Hexen: Beyond Heretic

aka: Heretic 2, Hexen, Hexen 95
Moby ID: 1938
DOS Specs
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Description official descriptions

Hexen is the sequel to Heretic. While the Heretic was destroying D'Sparil, the other two Serpent Riders have come to your dimension and slaughtered everyone. Or so they thought. Three humans have managed to escape with their lives and now seek vengeance against the Serpent Rider Korax who remains in their world.

Like Heretic, Hexen is a fantasy game based on an enhanced DOOM engine. All of Heretic's innovations like vertical looking, flying, and the inventory system have been carried over. The new major changes this time around are three characters for the player to choose from and the level hub system. The characters are the Fighter, the Cleric, and the Mage. Each one has four unique weapons and different levels of speed and armor.

The hub system steps away from the traditional "single levels stringed along into episodes" system which had been carried over into the FPS genre from sidescrollers and made popular by Wolfenstein 3D. In Hexen's hub system each episode is still made up of interconnected levels, but most of the levels are connected to a single "hub" level through portals. There are also portals between some of the "spoke" levels. Many of the puzzles in Hexen require travel back and forth between different levels.

Other innovations in Hexen include weather effects, jumping, earth-quakes, and destructible objects such as trees and vases. The game also includes scripted sequences created with a language called ACS, allowing for much more complex puzzles and dramatic scenes.

Spellings

  • ヘクセン - Japanese spelling (on the CD in the Japanese Sega Saturn release)

Groups +

Screenshots

Promos

Credits (DOS version)

19 People

Artists
Additional Artists
Programming
Level Design
Sound/Music
Project Director
Executive Producer
Engine Tools Programmer
3D Engine
Sound Drivers
Package Design by
  • The Richardson Group/R&D

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 74% (based on 46 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.7 out of 5 (based on 186 ratings with 7 reviews)

True to its name in many ways... frustrating, somewhat fun.

The Good
I've always thought that although id can make darn good engines, they can't seem to get the gameplay right themselves. For example, while I (still) dislike playing Doom, I (still) somewhat enjoy playing Heretic. Heretic, the game's prequel, was essentially the same game as Doom-- but with a medieval fantasy theme, more interesting weapons, more cleverly designed levels, and more atmospheric artwork.

HeXen is based off of the Doom II engine, essentially a very high-quality total conversion. But it's amazing seeing what this game can do and comparing it to either of the Doom games. The levels in this game are so well designed, you'll forget that they aren't truly 3d. Bridges that cross over dark chasms grumble and shake as you walk across them. Traps spring out from all sides. Ice falls away from underneath you as you walk on it. Leaves flutter off of trees. Glass flies in all directions when windows are shattered. Bells ring when you hit them. A plethora of atmospheric sounds play, unique to the varying locations of the game. Creatures freeze and then shatter when hit if they are bombarded with enough Ice Shards. The game's atmosphere is actually on par with the some much more recent titles, and that was truly hard to do at the time.

The game offers 3 classes to play instead of Heretic's sole player option; the Warrior, the Cleric, and the Mage. Each one has different armor, speed, health and magic, and each one requires a different playing style. The downside is obvious-- each class doesn’t get a full set of weaponry, and has to make do with a considerably smaller arsenal. This is quite okay, however, because the various items you can find throughout the game are all so interesting and powerful it really does seem like you're getting a full set of weaponry with each player. Many items act differently when used by the different classes; for examples, Flechettes can be hurled at enemies by the warrior, but when used by the mage they act as a time bomb.

HeXen is indeed beyond Heretic in all these aspects.

The Bad
The level design, while atmospheric, is insane.

Apparently the designers decided they needed puzzles in their levels. However, puzzles work best with things like hints or clues, or at least some kind of pointer to tell you what you need to do. But instead, you're thrown into absolute insanity-- single ‘hub’ level branches off to 7 others, each with hordes of doors, keys, and switches, and its crazymaking trying to decide what you even need to do next. Unless you either have extreme patience or are very good with these types of puzzles, it's unlikely you'll even be able to struggle to the end of the game. Even walkthroughs couldn't save my poor Mage.

HeXen is also beyond Heretic in level design-- it goes from interesting to insane. Myst is easier to solve!

