The Heretic Saga

Heretic (Dec 1994), Heretic: Shadow of the Serpent Riders (1996), OpenGL version (Jul 1999)

You are the only Sidhe surviver, the last memboer of an ancient race of heretical elves adept in arcane sorcery. Three Serpent Riders, gurdians of death everlasting, came as fortold by the prophecy of Armageddon. This trio of demons travel from world to world to spread chaos and despair. They subjgated the world’s seven great leaders by trickery and guile. When the seven great nations had been subverted, they were left to fight amonst themselves. D’Sparil, the youngest and the weakest of the Serpent Riders, was left behind to act as puppeteer. Now you search for D’Sparil for vengeance. Or die trying.

Raven Software licenced the Doom Engine from id Software to build Heretic. With a solid foundation, Raven Software added an inventory system (so you can carry items around and use them when you please), and new actions (fly, look up and down, water currents). The visuals are also better than Doom: jump into water and it splashes, kill a Gargole and its corpse blasts (instead of simply drops down).

Like Doom, you lose all your weapons and inventory items each time you switch episode. Actually, each episode is like a separate game selectable from the start. When you switch levels within an episode, you lose some of your inventory items. No matter how many identical items you possess, you can only keep one of them after the level switch.

The original game has only 3 episodes, with 9 levels (including one secret level) each. The free upgrade included 2 more levels, also with 9 levels each.

Heretic Useful links

Developer: Raven Software

Publisher: id Software

Game review available at Games Domain

Home page on id Software and Raven Games

Shareware version (episodes 1 only) from Home page above

FAQ available at Gamers.Org

Secret list for episodes 1 to 3 is available in the FAQ. Secret list for episodes 4 and 5 Ohio State University Usenet archive

jHeretic available at Doomsday HQ, supports OpenGL and DirectX.

Hexen (30 Oct 1995), Hexen: Deathkings of the Dark Citadel (1995), OpenGL version (Jul 1999)

Hexen is a sequel to Heretic.

While the lone Elf was battling the evil forces of D'Sparil, the other Serpent Riders were busy sowing the seeds of destruction in other dimensions. One such dimension is the decaying world named Cronos where Hexen takes place. On Cronos, all humanity bowed to the triumvirate of Legion, Church and Arcanum. However, Zedek, Traductus, and Menelkir, the leaders of these three intitutions, succumbed quickly to their promise of immortal life. They were turned into the unliving and stayed in Necropolis, protecting the Dark Crucible where Korax the second Serpent Rider reigned. Only three brave humans, Baratus of the Legion, Parius of the Church, and Daedolon of the Arcanum have escaped the vicious spell. Now these brave souls have sworn to find stronghold of Korax and restore order in the world.

This time, the newer Doom II Engine is used. Raven Software made frighteningly realistic graphics and bone chilling soundtrack. Better technologies enables earthquakes, crumbling bridges and fog. Objects could be pushed (and carried off by the wind). Walls move and ceilings crunches. Hexen also introduces the “magic corridors” — by using a pair of invisible teleport two spacially separated corridors are connected, thus partially bypassing the limitations of the Doom Engine.

You play in one of the 3 character classes, having different strength and weaknesses, different weapons and spells. You now have only 4 weapons for each class, down from the 7 weapons of Heretic, and 11 in Doom. The effects of the Wings of Wrath now lasts throughout the level, so you no longer have to worry about falling in mid-flight; the down side is, there are very few wings in the whole game. Another nice thing is that you won’t lose your weapons or inventory items like in Doom or Heretic. You collect and keep within wherever you go, from the first hub to the last.

There is a lot more emphasis on puzzles and traps than Doom or Hereitc. Another new thing is the ability to travel back and forth between worlds. For instance, level 2 is the hub to levels 3..7. Some actions you do in one level can affect another.

Because of the integration of levels connected by a hub, the whole episode looks like a big level while each level is only a sub-level with an definite objective. Therefore, the whole game becomes a game of five levels, and has a much better conherence than Doom, Quake, and even Heretic. You feel you are doing something with purpose instead of just aimlessly drifting from one level to the next. In the 5 episodes, you become more and more powerful, and meet more and more challanges.

Hexen95 is a Windows version of Hexen.

Deathkings has a separate IWAD containing addition levels and deathmatch levels.

Hexen Useful links

Developer: Raven Software

Publisher: GT Interactive

Game review available at Game Power

Home page on GT Games and Raven Games.

Demo version (levels 1 to 4 only) available from Home Page above.

FAQ, cheat and walkthrough available at The Adrenaline Vault

jHexen available at Doomsday HQ, supports OpenGL/DirectX, DS3D/EAX/A3D. Even more interesting, this Korax Mod uses the jHexen engine and has a whole list of RPG features like adjustable skills and an all-new spell system.

