Stupid scientists. They opened a slipgate and other-worldy monsters have leapt through, using their death squads to take over military bases. As the lone survivor you have to return the favour — clearing those facilities and then taking the plunge through the veil, ending your journey with a battle to the death against the arch-fiend himself, Quake Flash!
Or something like that. When id Software created Quake back in 1996, they were not big on story. Much like the previous first person shooters they created — Wolfenstein and Doom — id made a kick-ass game and worried about the raison d'etre afterwards, usually settling for anything that could fit on a cocktail napkin (presumably after a few cocktails). The more astute reader will note that Quake's storyline is pretty much the same as Doom: someone opens a portal, nasty stuff stream in, single soldier has to fight back. The most astute reader will note that you don't even fight anything called 'Quake' in the game. But back in the 90s (and, for that matter, most of gaming's history), the WHY did not matter as much as the HOW. Shoot these things? Sure. No explanation required.
Before kicking into this, let's ask a question: who here, thanks to a misspent youth playing the original game, knows what Quake is? You? Well, a programmer named Michael Rennie ported it into Flash. Yeah, I can't believe it either. Quake! In Flash! You're excused, here it is, go have fun.
Now, for the uninitiated... Quake. There are two possible reasons why you don't know this game. You either spent the middle 90s involved in more wholesome activities than playing games (like Grunge and Winona Ryder movies) or you were too young to know anything about it. Quake was an amalgamation of "what's cool?" ideas. Cthulhu monsters? Cool. Zombies? Cool. Gloomy gothic decor? Cool. Rottweilers? Cool. Nailguns and a soundtrack by Trent "Nine Inch Nails" Reznor? Cool. And while many games have mashed up various interesting concepts to make weird experiences, Quake isn't just a game, it's a pedigree, one whose bloodline remains strong through today.
Analysis: It seems unfair to criticize the game, because that would be akin to writing a critique of the Mona Lisa recreated in condiments. The mere act alone justifies the need to experience this game. That said, Quake Flash is 100% vanilla Quake in all of its glory. You can experience the entire first chapter (released for free as shareware back in '96). Even the cheat codes still work. Unfortunately the multiplayer does not, but if it did and I could co-op the game online with friends, I'd have probably lost my mind.
The experience is as visceral as ever, though that might be my nostalgia talking. The game has indeed aged a lot and it is easy to denounce id's ability to use more shades of brown than what was thought possible. Yes, Quake is not a colourful game, but all things considered it has aged pretty well. You still twitch when you hear a landing grenade's hollow metal sound nearby, lock 'n load the grenade launcher when a zombie moans and few things are as intimidating as a fiend leaping towards you. None, of course, quite beat the moment when you realise you are stuck in a small area with the Shambler, a towering white beast with a knack for shooting electricity (when it's not simply mauling you with its claws).
The move to Flash did make for one unfortunate change: the mouse only works by holding in the left-button, relegating the fire action to the Control button. This is a shortfall of Flash itself, not the game, and establishes the one stumbling block between seeing more first person shooters appear in Alchemy, but still counts as a pretty big one. At times you lose sideways movement because the mouse has strafed too far off the screen — this does not happen often, but is hardly what you want when you are facing off against a Shambler's lightning or dodging grenades from an ogre.
But that might make you miss the point: Quake has arrived in Flash. In my non-technical mind, at least, this makes it possible to port nearly any game made before the advent of hardware-accelerated 3D to browsers and shows that there is a lot more potential hidden in Alchemy than most of us might think.