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Overview

Hexen (sometimes known as HeXen: Beyond Heretic) is a fantasy first-person shooter developed by Raven and published by id on October 30, 1995 for the PC. It is the second game in the Serpent Riders trilogy (between Heretic and Hexen II). The story takes place in the realm of Cronos, which was overtaken by the Serpent Rider Korax. The player controls one of three heroes ( Baratus the Fighter, Parias the Cleric, or Daedolon the Mage) as they set out to destroy Korax.

The game builds upon the same engine used in Heretic (which uses a heavily-modified id Tech 1, the same engine used in Doom). In addition to the modifications found in Heretic, Hexen also includes jumping, multiple classes, rotating/moveable walls, weather effects, a level scripting system, CD audio, FMV cutscenes (for the CD version only), eight player multiplayer, and a system of interconnected levels (called "hubs"). The source code for this engine was released twice: one in 1999 under a restrictive license and one in 2008 under the GNU General Public License.

The game was published for the Mac in 1996 by GT Interactive (who also oversaw distribution of the PC version). In early 1997, the game was ported to the Nintendo 64, PlayStation, and Sega Saturn (all which were published by GT Interactive). The Nintendo 64 version, ported by Software Creations, includes split-screen multi-player ( for up to four players) and text narratives in the loading screens of each level (describing each level). The PlayStation and Sega Saturn versions were ported by Probe, and includes graphical restrictions (less detailed architecture, less monster sprites, etc.) and lower frame rate. The PlayStation version does not support multi-player, while the Sega Saturn version includes two-player link-up multiplayer only accessible via a hidden cheat code.

Characters

Hexen was one of the first first-person shooters to let the player choose between one of three unique classes, each with their own unique attributes, weapons, and item effects.

Fighter

Tougher and more agile than the other classes, the fighter specializes in melee combat. His only weakness is his lack of ranged attacks.

  • Spiked Gauntlets - The fighter's starting weapon. Deals three powerful punches in quick succession at very close range.
  • Timon's Axe - Its power and effectiveness is determined by how much blue mana you have. Although you do not need blue mana to swing the weapon, blue mana is required for a powerful electric swing.
  • Hammer of Retribution - On close range, it's slow and does great damage. But if you have green mana, the hammer can fire an exploding projectile, making it an ideal long-range weapon for the class.
  • Quietus - A big sword surrounded by green flames. Throws five green fireballs across the screen in a single swing. Uses up both green and blue mana and cannot be used like a melee weapon.

Cleric

Despite the class name, the cleric does not heal others. A balanced character with a lot of specialized weapons.

  • Mace of Contrition - Although it is less powerful than the fighter's spiked gauntlets, this mace has a longer range.
  • Serpent Staff - Uses blue mana for two purposes. At long range, it fires two green fireballs in a wave that, while weak, deals poisonous damage. At short range, it drains the health of the opponent, healing you in the process.
  • Firestorm - Uses green mana to shoot a streak of fire from your hands across a set distance, causing explosion damage in the process.
  • Wraithverge - Uses both blue and green mana to fire a gray cloud that immediately splits into four powerful ghosts. Shrieking, these fast ghosts lock in to enemies and drain a lot of damage before moving on to the next enemy. (Or disappearing once the attack is over)

Mage

Weak and slow, the mage specializes in powerful long-range weapons.

  • Sapphire Wand - Similar to the starting weapon in Heretic, this wand fires weak (but fast) energy blasts. It has infinite ammo, even though it's a long-range weapon.
  • Frost Shards - Uses blue mana to fire a blast of ice shards in a diamond formation from your hand. When the enemy dies from it, it freezes and then shatters.
  • Arc of Death - Uses green mana to fire a powerful bolt of electricity from your hand. The bolt follows a straight path along both the floor and the ceiling, over cliff sides and under arches before reaching an enemy, dealing electrical damage to that enemy.
  • Bloodscourge - Uses both blue and green mana to fire three incredibly powerful fireballs.

Gameplay

Hexen splits the levels into five key episodes, also known as "hubs." Each episode requires you to solve a very large puzzle.

  • Seven Portals - After completing the prologue level (Winnowing Hall), players must venture through the guardians of Fire, Ice, and Steel to open all seven gates.

  • Shadow Wood - Players must access a temple by finding the right keys in the Darkmere swamp, the rocky Wastelands, and the Caves of Circe. At the end, you must fight the Death Wyvern.

  • Heresiarch's Seminary - Players must find gems in the Silent Refectory and the Orchard of Lamentations and place them in an astrological chart, then solve the puzzles of the Wolf, Dragon, and Griffin chapels. After solving these puzzles, you fight the first Heresiarch.

  • Castle of Grief - Players must repair a big clock by finding gears scattered across the castle. After getting the clock to work, you must solve a string of puzzles to reach a key to fight the second Heresiarch.

  • Necropolis - Players must travel to the tombs of their former masters (brought back from the dead by Korax) and kill them. After that, you must travel to the Dark Crucible to face the final battle with Korax.

Timon's Axe, Serpent Staff and Frozen Shards are first found in the Seven Portals episode. Hammer of Retribution, Firestorm, and Arc of Death are first found in the Shadow Wood episode. Quietus, Wraithverge, and Bloodscourge require three components scattered throughout the game. The first component is found in the Seven Portals, the second component is found in the Shadow Wood episode, the third component is found in the Heresiarch's Seminary episode, and all three components can be found in the secret level of the Castle of Grief episode.

The game also supports multiplayer in both co-operative and deathmatch settings for up to eight players. Some weapons, such as the Wraithverge, have been nerfed to keep deathmatch balanced.

Deathkings of the Dark Citadel

Box art for Deathkings of the Dark Citadel

Hexen received one official expansion pack, named Deathkings of the Dark Citadel. Requiring the original Hexen to play, it added 20 new levels, split into three hubs, with new puzzles. It also featured six new deathmatch levels. The hubs include:

  • Blight
  • Constable's Gate
  • Nave

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