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Heretic: Shadow of the Serpent Riders is the expanded version of the original Heretic retail release with the addition of two new episodes. This gives Heretic: Shadow of the Serpent Riders a total of five episodes compared to the original Heretic's three episodes (and a single episode for the shareware release). Owners of the original Heretic are able to download a free patch which will update the game to the Shadow of the Serpent Riders' full five episodes.

Your world has been ravaged by the three Serpent Riders from the Abyss. Afterwards two of the Riders have left, while one, D'Sparil remains to oversee the oppression. It is your duty, as the Heretic, to destroy this demon.

Heretic is the first game in the Heretic/Hexen franchise. Here begins Raven's tradition of taking id's latest game engines, improving on them, and using them in a fantasy game.

For Heretic, the Doom engine was used. The Raven team enhanced the engine with the addition of an inventory system, the ability to look up and down, and the ability to fly, along with some lesser features such as powerful wind currents. Not counting the inventory, the core gameplay that made Doom such a hit remained the same.


Heretic: Shadow of the Serpent Riders DOS Firing the Hellstaff with the Tome of Power activated!
Heretic: Shadow of the Serpent Riders DOS The shotgun-- err, crossbow, will be one of your mainstay weapons.
Heretic: Shadow of the Serpent Riders DOS Title Screen
Heretic: Shadow of the Serpent Riders DOS Credits Screen

Promo Images

Heretic: Shadow of the Serpent Riders Screenshot
Heretic: Shadow of the Serpent Riders Screenshot
Heretic: Shadow of the Serpent Riders Screenshot
Heretic: Shadow of the Serpent Riders Screenshot

Part of the Following Groups

User Reviews

A lot more than “Doom with a medieval theme” DOS Gatekeeper (306)

Critic Reviews

Joystick (French) DOS Mar, 1995 91 out of 100 91
PC Multimedia & Entertainment DOS May 09, 1996 86 out of 100 86
PC Player (Denmark) DOS 1996 85 out of 100 85
PC Player (Brazil) DOS Jul, 1996 4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars 80
GameSpot DOS Jun 13, 1996 7.6 out of 10 76
The Retro Spirit DOS Dec 01, 2009 4.5 out of 6 75
Cubed3 DOS Aug 30, 2017 6 out of 10 60
Computer Games Magazine DOS Jun 13, 1996 3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars 60
PC Zone DOS Aug 13, 2001 5 out of 10 50


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Heretic had a little known feature that would let you see in true 3D perspective. If you ran Voiht.exe, it would let you use the I-glasses made by Vio technologies.


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.

German index

On July 29, 1995, Heretic: Shadow of the Serpent Riders was put on the infamous German index by the BPjS. For more information about what this means and to see a list of games sharing the same fate, take a look here: BPjS/BPjM indexed games.


  • The DOOM cheat codes IDKFA and IDDQD work in Heretic, sort of. If you type IDKFA (the all items cheat), the word "cheater" appears on the screen and you will find your inventory empty. Worse yet, just try to open up "God" mode with IDDQD. Your character is instantly pureed!
  • The design of the Sabreclaw enemy species is similar to the one of the Aliens from the Alien movie series.


The enemy Disciple of D'Sparil (the one who looks like a black priest or wizard) sometimes whispers strange incantations. These are actually English sentences played backwards:

WIZSIT - "Destroy the Heretic"

WIZACT - "Succumb to us, Heretic"

When facing the last boss, D'Sparil, he sometimes shouts demonic incantations. These are actually English sentences recorded backwards:

SORSIT - This sound is hard to understand, but some possible interpretations are "Now ravens shall chew your flesh" and "I will torture your flesh"

SORACT - "Surrender to D'Sparil"


Heretic is commonly noted as the first DOOM-enhanced engine to perform looking up and down, but truthfully none of the DOOM-enhanced engines can truly look up and down due to the nature of the engine. Technically, yes, it's "looking" up and down, but no tilting of the head is involved -- rather, the viewpoint of the player is raised and lowered, much like a periscope. This is also why, at extreme heights or lows, the perspective gets wildly distorted.


The weapons in Heretic: Shadow of the Serpent Riders are loosely based on weapons from DOOM. It uses the exact same system:

There are 2 melee-only weapons (the Staff and the Gauntlets of the Necromancer), which clearly resemble the Fist and Chainsaw from DOOM respectively. The Gauntlets even function exactly the same.

The Elven Wand behaves exactly like the Pistol from DOOM.

The Ethereal Crossbow works in a similar manner as the Shotgun from DOOM - some of its arrows (pellets for the Shotgun) fly in different directions, and only some of them hit the enemy, mostly.

The Dragon Claw works pretty similar to the Chaingun from DOOM. Another interesting fact about it, is that you can see three claws on the weapon, just like you can see three barrels of the Chaingun at a time (though the claws don't rotate).

The Hellstaff shoots particles very similar to the Plasma Gun from DOOM.

The Phoenix Rod works exactly like DOOM's Rocket Launcher - it is very powerful, and does splash damage, which can also harm the player.

The final weapon, the Firemace, however, doesn't behave like the BFG 9000 from DOOM in any way, although in the beta versions of DOOM, the way the BFG shoots is quite similar to the way the Firemace does.

Information also contributed by DarkDante, Medicine Man; Scott Monster, Xoleras and Zaghadka

Related Web Sites

  • Heretic: Shadow of the Serpent Riders (official website)
  • Raven-Games (This site is dedicated to older Raven Software games. Here you can get maps and mods for Heretic, including JHeretic and Koka's GLHeretic, the two best hardware accelerated Heretic upgrades in existence!)
Contributed to by Kalirion (667) and DarkDante (6182)