The Bottom Line
HeXen proved 3 things, in my opinion:

1- The creators of all of the Doom games did not tax the engine(s) to its/their full potential, and if they had it could have been far better. 2- Action and RPG can merge quite well. 3- Poorly integrated puzzles can ruin even a very well made game.

I recommend buying this game if you can deal with the puzzles. Otherwise it's really not even worth the $5 you'd find it for in a bargain bin.

As a side-note to those who still play this game: Playing it with the Doomsday engine adds a whole 'nother level of enjoyability. Highly recommended if you enjoyed HeXen the first time.

DOS · by ShadowShrike (277) · 2003

Hexen is an excellent shooter that's just not for everyone.

The Good
Hexen begins it long list of innovations by introducing the character to 3 player classes, each drastically different, that they can play. Each class responds differently to enemy projectiles, has a different set of 4 weapons, and use subweapons called flechettes in different ways. Even for a game created in 1995, the graphics are convincing. Though playing the game in DOS is probably not an option for most players, Hexen lives on today mostly through several high quality sourceports/graphical enhancements, namely involving the Doomsday engine. The first thing you'll notice about Hexen is that the environment rocks. Few things are more pleasing than pulling out your big spiked gauntlet and smashing through a stained glass window - except perhaps pounding it through the skull of some of Hexen's more obnoxious beasts. Playing through Hexen is downright challenging. Modern gamers will want to play the game on the maximum difficulty setting to adjust for their ability to use mouselook. Despite only having 4 weapons per character, Hexen involves a good amount of strategy in choosing which weapons for which battle and how to best conserve ammo for them. Especially pleasing about Hexen are some of the more frightening monsters. Once you get to the second hub, you'll be wary to step in water, and for good reason. In that sludge water are some of the nastiest villains to grace a computer screen, Stalkers. You probably have nerves of steel if these suckers don't make you jump out of your chair at least once. Other creative entries into the (limited) bestiary are Centaurs, which are perhaps my favorite FPS baddie to date. Centaurs are pretty much just bad guys with swords. The catch is, they also have a shield that can block your melee attacks and reflect your ranged attacks right back at you! Hexen's network play is quite fun in cooperative. If you can find a friend with voice comm, then you'll really have a blast. Sometimes, putting two heads together is the most satisfying way to finish some of Hexen's "remember that switch 10 levels back) puzzles.

The Bad
The monster variety in Hexen is small. As you slowly chip away at Hexen you'll be fighting most of the same enemies over and over again. The first encounters with a new monster are generally interesting and fun, however, fighting their rehashed comrade for the 1000th may be entertaining, but it certainly isn't fresh. The puzzles in Hexen generally serve more to tick off the player than reward them for careful thought. Most people will want to bring a strategy guide into the mix. Those that don't should keep very, very careful progress of their map if they don't want to spend hours (yes, that's right, hours) hunting the one hidden switch that got away. Unless romping through empty hallways looking for switches is your favorite thing in the world, you're undoubtedly going to find some frustrating points in Hexen. The size of the game, oddly enough, doesn't work to it's advantage. I would guesstimate that 1 out of every 50 gamers who buy Hexen will actually manage to finish it - the fact is, Hexen is just too darned long for how tedious and repetitive it can become. Multiplayer matches are also very difficult to set up, even with the new source ports. The only way a friend and myself could set up a multiplayer match was through ZDoom and Doom Connector.

The Bottom Line
Hexen is comparable to Halo in terms of play. You move around with a limited arsenal in repetitive environments fighting the same old bad guys over and over - some people love the core gameplay so much that they'd give their souls for another hour of Halo. Some hate it. Download the demo of Hexen, and if you manage to want more after you finish it, treat yourself to the full version. If the demo doesn't suit your fancy, you won't find anything else for you in the full version.

DOS · by WJAndrews (32) · 2004

Enormous switch hunt in scary castles.

The Good
It's scary game - this vibe is achieved by gripping music and level design. You will walk in old, ruined castles, marshes, caves, chapels and other places. Sounds are wonderful - they're realistic and help building the vibes. Even Quake and Duke Nukem haven't such good ambient sounds as Hexen.

