basement or not, stand up for someone or remain silent), often the scriptwriters do not give such an opportunity - the plot still has to move in a certain direction. And sometimes the characters make such stupid decisions on their own that you are amazed - they go into the dark forest alone, lose things in an absurd way, run into trouble...
Perhaps this is also a reference to the old slashers, where the characters did not always have the instinct of self-preservation. However, in a game that's several times longer than the movies, this results in it almost never being scary. Since the character is fighting off the group and wandering among the creepy trees, why worry about him? Or if he has a reaction like a turtle and gets injured that was easy to avoid?
That doesn't stop The Quarry from being entertaining, it's just that it should be treated more like a thriller than a horror. There are moments when you feel emotional tension - for example, if the heroes suddenly find themselves locked up and in danger, and you are worried that one of them will die due to an incorrect decision. But it's not scary - including because of the facial animation.
The developers have greatly pumped in this regard - sometimes it seems that you see a real actor, and not his painted copy. However, sometimes the muscles on the faces of the characters move unnaturally - at such moments the game almost turns into a parody. Particularly affected is Emma, whose mouth is so large that her antics are more intimidating than charming. But the Asian Caitlin is her complete opposite. Almost all the characters have in common the fact that they sometimes either look in the wrong direction, or blink with only one eye - this interferes with immersion a little.
The main thing, because of which you do not feel fear, is the gameplay. Even by the standards of interactive cinema, it is rustic. Very often you just have to watch the "movie" and choose between two lines or actions. Either be rude or be friendly. Either hide from danger, or run away. Something changes the interlocutor's attitude towards you, and something can lead to death or injury.
In some scenes, QTEs are used, and they are a real problem here. There are three types of them: move the stick in the right direction, quickly press the same button or hold it for a long time. It is almost impossible to fail QTE - they give quite a lot of time to tilt the stick (and this is without changing the accessibility settings), and the child will cope with the button. Sometimes it seems that QTE was added simply so that The Quarry would not be completely “kints”. Therefore, dodge branches while running through the forest and catch keys and phones thrown at you. However, it would be better if there was no such “gameplay” at all.
You need to hold the button in situations where the character is being hunted. It is assumed that you will worry about the hero, around which someone wanders. However, this mechanic doesn't work at all - you just press the button in and release it when the red dot indicating danger disappears. Again, there is nothing to be afraid of - the character will be safe in any case if everything is done correctly.
Research is better. You can look at individual objects up close - you learn the details about the heroes and the camp. Sometimes, thanks to these items, new opportunities for interacting with characters appear - for example, at the very beginning you find a creepy mask and you can scare another teenager. True, the character moves slowly, even when you hold the run button, but you quickly get used to it.
In general, the gameplay of The Quarry is rather weak - there are not even new ideas. More precisely, there is one - the possibility in the event of the death of a teenager to rewind time. In the regular version of the game, this option opens only after the first playthrough, while the owners of the Deluxe edition can do it right away. You should be very careful - you can be thrown back both to the beginning of the chapter, and almost to the beginning of the game. Apparently, with the latest patch, a warning was added indicating how far you will be knocked back - without it, an unprepared player could face an unpleasant surprise.
The authors of The Quarry are generally not very interested in you replaying the plot or its individual episodes. When you complete the story for the first time, the choice of chapters becomes available, and as soon as you start one of them, access to subsequent chapters is blocked - go through everything again. There are no diagrams showing the forks either. Surely this is not so easy to implement, given the huge number of possible outcomes, but still the replay value is weak - there is not even a rewind of scenes that you have already seen.
In the second half of the article, I seemed to strongly criticize the game, but this is only because it could turn out much better. An intriguing story about cute characters is combined with a pleasant soundtrack and excellent graphics - bugs like occasionally not loading textures are easy to forgive. But just as a game, The Quarry does not stand out in any way, and the developers' attempts to add gameplay elements most often look pathetic and inappropriate. Sometimes you get so carried away watching videos that you put down the gamepad, and because of this, at a crucial moment, you don’t have time to pick it up and tilt the stick.
The Quarry is definitely one of Friv5Online best cinematic crazy games thanks to the story and the characters you get attached to, despite their dumb jokes and sometimes illogical actions. It is a pity that the gameplay was not given enough attention, placing too much emphasis on the "kintso". Obviously, Friv5Online is not going to turn off the chosen path, and there is no doubt about the talent of the team. But I want equal attention to be paid to all components - in such projects, one element is highly dependent on the other.
Pros: intriguing story; cute characters, although at first some of them are annoying; beautiful graphics and decent (in most cases) facial animation; a variety of endings, traditional for studio crazy games, depending on the decisions made.
Cons: the gameplay is too primitive; never scared; replaying the story is not as convenient as we would like.