The Quarry killed off one of my characters in a really bogus way and I’m honestly still kind of annoyed about it
Obviously, we’re heading directly into spoiler territory here so, if you haven’t yet completed at least one run through the game, consider this an invitation to bookmark this piece and come back when you have.
If you read my review of The Quarry last week, you’ll know I really liked the game. I’ve actually played through it a couple more times since the end of my review to see just how far I could sever or entangle the game’s spiderwebbing story threads.
The moment I’m talking about here came up in my first main playthrough and occurred toward the end of the game. The latter of The Quarry involves Dylan and Kaitlyn returning to the Lodge in hopes of setting a trap for the ravening werewolf on their tail. There is a sequence in the Lodge’s kitchen that is a clear homage to Jurassic Park. Dylan and Kaitlyn skittered into the kitchen and hid behind the rattly, stainless steel counters. To Kaitlyn’s direct right, The Quarry spotlit an open freezer, and offered one of its binary options: have Kaitlyn make a dash for the freezer, or stay with Dylan.
Caught up in the obvious reference to one of my favourite movies of all time, I told Kaitlyn to go for the freezer. She did, bolting for the door and leaving her friend to fend for himself. She slid into the freezer, the door swinging shut behind her. She breathed a sigh of relief. In the sudden quiet, the click of the latch on the freezer door sounds like a gunshot. The door is locked.
Oh okay, I thought. You baited me with an obvious reference. Now I have to figure out how to save Dylan and get Kaitlyn out of the fridge.
Kaitlyn turned and tried the door. Locked, only openable from the other side. It won’t budge. She delivered a single feeble pound on the locked freezer door with her fist before stepping back and sighing.
A pop up message appeared on-screen: “Kaitlyn froze to death. Do you want to spend one of your Death Rewinds to save her?”
I couldn’t believe it. I felt cheated. Up to this point, The Quarry had barely let me play as Kaitlyn, and it certainly hadn’t run me into a dead-end before. Every decision I’d made had sent the story in a new direction full of new problems to navigate, so I played the moment with the expectation that this would happen again. This was the only time the game had thrust a finger in my face and said, firmly, No, That Was Wrong, and it did it with a character I’d scarcely gotten to know yet.
Quite apart from anything else, I also thought Kaitlyn accepted her frosty demise with a little too much ease. And for the freezer to kill her instantly? How powerful is this fridge that it can snap-freeze a grown human woman? And what the hell kind of freezer doesn’t have a safety latch for avoiding exactly this kind of situation? Also, this is a freezer in a lodge at a summer camp for children. Get the manager in here, I’m about to lose my mind.
Despite telling myself I wouldn’t use any on my first playthrough, I felt so blindsided that I decided to spend a Death Rewind and roll the game back to the last quick save. This triggered a specific bug that’s been plaguing the game since launch and wound the timeline back to the a sequence involving Abigail in the early part of game. I was aware of this bug before the moment arrived — 2K had reached out during the review period to warn me about it but, in an effort to avoid spoilers, had not said which sequence it occurred in, only that I should be wary of any late-game choices involving Kaitlyn. In the heat of the moment, lost in the sauce and enjoying myself, I’d forgotten to keep this warning in the back of my mind. Grumbling, I manually reloaded my most recent quick save, hoping that might solve the problem. Too late: the save dropped me back in at the moment after the freezer decision had been made. The sequence played out again, and Kaitlyn died a second time.
So she’s just dead and there’s nothing I can do about it, I thought, irritated. I had no choice. If the Death Rewind was out of the question, then Kaitlyn had to die in order for me to progress.
The moment I chose to seal Kaitlyn’s fate, the werewolf promptly swallowed Dylan whole, revealing why Kaitlyn couldn’t hope to survive the freezer, and The Quarry moved on. A two-for-one unavoidable stuff up! Love this for me.
Weirdly, The Quarry never explored the consequences of the death of Kaitlyn or Dylan after the fact. The whole sorry event seemed to happen in a weird narrative dead-end. No-one mourned them. No-one even seemed to know that they had died, or wondered where they’d got to. A moment of complete speculation on my part: the sequence seems designed around an expectation that you won’t to go into the damned freezer. But if that were true, why would you bait me with the Jurassic Park reference? When the rest of the game feels like it reacts to your decisions and incorporates them into its horror movie logic, an abrupt dead end feels like a rug pull. It’s rude, and kind of unfair.
Will Kaitlyn’s lonely death in ice cream storage be enough to stop me running The Quarry again? Does it change my opinion of it? No, not really. It’s more of a bugbear than anything. The narrative threads can’t trail on and on, in every direction, forever. The buck has to stop somewhere. I just wish there’d been something to tell me this might happen. Give me a hint! Plant a seed about the freezer having a bad latch early in the narrative and then leave it up to me to remember it! Perhaps, in one of the game’s earlier, splintering paths, that conversation happens and I simply haven’t seen it, who knows.
Anyway, The Quarry is out now. I think it’s one of the year’s best games, one you should play huddled on a couch with friends if you can. It’s a smart narrative experience that works hard to surprise the player, but sometimes the surprise is a bit of a rude one. If you ignored the earlier spoiler warning and read on anyway, may you learn from my mistakes.