Most of Heretic's features are also present in Hexen - there's inventory (there are some new items, like Dark Servant, which summons Maulotaur to help you, however Tome of Power is absent), flying and looking up and down. Hexen also introduces jumping and scripting. So, there are earthquakes, falling bridges, and . Level design is also different - there is a "hub system", as in Quake 2 or Heretic 2.

Unlike Heretic, you can select one of three characters in the game. They have not only different look, they use completely different weapons! For example, Fighter uses weapons like axe or sword, when Mage has magical staffs. Also, multiplayer allows max. 8 players during gameplay.

The Bad
Puzzles are really difficult - In Doom and Heretic you found keys and switches in passing. Not here. You sometimes have to search for switch in four enormous levels only to reveal another switch in another level. And that switch lowers platform, there's a key on the switch, the key opens a door, behind a door there is another switch... and so on, and so on. Puzzles should be the same as in Heretic 2 - much easier and more enjoyable.

The Bottom Line
Well, if you're looking for more puzzle-oriented FPS, then Hexen is for you. Its creepy atmosphere and hordes of monsters to slay will keep you entertained.

DOS · by Sir Gofermajster (485) · 2009

[ View all 7 player reviews ]

Trivia

Controversy

The Steam download version of the game is listed as Windows platform because the executables are modified to use a DOSBox variant (v 0.70); additionally the traditional setup.exe is missing.

It is confirmed that neither Valve or id Software contacted the DOSBox project staff and initially the game didn't includes the TXT files that must be present under the GPL license (so they failed to fulfill 2 points of the GPL license).

Two days after the launch, there was an update that includes COPYING, AUTHORS and THANKS.txt of the DOSBox 0.71.

References

  • In the Necropolis, you can find graves that have the names of some of the authors written on them.
  • In the first HUB, "The Seven Portals" there is a secret level hidden. Once you're in it, you can find D'Sparil's (from the original Heretic) heart in there.
  • The villain's name, Korax, is derived from the scientific name of the common raven: corvus corax. This is an intentional joke as the game was developed by Raven Software.
  • The first place in the game where the Porkalator artifact can be found is on Hub 2: "Caves of Circe". Circe was a character in Greek mythology, who transformed Odysseus' crew into pigs.

References to the game

The final boss of Serious Sam: The Second Encounter, Mordekai The Summoner, carries a staff very similar to the Bloodscourge, the last weapon of the Mage class in Hexen: Beyond Heretic. It should also be noted that the enemy as a whole looks very similar to D'Sparil, the final boss of Heretic.

Speech

One of the demonic sounds that the enemy Dark Bishop sometimes utters, when played backwards, actually sounds like his name.

Title

In German, "hexen" means "witches", or "casting a spell" when used as a verb. Moreover, the game has a Warlock skill level - a warlock (or "hexenmeister") is the male version of a witch.

Version differences

The PlayStation version can be called notoriously evil for being one of the few games on the system to require one ENTIRE Memory Card (yes, all 15 blocks worth) to save just ONE save game!

Awards

  • EGM
    • 1998 Buyer's Guide - Games that Should've Stayed on the PC

Information also contributed by Dark Dante, Emepol, Macintrash, Medicine Man, Maw and Satoshi Kunsai

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Related Sites +

  • Doomsday HQ
    Home of jDoom, jHeretic, and jHexen. These are hardware accelerated ports of those games ( require original DOS versions to work). Useful to make the games prettier, extended multiplayer support, and to work perfectly on Windows Xp!
  • Raven-Games
    This site is dedicated to older Raven Software games. Here you can get maps and mods for Heretic, including JHexen and Koka's GLHexen, the two best hardware accelerated Hexen upgrades in existence!
  • This is not your world, mortal.
    official game pages at GT Interactive's website, preserved by the Wayback Machine
  • Wikipedia: Hexen: Beyond Heretic
    Information about Hexen: Beyond Heretic at Wikipedia

Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 1938
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Kalirion.

Windows added by Xantheous. SEGA Saturn, Macintosh added by Kabushi. Nintendo 64, PlayStation added by Grant McLellan.

Additional contributors: Xantheous, Emepol, Corn Popper, Alaka, Havoc Crow, Matthew Melbourne, DreinIX, Patrick Bregger, Verm --, MrFlibble.

Game added July 14, 2000. Last modified January 22, 2024.