"I ain't afraid of no Quake."
Quake is something I managed to get attached to. The sort of game where once you start playing, by the time you stop, you look at the clock and each time it is many, many hours later. For some people though, that is Doom. I've played my fair share of Doom, granted. But there was something that got me interested in Quake instead. Whatever reason it was, once I got the CD, I tried it out on DOSBox. There was only one problem with that, and that was running it on DOSBox. That is something I will get to later, though.
Quake is a FPS from id Software back when they were their own company and so was Bethesda. Time has marched on, and now the Bethesda that made The Terminator on the Genesis, Home Alone on the NES, as well as other games that are infamously bad. Then they made TES and that magically cleaned up their track record. Quake was impressive at the time. Massively, MASSIVELY impressive, and is a possible reason why Cyrix processors kinda... went away. It came only on CD-ROM without midi music that could be outputted through AdLib chipsets (or similar) or the Roland Sound Canvases. The CD-ROM came with CDDA music that was ambient, chilling music by Trent Reznor/NiN. Yes, that is why in some releases the NiN logo is on the nail ammo for those that didn't know.
So then, what is the game like?
A quick prerequisite to this section, that being source ports.
I won't lie when I say that playing Quake on DOSBox feels slow and kind of choppy. 35FPS isn't ideal anymore, mainly because we have games like Crysis that became a meme and pushed hardware. I figure Quake was something like that back then, and being able to run it on the best hardware was something of a really expensive endeavor. 16MB recommended under dos, 24MB recommended under Win95, Pentium or better (Math Coprocessor was required) CD-ROM and 80MB of HDD. Not to mention that this is the DOS version where it was only software rendering.
WinQuake, which was HW-rendered, plays on modern systems. That is, if you're ok with when it initially opens, your res going to the smallest possible res on your chipset and then going to your preferred resolution. GLQuake was also an id port of the game to OpenGL. (It was called something like that.)
When using a source port of your choice, it plays a lot smoother. I usually use Mark V, but you can use others, such as Darkplaces, QuakeSpasm and UQE. The overall gameplay is quite enjoyable, even if the maze-y maps are quite disorienting sometimes and can cause the player to go in circles. Either way, the game is quite playable and fun at that (sometimes). There are times where what you're supposed to do doesn't make sense, so you have to go around the map to figure out where a key is.
Well, gameplay wise...
There are four episodes, excluding the "final boss" level. I say it in quotes because there is really only two bosses in the whole game, with the first one being piss easy. The very hard difficulty is something you have to intentionally look for as well, so if you go looking for it, be aware that you did it to yourself. There is no intentionally assanine Nightmare difficulty anymore for one reason or another.
I usually like playing ton the easiest difficulty as the game isn't that hard then and I can get some enjoyment out of it that isn't me reloading from saves repeatedly and nearly breaking things because I keep getting killed for some reason. Playing it on easy difficulties means that I can play without the game being a complete pain in the ass. Call me what you want for it, but this way I can say that I enjoyed the game and isn't just me being angry because I'm no good at it.
What an eye-popping experience.
There's enemies that you'd expect to see in a hellish id game. Spawn are the worst and make this really disgusting wet sound. Fortunately, they are only in E4 so you don't have to deal with them too often. There's also Shamblers and Vores, which are not fun to deal with in the slightest. As far as your weapons go, you get the regular single-barrel shotgun, a double-barrel shotgun, a nailgun, a super nailgun (nailgun but faster), a grenade launcher, a rocket lawnchair, (they use the same ammo, just one fires in an arc and the other doesn't) and the thunderbolt. There is no BFG clone, as the closest you have is firing the thunderbolt into the water which is essentially pointless as there's not usually enemies in the water.
Just a knight dropping in.
Control wise, I prefer the keyboard instead of the mouse and keyboard. That's different when it comes to Q2, but Q2 plays completely differently to Q1. Mouse is good for when you are doing more than horizontal movement, but in Quake, you're not really doing that with the mouse. Unless that's just me not setting up controls right. It could always be that.
Then, there's the music.
I'm not really a huge fan of it. I get that it's supposed to be atmospheric, and I do honestly enjoy listening to NiN, but the music is almost too atmospheric, like noise more than music. In a game like Quake, I'd prefer to turn on actual NiN and slay some demons, like the music in Doom. I usually turn on something that is more metal. Something fast that fits the bill for slaying demons. It may fit the bill for the atmosphere, but it doesn't do the trick for me most of the time.
As a side note though, I would like to mention that this is the kind of game where smoothing really is an issue. On some ports of the game, there is a lot of smoothing that takes away the sharpness of the look of the game, and makes things look, well, not as good as it should. It's a problem in games, as looking at something that is exceptionally sharp and what the game was basically supposed to look like just... looks more natural.
Would I recommend Quake? Of course, it's a classic. Just use a source port of your own choice for the best performance.