Two weeks ago, we tackled a shooter known as Heretic, a fantasy-based FPS from the Doom era. Today, we’re going to look a little further ahead to the release of HeXen: Beyond Heretic. While Heretic was little more than a reskinned Doom, HeXen stepped up its game to really forge an identity of its own.
There are three classes to play as in HeXen; Cleric, Warrior, and Mage. Each class has a different specialty (Mixed, close range, and long range respectively), so there’s a style for everyone. Each class also has different weapons, with a super weapon to round everything out. So players will likely find themselves replaying HeXen again and again as different classes with different weapons to get a whole new experience.
The weapons themselves are nothing short of fantastic, with all twelve of them being unique in both how they handle and their design. The fourth weapon for each class must be assembled over the course of HeXen, giving you a good reason to want to search everywhere. Trust me, they’re worth it, because once you get your hands on them the only thing that can stand in your way is a lack of ammo.
Instead of going straight from level to level, levels in HeXen are broken up by hub worlds, much like those you would find in a 3D platformer like Banjo-Kazooie or Super Mario 64. While it is a creative idea, I have to admit that I like the standard style of levels better. Sometimes it’s just too confusing on where to go and what to do, and it can really detract from the experience if you have to spend thirty minutes hopping from level to level to find the right location to use a key or to find out what a switch activates.
Like a lot of shooters of the era, HeXen has a brutal difficulty. Even early-game enemies can easily chip away at your health, and some of the most default mooks can actually reflect your attacks back at you! However, the difficulty certainly is welcome, and outside of a certain area in a graveyard, the game never gets too difficult to become unfair and frustrating.
Overall, I can safely say HeXen is a worthy purchase. The variety is nice, the difficulty is brutal, and the weapons are unique and satisfying. It’s a glorious, glorious shooter, and much more adventurous than it’s predecessor. However, for some shooter fans, it may stray too far off the beaten path to be enjoyable.