Quake 1a

Developed by: Nightdive Studios (originally id Software)
Published by: Bethesda Softworks
Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch & Microsoft Windows

As a teen growing up in the 1990s, there was nothing more thrilling than playing a first-person shooter on the PC, especially since the big names such as Doom and Quake offered up the first chapters of their game as ‘shareware’ demos. I have vivid memories of replaying those opening levels of Quake again and again, experiencing the unusual but evocative blend of medieval and modern eras. This grimy steampunk adventure was unlike anything I’d ever played before and it left a permanent imprint on my impressionable young mind at that time. Fast-forward 25 years and despite dramatic improvements in graphical capabilities in the home console arena, there is something about the low-fi approach in Quake that makes continues to make an impact.

This remastered version maintains the same blocky graphics with a bit of a polish-and-shine, but this isn’t a complete overhaul that strips out the essence of the game. Graphically, the game looks similar to Minecraft – albeit a much more sinister and Gothic take on Minecraft. The soundtrack from Trent Reznor creates a haunting ambience whether you are wandering through an ancient medieval castle or a modern military facility, and it is surprisingly subtle – especially compared to the heavy metal stylings seen from Doom. This minimalistic approach emphasises the feeling of isolation as the player explores these intricately-detailed maps, with the roar of the various monsters echoing throughout the corridors. There’s nothing more terrifying than hearing the unsheathing of a sword and trying to work out where the next melee attack is coming from.

Quake 1b

This re-release contains the original Quake campaign alongside the two expansion mission packs: Scourge of Armagon and Dissolution of Eternity. Both of which introduce new weapons, enemies and power-ups to the gameplay. I’d never played either of this before, and it was fun to see the new monsters added to the line-up, particularly the curiously designed Centroids, which is effectively a scorpion with two nail-guns attached to it. The game also features a couple of recent additions, Dimension of the Past, created for the game’s 20th anniversary and Dimension of the Machine, an expansion made for this 25th anniversary remaster. Both of these modern expansion-packs use the original game’s assets, but with some truly inspired level design choices. There were moments where it felt like I was playing a first-person version of Dark Souls games, thanks to some truly breath-taking Gothic architecture. The game also contains the potential to download future releases, with Honey and Quake 64 currently available.

From the moment I booted up this game and saw the hub world which allows users to choose which difficulty and episode to play, I was awash with nostalgia. However, once I’d played through that first chapter that I’d played to death in my teens, I was experiencing a wealth of brand-new Quake levels that I’d never seen before. The sheer amount of content in this game is staggering, and it is extremely well-designed throughout. The juxtaposition of Gothic medieval horror and modern science-fiction elements are extremely endearing and distinguish it from most titles out there. Subsequent games leant further into the science-fiction angle, but there is a rusty griminess to the Quake series that makes it stand out from the crowd. It is certainly a franchise that deserves a reboot with a modern eye; much like how Wolfenstein 3D and Doom were given 21st Century makeovers.

Quake 1c

Playing this on Xbox One, I naturally attempted to unlock the achievements as I played through and most of them are related to the general completion of the game’s many episodes. Unfortunately, a number of them are tied to completing the entire game in Nightmare mode; a task that may seem impossible at first glance but the ability to ‘quick save’ the game at any point makes it more bearable. While some PC purists may balk at the idea of using a controller to play a FPS, instead using a keyboard and mouse; I’ve played so many FPS games using a controller that it has become second-nature and didn’t really affect my prowess. There were some moments where the game stuttered, most notably in the expansion packs, and I was surprised that a 25-year old game would cause issues to this current generation of consoles. Graphically, the game doesn’t appear to be too different to its original incarnation, aside from a tidier UI and perhaps some smoother graphics, so I am shocked that I had issues with the frame rate at times.

Quake was one of those legendary titles that helped shape my love for videogames and FPS games, in particular. Despite its age, the game holds up extremely well with expert level design and its simple, yet enjoyable game mechanics. Unavailable on home consoles since the days of the Nintendo 64 and Sega Saturn, it was an absolute joy to revisit this classic in its entirety and with a bevy of extra features, including multiplayer! While the multiplayer might be simplistic compared to the progression trees and limitless unlockables found in modern titles, it is still great fun to go “fragging” in some classic deathmatch maps.

A genre-defining game in every sense of the word, Quake has never looked better and this is the ultimate edition of the game. This is an essential purchase for any old-school PC gamers out there, but also a fun curiosity for modern gamers wanting to see the origins of the genre.

Score – ★★★★★

Quake: Remastered is available as a digital download on Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch and Microsoft Windows.

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