Heretic is a game lost in the glut of first person shooters that flooded the video game market in the early 1990s. It looks and feels like Doom, and its lack of originality probably prevented it from becoming the next big thing in video gaming.
The action in Heretic is sometimes very exciting and sometimes very boring. When groups of demons and monsters attack, your pulse will pound. When you get lost and explore the same dark cavern several times, you get bored. Although games like Heretic are classified as shooters, they are really about exploration. So, if you need constant action, Heretic may not be your game.
Visually, Heretic looks great. The developers at Raven did a good job at tweaking the Doom engine. Heretic is an enhanced version of Doom set in the distant past instead of the distant future. The 3-D graphics are excellent, and the new points of view really enhance game play.
Sound is good, but not great. The soft background music draws you into the game, but there is an aural overload during monster attacks. The sounds of the hero grunting in pain combined with the sounds of the weapon firing can be distracting and annoying. Still, this is not a big drawback.
Heretic is definitely the kind of game that you can spend many hours playing without realizing it. The enjoyment level is really high when you are doing well and drops slightly when you get lost in a maze of caverns. Heretic challenges your brain to figure out each level. If you don't, you feel like a loser. There is almost the perfect combination of intensity and inaction. The final showdown with the evil master is amazingly tough, so save your game often.
Replay value is high, because there are so many hidden passages to explore, and because few players will achieve success in one or two game sessions. The game-saving feature is one you will want to use often, unless you are a masochist.
Overall, Heretic is a simply a tweaking of Doom. If you like 3-D shooters, then you will like Heretic.
Graphics: Good graphics from the Doom engine.
Sound: Sound is annoying at times, but it is usually good.
Enjoyment: The game is fun and intense at times, and slow and borign at others.
Replay Value: Replay value is high, because there are many hidden treasures.
The world has been attacked by the three Serpent Riders from the Abyss. Their mysterious power makes people obey and follow them like sheep. Only the ancient Sidhe elves are immune to the Riders' influence, which led to them being branded heretics. With most of their work done, the two elder Riders leave, leaving only D'Sparil, the youngest and weakest Rider, behind to oversee the oppression. He sends the armies of the Seven Kings against the Sidhe, who have no choice but to extinguish the Seven Candles, vanquishing the armies. The retribution is swift and hard, and most of the elves are destroyed. Now, one of the last remaining Sidhe must take the fight to D'Sparil himself, being the only hope his world has left.
Heretic is the first game in the Heretic / Hexen franchise. It uses the engine from id Software's DOOM and transplants that game's first person shooter gameplay into a fantasy setting.
Like DOOM, Heretic consists of three distinct episodes, playable in any order, the first being available as shareware. The hunt for D'Sparil begins in the City of the Damned, continues in the alternate dimension of the Hell's Maw and comes to an end in The Dome of D'Sparil. Every episode consists of nine levels, one of them a hidden one. The goal in each level is to find the exit, killing everything standing in one's way. Keys must be found and buttons pressed to advance. Enemies include gargoyles, golems, undead knights, sorcerers, ophidian beasts and more. Most enemies exist in several varieties: some have additional range attacks, others have ghost forms and are impervious to certain weapons.
The weapon arsenal is large and varied: the basic weapons are a wooden staff and the Elvenwand that shoots low-damage magic bullets. More powerful equipment must be found: the Ethereal Crossbow dispenses a spread of arrows doing high damage, but at a low firing rate. The Dragon's Claw and Hellstaff shoot with a higher frequency: the Claw hits enemies instantly, the Staff's energy bullets need to travel to them first. The Phoenix Rod fires explosive charges and must be handled with care. The Firemace unleashes steel metal projectiles that bounce across the room towards the enemy. A better melee weapon than the wooden staff are the Gauntlets of the Necromancer, which dispense deadly energy.
Heretic goes beyond DOOM in certain aspects. The engine has been enhanced with the ability to look up and down and the ability to fly, and wind currents pushing the player in (often unwanted) directions have been added. Also new is an inventory system. Many different power-ups can be collected and then be used at the correct time. These include health flasks, invisibility and invincibility upgrades, time bombs, and torches to light dark rooms. The Morph Ovum transforms enemies into chickens for easier dispatching, the Wings of Wrath allow one to fly, and the Tome of Power gives all weapons a substantial upgrade: projectiles become more powerful or split up upon impact; the Phoenix Rod becomes a flamethrower and the Gauntlets remove life force from an enemy and transfer it to the player.
Heretic includes the same multiplayer options as DOOM: both cooperative team play and competitive deathmatch are included.
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