An Updated Classic 

HIGH Fast, smooth shooting that feels timeless.

LOW Burying the Nine Inch Nails soundtrack in the audio mix.

WTF Being unaware of motion controls and thinking my controller needed replacing.

Quake was a game that passed me by.

Unlike Doom, it hadn’t been released on every console in existence, and by the time I played it on PC around 2000, it felt archaic in a post Half-Life world. In fact, I’ve always seen it as Doom’s less charismatic relation and the brown color palette hinted at a lack of a clear identity which the inconsistent sequels seemed to confirm. However, Quake’s influence on gaming is not in doubt, particularly due to it pioneering fully 3D graphics and online multiplayer. Its relevance is clear, and this omission from my playlist has always felt like a gap in my gaming CV, now rectified.

Originally developed by ID Software, this remaster is handled by Nightdive Studios. Players make their way through levels filled with enemies while avoiding traps and finding colored keys for locked doors, all in first-person. It includes the original campaign, the two subsequent expansion packs, another that was developed as part of the 20th anniversary, and a brand-new one developed for this release. 

Remasters like this one can be tricky to review as they need to be faithful to the original release while having enough improvements to make them more palatable to modern audiences. Nostalgia is a powerful thing and memories become distorted with age – I would say a successful remaster should offer an experience that emulates how someone thinks they remember an old game looking and playing, and Quake does a good job of achieving this.

When I think about classic ID Software games, I think about fast, smooth and responsive first-person shooting. For me, this is what makes them timeless and enjoyable to this day. Quake has these qualities in spades, now bolstered with a higher, more stable framerate. Slowdown only reared its ugly head when I moved onto the first expansion pack. It also looks how I remember Quake, with grotesque-looking enemies in large (usually brown) architecture, yet appearing sharper than ever in 4k and with subtle improvements.

This is all well and good so far, but my problems with Quake Remastered are holdovers from its original release.

While the fully-3D environments were groundbreaking at the time and added verticality to gameplay, I feel these environments lack character. There is an overuse of brown in the color palette (common to games of the period – I grew tired of this ‘look’ years ago) which results in drab, plain-looking levels. The lack of a plot isn’t really an issue, but levels seem to be randomly-ordered and there’s no feeling of a progression, mechanically or narratively, though the expansion packs rectify some of this.  

There’s also a lack of enemy variety which can be attributed to the limitations of technology back then. However, the situation is made worse by Quake pulling some of the same tricks as Doom — things like spawning enemies behind the player character after grabbing up a power-up.

However, Quake does manage to stay interesting in how each enemy provides different challenges. For example, the Ogre is deadly at short range with chainsaws, but can also shoot grenades from a distance. Some enemies (such as the Vore) cross the line from challenging to irritating thanks to spamming homing missiles, but I found Quake to be a fair challenge overall. For those looking for stiffer resistance, the expansion packs increase the amount of enemies onscreen at once, but sometimes at the cost of slowdown.

Quake Remastered sees the triumphant return of the original Nine Inch Nails soundtrack, which had previously been missing due to licensing issues. As a longtime fan of the band, finally getting a chance to hear it in game was exciting. Ironically, I was disappointed early on — it sounded basic and lacked depth. However, after turning down the sound effects and turning up the music volume, I began to appreciate it. It’s a shame the default audio mix buries it, because it really is a fabulous, throbbing soundscape of disconnected audio that gives Quake more of a horror feel than Doom. Once I was able to foreground the soundtrack, the tension rose notably.  

Quake is also famous for its multiplayer, and I felt duty-bound to at least try it, despite my disinterest in playing with others. I spent two fruitless hours dying a lot, with not a single kill to my name. I was completely out of my depth, with fellow fraggers skilfully jumping around and killing me with ease. I therefore cannot give an opinion on Quake’s multiplayer aside from commenting that it is stable and I was able to be matched with others without many issues. 

Apart from being repeatedly blasted to atoms by the pros, I enjoyed my time with Quake. It doesn’t have the same nostalgic pull for me that Doom does, which may contribute to a sense that it’s Doom’s less charismatic relative. That said, it’s a remaster done correctly, feeling like the original with technical improvements that help to showcase its timeless, quick and smooth gameplay.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed by Nightdive Studios and published by Bethesda. It is currently available on XBO, XBX/S, PS4, PS5, Switch and PC. This copy of the game was obtained via paid download and reviewed on PS4. Approximately 10 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed.  2 hours of play were spent in multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated M and contains Blood and Gore, Violence. The official description reads as follows: This is a first-person shooter in which players assume the role of a soldier that travels through time to stop an evil force from destroying humanity. Players traverse through maze-like medieval environments and use shotguns, nail guns, and grenade launchers to kill various enemies (e.g., zombies, demonic forces, scorpions, humans) in frenetic run-and-gun combat. Battles are accompanied by gunfire sounds, screams of pain, and large explosions. Large blood-splatter effects occur frequently, and several attack cause enemies to explode into bloody chunks. Some areas depict mutilated body parts on the ground or falling from ceilings.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available. 

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: This game does not offer subtitles, but has no dialogue in game. At the end of episodes, the ending is described via text. This cannot be resized and could be hard to read against the background. Playing without sound revealed that without sound cues, gameplay can be affected – for example for clues for enemy placements, being able to react to ambushes and hints at other traps. Due to reliance on audio-only cues, this game is not fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: Yes, this game offers fully remappable controls. Movement is left stick. Camera is on the right stick. Jumping is X and L2. R1 is weapons wheel. R2 is shoot. Up on the d-pad switches to shotguns, down switches to projectile weapons, right to needle guns and left to melee/special weapons. Clicking left stick centers the screen.

Gareth Payne
Latest posts by Gareth Payne (see all)
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments