Review – Quake (Switch)

Quake is more than just a classic gaming franchise, it’s an institution. It was the original Crysis, the first game to make people want to spend hundreds of bucks on a graphics card just to play it with friends, as it was also one of the first games to truly popularize online gaming. It paved the way for eSports as we know today and spawned acclaimed sequels. It even spawned a freaking convention that exists to this very day. Speaking of “Quake Convention”, it was during this year’s Quakecon that Bethesda swiftly announced a surprise release of the first game on the franchise in remastered form, courtesy of the turbo wizards at Night Dive Studios. What a match made in heaven.

Quake Nailgun

The nailgun is to Quake what the BFG is to Doom.

This brand new Quake remaster is currently available on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Switch. Next-gen versions of game will be released soon. I know that, for all intents and purposes, playing this game on the Switch would result in me actively playing the “weakest” remaster of them all, but here’s the thing: this is the first portable version of Quake to be ever released in official form. I cannot believe it took us so long to get a proper portable Quake, because it works perfectly on a platform like the Switch. Its bite-sized levels (they mostly take between eight to ten minutes to beat) and fast paced are perfect for short bursts.

The reason I call it the “weakest” of the remasters is due to its performance. At first, with the initial settings and enhancements the game deems the most essential, the game runs at the most solid of 60fps, all while looking infinitely better than the original Quake, with improved textures, lighting, and completely reworked enemy models, as well as their animations. If you decide to turn any other feature on, like, for instance, anti-aliasing, you will start noticing a few framerate hiccups here and there, especially when things get too hectic onscreen. Considering it’s Quake we’re talking about, that means it will happen often after the first chapter or so.

Quake Blood

These square drops of blood were the most realistic effect you could get back in 1996.

I did not mind that at all. It is a bummer considering this is a very old game, meaning that the Switch, as weak it is, should run it without a hitch. But Night Dive’s work always results in a remaster so epic it renders the original game obsolete as a result, being no different in here. It’s still a blast. Anti-aliasing or texture smoothing didn’t feel necessary on the Switch’s small screen. Meanwhile, I turned all of these features on when playing the game on Xbox (it’s on Game Pass, remember), as visual enhancements are far more noticeable on a 60″ television, without a single framerate hiccup.

Quake Level Design

Gee, I wonder if this room full of conveniently placed items and scary walls has some hidden traps?

The sound department is an interesting beast. Quake was well known for featuring a soundtrack composed by Nine Inch Nails at the peak of their popularity in the mid-90’s. The game’s theme song is one of Trent Reznor’s most iconic compositions of all time. With that being said, those who grew up with the Nintendo 64 version of Quake, such as myself, have fond memories of its dark ambient soundtrack composed by Aubrey Hodges, the same man behind Doom 64‘s soundtrack. This remaster of Quake features both soundtracks, which is great, but they sound very compressed, as compressed as they did back in the day. It’s disappointing, because both soundtracks are amazing, and I love how Night Dive gave me the option to relive my N64 nostalgia. They deserved a bit more love.


I hate these scorpions with a passion.

I can’t criticise Night Dive at all, though. Just like with any other of their pristine remasters, this version of Quake plays like a freaking dream. Granted, you may have to tinker the aiming sensitivity a bit on the pause menu and maybe turn off the gyro aim assist depending on your playstyle. I’d also recommend turning the aim assist option off, but once you tinker the game’s controls to your liking, boy oh boy, get ready for the best Quake has ever been in terms of gameplay. Fast-paced, chaotic, stupidly challenging, everything you know and love about it is still here. Not to mention the fact that, yes, online multiplayer is present in all versions of the game and so is crossplay!

That’s not even the best part. Every single level ever released through official means, as in, the base game and its countless expansions through the years, is present in this build. There is even a brand new expansion, which shows the importance and longevity of Quake after twenty-five years. People are still making brand new levels for the damn thing, and they are as good as the ones made by John Romero and American McGee (yup, he worked on Quake). All of that for a meager ten bucks. The amount of bang for your buck in this remaster is absolutely insane.

Rocket Launcher

I love Quake, but this game might have the ugliest sprite for a rocket launcher I have ever seen. Yikes.

I can’t believe this is the first time Quake has ever been officially released on a portable. Playing this on the Switch feels downright perfect. Its fast-paced gameplay, ludicrous speed, bite-sized levels, and utterly ridiculous amount of content are a fantastic fit for the system. I am pretty sure other versions of the game don’t suffer from the same minute performance issues this port struggles with when you turn on a lot of visual enhancements at once, but portability more than makes up for it. I might be playing Quake for the billionth time, but it’s still as fresh now as it was back in the day. And I can’t wait for a remaster of II and III Arena!

Graphics: 7.0

Lots of new post processing effects, filters and improvements to make Quake stand out for 2021 standards, but its performance does stutter depending on the amount of visual enhancements you turn on the pause menu.

Gameplay: 9.0

You may have to tinker the aiming sensitivity a bit on the pause menu, and maybe turn off the gyro aim assist depending on your playstyle, but Quake still plays like a dream in 2021.

Sound: 7.0

While both Aubrey Hodges’ and Nine Inch Nails’ soundtracks are featured in this version, they sound as compressed as they did back in the day.

Fun Factor: 10

Quake has aged like a fine wine in terms of gameplay. Having this game on-the-go, with visual enhancements, all previously released expansion packs, online multiplayer, and for just ten bucks, is a stroke of genius.

Final Verdict: 8.5

Quake is available now on an ungodly amount of consoles and computers… but the Night Dive version is now available on PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.