25 years after the release, Id Software's trendsetter has been polished up and released to all current game formats.
I remember terribly well the day when Quake was first released, June 22, 1996. It was summer break (from school) and I would start my third year of high school this fall. After delving into Bungie's underrated multiplayer gem Marathon 2 in the high school classroom, we switched to Quake in September 1996, and I do not think I'm exaggerating (at all) if I say I spent 1000 hours in that world.
Time has since passed by, of course. I'm almost 800 years old and the action genre has gone from Quake III: Arena to Half-Life on to Halo, Call of Duty, Battlefield to end up in some sort of dormant period in recent years, if you ask me. Fortnite, Warzone, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, Apex Legends, Overwatch... I certainly feel both old-fashioned and grumpy when I state that I believe the genre has evolved in the wrong direction over the past ten years. Maybe I'm even prepared to say that it has gone backwards in development. Especially after I deep-dived into Quake (Remastered) for two wonderful weeks.
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In recent years, Night Dive has specialised in bringing new life to old action classics such as System Shock and Sin, and their self-developed game engine is of course optimised for just this. Quake has been resurrected from the dead a number of times over the years, with mixed results, and it's no exaggeration to say this version is by far the most complete, stylish, smooth, flawless and consistently fantastic version of the original game ever created, and it's Night Dive Studios who should of course be praised for this.
Quake Remastered is (of course) the original game cast with modern rendering technology that makes for some really nice light effects and shadows. It comes complete with the classic extra missions Scourge of Armageddon and Dissolution of Eternity plus the Swedish Machine Games-developed retro expansions Dimension of the Past and Dimension of the Machine (of which the latter is completely new only for this release).
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Quake (2021) is clearly a lot nicer than the original, even if the basic material is the same. The textures look cleaner, there is no flicker, the light from the weapons you fire is thrown up against the walls and surroundings and the shadows created by patrolling enemy monsters fit the game terribly well. Even though I (as I said) spent over 1000 hours with Quake in the mid-90s, it is probably only in recent weeks that I really, really, thought about how fantastically original and atmospherically perfect it is - aesthetically. The strange mix between gothic HP Lovecraft design and that medieval knight-flare makes for a superbly well made game world drenched in originality.
Quake was originally created under chaotic conditions at the home of a fragmented Id Software where the producer John Romero fought for it to be a medieval game with swords and axes, while especially John and Adrian Carmack constantly removed these pieces from the game. As a result, Romero left the studio he co-founded. It also resulted in a game that feels so tight and so tailored to what it is, trimmed from all kinds of unnecessary content. A clean, raw, naked, compressed and above all uncompromising action experience where the focus is always on speed, control and precision. If you stay still, stationary - during a firefight - you die. Movement. movement, movement is key in Quake. And it's fast, so friggin' fast.
This, together with the level design signed primarily by Romero, makes for a fantastic experience. While today's action game guides the player either through narrow passages via some kind of invisible hand that constantly points the player in the right direction (Call of Duty) or offers multiplayer maps where the focus is on echoing empty areas rather than complex architecture (Overwatch and Apex Legends) Quake feels so much more rewarding, and challenging. The labyrinth structure of the levels fits the tempo and that gothic, heavy, dark aesthetic is so well implemented that it is difficult not to see today's action genre as a step in the wrong direction. Together with Nine Inch Nails' legendary soundtrack, it's easy to praise Quake for what it is - one of the absolute best action games ever created and in this version you can buy the single best and most complete version. It doesn't get much better than this.
10 / 10
Superb atmosphere. Great gameplay. Magnificent level design. Very challenging. Great upgrades to the graphics. Ton of content. Fantastic soundtrack.