Hexen II: the Beginning of the End (Sep 1997), Portal of Praevus (Mar 1998) (link to Game Guide added 20 Aug 1999)

The story continues with Eidolon, the oldest and most power Serpent Rider, who has enslaved your beloved land of Thyrion. Thyrion consists of four continents: Blackmarsh, Mazaera, Thysis and Septimus. Four grim generals, called the Riders of the Apocalypse, carry out Eidolon's decrees upon the four continents. These riders are known as War, Famine, Pestilence and Death. You must destroy his minions on all four continents and then challenge Eidolon in his ebon stronghold.

In the mission pack Portal of Praevus, Praevus collected the soul spheres of the three serpant riders for his own evil purposes and you have to wipe him out. A fifth character class, Demoness, is added. The Demoness is the last creation of Eidolon, not yet fully grown when Eidolon was defeated. With the power to glide, she is going to take revenge on Praevus to liberate the soul spheres of the Serpant Riders.

Raven Software licenced the newer and much better Quake Engine from id Software to build Hexen II. While everything in Quake is in different shades of brown, games from Raven Software have vivid colors and Hexen 2 is no exception. The levels are beautifully rendered, except of course the clouds in the sky. There are four continents (because Quake has four dimensions) and each has a different theme (eg Egyptian), with a different atmosphere and different monsters.

Compared with Hexen, there are now four different player classes to choose from, much better puzzles and even better hubs. And for those who have been missing the Tomb of Power in Heretic, it is now back in Hexen II. Raven paid a lot of attention to the storyline in Hexen II. The background story in the Deed of Chronicles is more detailed than any before. Although each continent is technically divided into levels, you can hardly notice the level transitions. The whole continent is just a big level where you solve the puzzles and incidentally killing baddies on your way. The puzzles have much improved. You no longer have to pull nine meaningless switches scattered around different places. When you look for or collect something, you do it for a reasonable purpose in a believeable storyline. In short, Hexen II is as much an RPG as possible while remaining an action game. RPG gamers should be attracted to the game if they are not too opposed to action. RPG or action, I found Hexen II superior to Tomb Raider II, except that the lovely Lara isn't here.

Hexen II is a Windows game and requires Direct X3a. GLHexen is the OpenGL version for Hexen II with 3D hardware support and is included with Hexen II.

Hexen II Useful links (modified 20 Aug 1999)

Developer: Raven Software

Publisher: Activision

Read my Hexen II game guide!

Game review available at Adrenaline Vault; Game review for Portal of Praevus mission pack available at Adrenaline Vault

Home page on ID Software, Raven Software and Raven Games. Remember to get your latest patch (v1.11) from Activision before starting to play.

Demo version available at id Software

Official FAQ available at Raven Games

Cheat available at Adrenaline Vault

New: Walkthrough for Hexen II and Portal of Praevus available in my Hexen II Game Guide!

Heretic II (Dec 1998)

Heretic II is the other sequel to Heretic. While Hexen and Hexen II follow the Serpent Riders trilogy in different worlds, characters and timelines, Heretic II follow the journey of the Corvus the Sidhe Elf after his defeat of D'Sparil. Corvus gets back to his home only to discover his people dying of a plague, and so he starts his adventure. The mystery of the plague ties the whole story neatly together, and on every level you have clear objectives that progresses towards your ultimate goal.

Heretic II is based on the Quake II engine with a termendous step forward in terms of 3D realism. Heretic II requires DirectX 6.0 and support OpenGL 3D accelerator cards.

Heretic II is a third person perspective (3PP) game, while all other games based on Doom and Quake are First Person Shooting (FPS) games. FPS gamers used to think that one cannot become the character in 3PP, because you are not viewing from the eyes of the player. They needn't worry: the 3rd person view is a breath of fresh air. In Heretic II, 3PP actually focus more on the character and action. Because of the 3rd person POV, you can actually see Corvus, his armor, his magic shield, his action, the magic spells he is using. All of these are marvelous to see. And because the need for a wide-angle lens is dispensed with, you actually get a much better view of the beautifully rendered environments. The exciting combats Corvus is going to engage using his weapons and magic are magnificant scenes in themselves and are simply impossible for FPS games.

Corvus performs a variety of acrobatic maneuvers to start a mystery-laden adverture. He is more agile than Lara the Tomb Raider, and yet much easier to control. This gives the player a totally different playing experience. To put it mildly, Heretic II is one of the most addictive, intuitive, attractive, innovative and downright entertaining 3D shooters to date. In the current market of 3D shooter after 3D shooter, Heretic II is one helluva pleasant surprise.

Heretic II Useful links

Developer: Raven Software

Publisher: Activision

Go to the official home page: Activision to get the latest patch.

Game review on Adrenaline Vault

Everyting about Heretic II at HereticII.com: demo, FAQ, cheat, and others, hosted on Raven Games.

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