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The Quarry is a motion capture showcase on PS5 and Xbox Series X

But is the Series S version cut back too far?

Update 14/07/2022: The Quarry's missing god ray effect on PS5 has now been fixed in a new patch. This now brings PS5 up to par with Xbox Series X's delivery of the effect, confirming it was a bug with the previous build.

Supermassive Games seems to have found a winning formula with its choose-your-own-adventure horror games - and The Quarry is the most compelling and visually striking effort yet. The game uses the popular Unreal engine and is out on PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PC and last-gen machines, a proper cross-platform release despite reports that it was originally a Stadia exclusive. How does each platform perform - especially the underpowered Series S - and does the unique cinematic presentation work on a technical level? Let's find out.

Before we get to the numbers, let's set the scene with a few words on The Quarry's cinematic presentation. With limited player agency - and even a movie mode that strips out inputs entirely - there's a huge emphasis on the motion-captured cast performances. Presented in a filmic 2.35:1 aspect ratio, every character is put in tight, close-up shots where any technical shortcomings would be quite obvious.

Thankfully, the motion capture tech is excellent, with only a few 'uncanny valley' moments, and these are mostly noticed with one character (Emma). The material work also holds up to close scrutiny, with skin reacting convincingly to torchlight and sunlight, including subsurface scattering that simulates light passing through thinner parts of the body like ears or fingers. Characters' eyes are also beautifully reproduced, with reflections and realistic movement. Altogether, it's an impressive showcase of real-time character rendering, which together with filmic framing and depth of field, gives Supermassive the tools needed to tell a story.

Tom examines The Quarry in detail, pitting PS5, Series X and Series S versions against one another.Watch on YouTube

As you might expect from a game with a cinematic focus, the action targets 4K - with dynamic resolution scaling to ensure a stable 30fps on PS5 and Xbox Series X. We saw PS5 drop to 3072x1728, while Series X dropped to 3328x1872 - so a small advantage for Series X in the most complex scenes. However, this is barely noticeable thanks to plenty of postprocessing, including TAA (temporal anti-aliasing), heavy camera motion blur, depth of field and other UE tricks. However, PS5 seemed to be missing a trick during our testing - specifically, it didn't show the 'god ray' volumetrics that streak through the sky on Series X in some scenes. This was later fixed in a July 8th update, after our video coverage was completed, restoring parity to the two consoles.

the quarry series x vs ps5
God rays seem absent on PS5 - a bug that's since been fixed following a July 8th update.

On PC, hitting 4K 30fps is dependent on your hardware, but you also have the option to boost shadow quality higher than the console releases, with the ultra setting providing noticeably softer shadows. The RTX 3060 Ti and Ryzen 7 5700X combo I used in testing managed about 24fps with maxed settings at 4K. With an RTX 3070 or better, 4K 30fps at ultra settings ought to be possible, assuming the rest of your hardware is up to snuff.

Series S is perhaps the most interesting target platform, as The Quarry requires a few cutbacks to match its more limited horsepower. The render resolution is set to 1440p, but it can drop to 900p in more stressful scenes and 1260p during more typical runs of play. This reduction in resolution affects fine details like hair and tree branches, while postprocessing features like depth of field render at a lower quality. Elsewhere, materials and textures are affected, with some textures appearing close to Series X but a few appearing stuck in a low-res state that resembles a streaming issue - only a higher-res asset never pops in. Finally, God rays are visibly lower-res with noticeable artefacts, grass is stripped back and shadows are downgraded too, all in service of that 30fps target frame-rate.

the quarry series x vs series s
the quarry streaming issue series s vs series x
the quarry series x vs series s comparison
Xbox Series S has cutbacks to texture resolution and depth of field, as well as a lower res presentation.

So let's talk performance. Both PS5 and Series X are robust here, sometimes losing a frame on camera cuts but otherwise sticking to regular frame-time delivery of 33.3ms thanks to the dynamic resolution system working as intended. The only performance difference between the two consoles was one scene where PS5 dropped to 27fps, while Series X remained at 30fps - hardly a deal-breaker for Sony console owners. More interesting is the Series S version, which has bigger issues despite its heavy cutbacks to fidelity. The opening prologue drive is between 20 and 30fps, as is another scene early on, but after the title card we recorded a good two to three hours of nigh-perfect 30fps. We're limited in the amount of time we can test each version, but from what we can see the Series S ultimately comes good in terms of performance.

So ultimately The Quarry circles back to more familiar topical territory for Supermassive Games, but its tech has come a long way since 2015's Until Dawn. The detailed motion capture, materials, and Unreal's post-processing suite look largely superb, and work in service of your choices as you chart a course through its story. For PS5 and Series X owners, you can't go too far wrong - both push for 4K at a stable 30fps. On Series S, necessary cutbacks for the 4TF console detract slightly from the experience, but it still holds together in terms of performance. All three versions still come fully recommended - and especially played together as a group, The Quarry is a real treat.

As far as 2022 is concerned, Supermassive's work isn't finished yet. We're actually getting a second dose of horror with a new instalment to the Dark Pictures Anthology - called The Devil in Me - later this year, and it'll be fascinating to see whether the tech evolves in the next release.

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