Some of the scariest moments of Quake one were in the last 2 levels off the 4th world where i had 2 Fiends, chasing after, i could hear the sound of a Vore crying in my head phones, i had accidentaly alerted 3 Spawns who had now joined the chase and in my hand i had a rocket launcher wondering what the hell was going on.
Some how through a strange combination luck,infighting well aimed shots and weapon switching i was able to get out of there take a breather and save so that i wouldnt have to go through the same ordeal again.
In a weird way, i really grew to love this game the way i would Chief Keefs “Nobody” mixtape its a game that is singuarly focused on tone and nothing else, its the kind of game that in retrospect you remember being well thought out and planned but when youre in the thick of it, is really disorientating and raw about the whole experience.
Right down to the controls: Movement, changing jumping, shooting its the first person experience whittled down to its skeleton, one of the things that annoys me about recent “old school” FPS games is that they talk up how i debt they are to “the classics” but they keep adding these weird little extra parts that more often tend to harken to Duke Nukem 3D or Redneck Rampage than anything, its almost always generic metal music or a button that allows you to do something “funny” that has no baring on what is happening in the playing field whatsoever.
If theres one big reason why Duke Nukem looks so archaic and embarassing in a more “socially aware” era of games its because it CONSTANTLY draws attention to itself. It was only considered funny then if only because of the quips and cheap mysoginy to make the player feel grown and transgressive whatever a weak attempt at transgression it may be, but now its only “funny” in you do looking at a 30 year old metal in aviator shades shriek about how the fact that they dont make movies like Cobra anymore is the reason 16 year olds are so “sensitive”.
Quake never tries to draw attention to itself outside of Id congratulating you, Romero,Carmack,Mcgee & Petersen were never story tellers in the traditional narrative sense but they had more than enough imagination to spare where it counted, Petersen is and has always been a HP Lovecraft fan but he was smart to incorporate the ideas and parts of Lovecraft that had nothing to do with nebbish confused racism and xenophobia. Its purposfully alienating and proceeds to add more of that as it goes on through its castles & swamps all the while the purple skies shroud you from whatever sense of place that you might try to grasp onto.
Dooms sense of verticality is strong but it was only hinted at in terms of how it would transpose you through tunnels,viaducts and once in a blue moon if Sandy Petersen wanted to mess with you drop you into a pit filled with Imps & Pinkys when you thought youd, see the end, Quake is almost kind of gleeful in how it approaches it, its still clear and for my money one of the best aspects of Quake is how a game so distant is able to direct the player where they need to go but at the same time its willing to be nasty like push you into pits filled with Spawns, move the ground from under you to expose lava and present you two Fiends to deal with.
From my time spent in the mod world its fascinating to see in WADs like Saturning Chapel, Misama or shit even Ancient Aliens take that sense of verticality but apply into different ways to emphiasise that kind of movement incorporated into such an old skeleton of a game.
Alot of people lay the blame at Quake for being the forebare for a generation of PS3 & 360 games all going for a similair kind of hard brown and grey colours witch were meant to evoke some sense of realism but just look drab for the sake of being drab. While i wouldnt say Quakes look outside of the times where i couldnt see where Spawns were hiding because a section in the map would be too dark for me to see anything.
Between that and the brooding soundtrack theres something strangly comforting in its dark void,atonal chords, muffled groans , the best way to put it is that the soundtrack oozes from the speakers ,it always sounds slightly too loud to be ambient but it wraps itself around you. Its the musical equivalent of feeling and being at the bottom. Its cold, you have to live with the feeling that nobody will come and take you away from it and you cant claw your way out if it. i accepted ages ago that i will never been much of a Nine Inch Nails fan but Trent Reznors work on this game deserves to be celebrated.
Between this and Aubrey Hodges work on Doom 64 and Final Doom id personally prefer if more FPS games attempted for this kind of frightning & enveloping score instead of trying to rehash Effigy of the Forgotten for the 80th time.
Even if you played the game and just had the sound effects while the enemies may not be as visually memorable as Baron of Hell or the Cacodemon the sound design is strong to where you only need to hear groans shrieks and whatever the horrible squelching sounds the Spawn makes in order for you to know whats coming ahead. Of course part of the charm with the enemies for me is they still retain some of that juvinalia even if this was their attempt to make a more serious game compared to their previous effort.
Ogres i feel would be better suited in a game inspired by the kind of cheap “video nasty” film that produced works like Nekromatic and are annoying to deal with due to the difficult to follow patterns of how they follow grenades but they work as a way to keep the player moving and Spawns are nothing more of a chore to deal with because theyre movement patters are so scattershot its hard to keep track of one, the fact that upon killing them they blow up and do the same ammount of damage as a rocket doesnt help, A case of One egg too many.
I died alot in this game, i didnt bunny hop, nor did i rocket jump as much as i probably shouldve but i speak as somebody who the first FPS game i played was 2003s Vietcong. A tactical shooter that these days i would be surprised to learn if anybody remembers it besides me and i mostly stuck to having bot fights in the one map i had at the beginning and the tutorial it taught me the basics of how to appreciate a genre that up until then never interested me that much.
But ive got nothing but admiration for Quake, it really is a genuinly strange game where everything in it is purposfully put together but it looks and feels mishapen, its one of those rare cases where the older a game gets the more the sharp points and primitive designs add to the uncannyness of what is going on instead in a positive aspect compared,its a gloomier interpretation of Dooms maze and puzzles haunted house ride experience,omnidirectional but at the same time it blinkers you to one thing:finding the exit and taking out everything in your path for survivals sake, and i really enjoyed my time with it.