Great moments in PC gaming: Facing Chthon in Quake

Great moments in PC gaming are bite-sized celebrations of some of our favorite gaming memories.


Developer: id Software
Year: 1996

The first-person shooters of the 1990s were fast-paced, but Quake seemed faster than anything before it. Truly 3D levels, mouselook, a bouncy regular jump even if you weren't abusing rocket-jumps—it added up to a zippiness that felt powerful and new. 

Clever level design solved the Sonic problem of having areas full of secrets but a character who only feels good at top speed. There's often one particular key or something you need but there's also a convenient loop back through a section of the level so you can barrel around looking for things you missed, shooting suspicious patches of wall texture or swimming under bridges, during which you naturally find a secret or two before discovering that gold key or whatever.

When you hit a boss fight it still doesn't slow down. Chthon emerges from the lava and instead of standing in one spot shooting away at his health bar you keep moving, racing his fireballs to flip switches just like you do when looping through an ordinary level, only now you're lowering pylons into position then electrocuting the big jerkbag of an elder god.

There are plenty of other things about Quake to celebrate, like the soundtrack and the multiplayer and the mods, but let's not forget Chthon. Fighting him sets you up for the finale, which is another puzzle boss who can't be shot, and it's also a great capstone for the playstyle it's taught you.

And then at the end of the level when it's tallying your score and number of secrets you get to see Chthon's gibs squirting all over the screen. Quake knew what we wanted and it delivered. 

Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, Five Out of Ten Magazine, and, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.