“The Quarry” is not only the best horror game of the year, but a step up in interactive media at large.


Developer Supermassive Games is at the forefront of the next stage of interactive media. Their games, mainly The career, represent a new frontier of digital convergence. Their innovation is best conceptualized by their recent journey into developing cinematic horror stories, including Until dawn and the Dark Pictures Anthology. But beyond scope and innovation in the gaming landscape, Supermassive Games is poised to make a huge impact on the cinematic landscape as a whole.

Too easily blamed on the pandemic – which has undoubtedly played a considerable role – the cinematic experience has been changing for years. Key titles are streamed directly, and the theatrical experience is an unpredictable hodgepodge. Mid-budget titles prove remunerative while established IP addresses (by looking at you, Light year) disappoint on several fronts. Currently, the main innovations of titles like The career are contained exclusively within the realm of the game. Although, in all likelihood, media integration could see Supermassive’s best ideas move from the game to the vast, expansive world of movies beyond them.

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To better understand what makes Supermassive’s game output so inimitable, it’s worth revisiting the scope of choice-based games. It’s still the best qualifier for what Supermassive has done since the release of Until dawnreleased by Sony Computer Entertainment as a PlayStation 4 exclusive, in 2015. The likes of Zork, an interactive text-based game developed by four members of the MIT Dynamic Modeling Group in 1979, is an early example. Ludology, broadly defined as the study of games and mechanics, holds that the mechanics and rules of a game best conceptualize what the game is. Conversely, narratology – a common analytical framework in the cinema as well – argues the opposite. Expression and meaning are rooted in narrative structures, not gameplay.

Choice-based games balance both approaches. Contemporary examples use playful systems to express the narrative. Bethesda, a studio known for its extensive RPGS, including The old scrolls and To fall series, allow players to develop any type of character they want. Often these choices turn out to be binary in nature, locking players into one of many predetermined paths and endings. Studios such as Bioware, especially with their previous titles, were also constrained. Even studios such as Quantic Dream, known for their deep, narrative choice-based thrillers, have struggled, often constrained by technology and the myriad variables at play. Balancing both story and gameplay, writers must accommodate differences in player decision and interest, limiting what they can and cannot do and, therefore, how the story can and cannot unfold.

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Supermassive games, especially with The career, have instead chosen to embrace these constraints. Even compared to the spiritual predecessor Until dawn, The career has considerably less capitalized “Gameplay”. Accessible to as wide an audience as possible – even those who don’t play games –The career most often plays in cutscenes. This gives players dialogue options or forces them to make quick decisions, such as running or hiding when being chased by an antagonist. There are isolated game segments where players have full control of any respective character, able to walk around and explore the environment, but these are transitional stages, ways to move the narrative forward, without ever demanding more from the player apart from navigating from one pointer to another.

So, rather than a game, The career is best conceptualized as an interactive movie. It’s a nickname the developers are even aware of The career comes with a built-in movie mode, an opportunity to tweak character traits and decisions before sitting down and watching a given scenario unfold.

Further cementing the movie moniker, Supermassive Games is known for casting a slew of A-list stars. Until dawn stars the likes of Rami Malek and Hayden Panettiere. The Dark Pictures Anthology has entries featuring Ashley Tisdale and Will Poulter, while The career is a veritable assemblage of horror iconography. David Arquette, Ted Raimi, and Lin Shaye feature, while Ariel Winter, Justice Smith, and Brenda Song (they’re practically flying on Disney Channel at this point) serve as playable characters. The closest Quantic Dream, the closest competitor to Supermassive, was having Elliot Page and Willem Dafoe in Beyond two souls.

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Cinema has been toying with the idea of ​​interactive storytelling for years. Horror fans remember the thrill of Final Destination 3 DVD release. A special feature titled “Choose Their Fate” gave viewers the ability to make decisions to alter the course of the film. Often this resulted in alternate deaths, never having a profound impact on the film itself. But it was an exciting concept, so fitting for this franchise. Netflix, for its part, released Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, an interactive episode in the black mirror series. In terms of non-genre properties, Netflix has an entire section dedicated to interactive stories, scoring cover images for the likes of Boss Baby: Get That Baby and Minecraft story mode with interactive labels.

As the theatrical experience adapts to an ever-changing climate, interactive storytelling is poised to be the future. Of course, the vagaries of digital media are unpredictable. HD DVD and 3D were positioned as the future of cinema, and everyone knows how it turned out. The convergence of different forms of media is above all linked to profit and accessibility. As revolutionary as the technology and interaction may be, it doesn’t matter if the audience isn’t interested.

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Fortunately, The career made its debut at number 4 on the UK Games Chart, beating legacy titles and franchises in a respectable performance for an M-rated slasher game. In other words, in one form or another, it’s clear that audiences are at least interested in interactive cinema at large, and currently Supermassive Games is spearheading the idea. Although the technology is still limited, The careerfor his part, still locks key characters into predetermined traits and actions (at the start, Jacob has to sabotage the van). Few, if any, studios give players as much control over a story as Supermassive.

Even in video game form, it’s a distinctly cinematic experience. Friends can meet online or together proximally for couch co-op. It’s time to experiment The career with others, screaming in tandem at fear and breathing in relief whenever a character barely dodges death. Supermassive Games has found a niche where they excel, one that’s poised to be the future of storytelling to some extent. In other words, Supermassive’s success with The career isn’t just a hit in the gaming landscape. It’s a hit in the slasher subgenre, allowing gamers to experience what it’s like to be in a slasher movie for the first time. It is a success in the field of horror. More importantly, it’s a hit for movies and storytelling, basically.

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