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The Quarry

I think the main problem of this game is that it can be quite inconsistent.

The one thing that you would probably notice first are the graphics. Some shots in this game look outright gorgeous (at least on ultra settings), but then you get a cut and see that looks downright awful. I see 3 main reasons for this:

  1. A lot of heavy blur. I guess for "cinematic effect" or for "boke". Sometimes it can look ok, but very often it simply does not work properly around the objects. You will notice a lot of issues with around hair. Quite a few characters have somewhat wavy hair, and the camera is pointed at their face and you can see the locks of their hair you will notice how blur leaves huge margin around them. This effect just ruins the picture. Similar artefacts can happen during movements, too, including your own camera movements (which makes camera control even worse, when camera zooms into character's back while in some tight corner).
  2. Lighting. Again, in some shots - amazing work. In others you can notice light (or shadow) where it probably should not be. I personally noticed it a lot when there was a camera switch, essentially showing same place from different angles. In most cases it was pretty minor, and I would consider this nitpicking. But on the other hand I saw quite a few random reflections during free-roam moments: the reflections made certain props shiny, when looking at them from another angle showed that they probably should not be (made of wood or stone). I also had quite annoying artefacts of random light particles of different colors pop-up and quickly disappear.
  3. Facial animation. Once again, sometimes it is L.A. Noire level, you can see where the budget went. But at other times it's not so much facial expressions as grimaces, they are overly articulated. And I am not talking about moments where it might have been intentional. Take notice of smiles for examples, they often bare whole two jaws, which is definitely not natural.

Gameplay-wise it could also be a bit inconsistent. I think, mostly in terms of amount of your involvement in the scenes through-out the game. This was especially noticeable with chapters 9 and 10, because you can have several relatively short scenes of different characters with maybe 1 choice. In a movie or TV show that probably would have worked towards tension building for the finale, but in this game, I was wondering what was even the point, because it was breaking the pace, without providing much.

The story... Overall, I did enjoy it. It was better than Man of Medan, felt a bit more "mature", and it definitely was several heads above House of Ashes. The 1 chapter (not the prologue) probably could be considered a bit long, but it did quite a good job in establishing the characters and their relationships. They can be considered somewhat cliche at first, but they can get pretty decent character development (obviously depends on your choices).

There were some minor things, that bothered me, though. There were smaller moments when characters seemingly behaved out of character. For example closer to the end Emma, who gave us a solid look under her facade earlier, suddenly starts behaving as if she is high. And also deaf when there is practically no obstructions between her and other characters.

There were also moments that did not make much sense at all, even if you consider a brain fart happening to a character. For example, there is a moment when Jacob can lose something, when he goes for a swim. He stored that something in his pants. He somehow realizes that he lost it while he is not wearing those pants, and those pants were supposed to be not far from him, and he does not check or retrieve them later.

I think both of the examples above are result of the way the story is structured, and the way it was tested. It is essentially made up of pieces, right? Because of the choices and thus variations of what can happen at certain point depending on your past choices. There is also an aspect of narration switching between characters in a mostly chronological order. I think story was tested in this almost chronological order along with the switching. If someone took the pieces and ordered them into perspective of 1 character and followed all the respective lines separately, they could have noticed those little discrepancies.

What I did not like was... The tarot cards. Or rather the woman that appears before the chapters (won't name her, because her name may be considered a spoiler). She is a similar concept as Curator from Dark Pictures. It is kind of an attempt to turn you, player, into character in the story through communication with another entity. And I have a problem with how this is done here.

With Curator it made at least some sense to me: he had lots of books, each book containing a story. While it was never directly said, you could extrapolate, that those books allow you to roleplay a bit. Dunno if such books still exist, but in my childhood we had small books (more like comics, really), where at certain pages you had to make a choice and depending on the choice you had to go to either page X or page Y and continue reading from there. So maybe Curator's books are like that, and then you are, indeed, a character in the story and it somewhat works, regardless of who Curator really is.

The woman in "The Quarry" does not work like that. Without spoiler, the woman is part of the story. She even has her own agenda, and her own expectations of you (unlike Curator, who was mostly indifferent to your choices). That itself is fine, nothing new in story-telling with one of the characters telling the story. But she is chronologically relevant in the main plotline. That would make you, player, chronologically relevant as well, which would imply your physical existence near the location where the main event transpire. And that... Just does not work here. There are no indications of existence of an entity, that could be the player, besides epilogue, where player is referenced through the collectibles (which is pretty cool, not gonna lie), but that does not establish player's existence anywhere near the campers during the events described. Maybe after the events, but not during.

But again, overall I did enjoy the story, even though my ending felt a bit anticlimactic. At least I would have wanted to see a bit more of interactions between campers and how their relationships changed. In fact, I think this probably would be a level of production and kind of gameplay that I would want to some of the stories I have in mind, that could work as a game. Would I recommend it? Yes, but probably at a discount.