HeXen: Beyond Heretic (PC) Review

By Athanasios 30.08.2017

Review for HeXen: Beyond Heretic on PC

Doom was a revolution - both in terms of gameplay and technical prowess. Just like any form of business or art, however, the world couldn't keep on doing the same thing (and with the same "tool") over and over again. Thus came a new form of Doom-clones; Doom-clones that, once more, relied on the same basic game engine, but also tried adding something new. While some may now get images of Duke Nukem 3D in their heads, no. It was Raven Software's newest creation that actually made the transition, and started feeling less like a clone, and more like a separate thing altogether. Its name? HeXen!

HeXen is part of the 'Serpent Raiders' saga, and thus, just like Heretic before it, the plot revolves around one of those nice demonic fellows, in this case Korax… who, like the protagonist of the former, is another play on Raven Software's name. Of course, all this is just a pile of bollocks! Just like almost every single Doom-clone, this is all about the gameplay, as the "story" is nothing more than a text wall that separates each world from the previous one.

Speaking of worlds, instead of simple stages that must be completed in a certain order, HeXen is divided between a couple of hubs, from where it's possible to enter a couple of separate levels, where key-items can be found, and thus, open the final "door" that leads to the next hub… and do the same all over again.

Screenshot for HeXen: Beyond Heretic on PC

Technically, it uses a marginally enhanced version of the Doom engine, and while HeXen looked really great when it came out, it doesn't look as good after all these years, mainly because, unlike the more "cartoony" visuals of Doom and Heretic, the sprites, special weather effects, and, generally, all the fancy stuff offered here, are much more detailed, and as such, are in a big need of a much larger resolution to show that off.

It's hard to deny that the dark, oppressive atmosphere that this has is quite good, though, something that has to do both with the purposely dull palette used, as well as the top-notch sound effects coming both from the hands of your heroes, as well as the throats of the monsters dwelling on this dark and murky, medieval fantasy land. Yes, for all its flaws, HeXen looks cool… it's the gameplay where the real issues begin to show up.

Screenshot for HeXen: Beyond Heretic on PC

There are three hero classes to choose from this time around. There's a warrior whose bicep-fuelled punches are almost as lethal as his hammer, a wizard whose hands (and weapons) throw fire, ice, and even flesh-eating ghosts, and a paladin who is somewhere between those two. Additionally, like with Heretic, there are tons of consumables, ranging from gas bombs, healing vials, and flying spells, to summoned beasts and magic that enhances the way weaponry behaves.

Furthermore, the inhabitants of this world turn out to be a lot more lethal, almost as if they are an evolution of the monsters from the previous foray into the Serpent Riders saga, with the perfect example being the mini-boss Heresiarch - an insanely cool, beastly sorcerer, who makes the final boss from Heretic look like its beta version… after all, he was initially the one planned to be the final head honcho.

Screenshot for HeXen: Beyond Heretic on PC

Awesome, right? Well, unfortunately the fighting section feels nothing more than squatting mosquitos, because, while certainly challenging, the enemies aren't the main part of the show, as HeXen is basically a pretty long key/button/switch search - something that would be acceptable if the level design wasn't so atrociously irritating, with key locations feeling like secret areas, tons of key-items to find, and an insane amount of backtracking just to find a lever to pull.

The worst thing, however, is the feedback… or lack of. Upon pressing a random button, the best thing that can happen is a brief message that says something like "A portal has opened up in the castle," leading to even more boring and pointless "exploration." Quite often, though, when the player pushes a button or finds a key, about 10 or more minutes must be spent in searching all over the place to find what to do next. HeXen is basically a walking simulator with demons to kill…

Screenshot for HeXen: Beyond Heretic on PC

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

HeXen throws away the "simplistic," run-and-gun gameplay of Heretic… for something that's actually more simplistic! It does try to imbue some RPG elements to the old-school FPS recipe, but in reality, it's nothing more than a gargantuan key-item search - and not even a good one at that.

Developer

Raven Software

Publisher

id Software

Genre

First Person Shooter

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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