Monday, 12 July 2021

Hexen: Beyond Heretic - I Cast "Bugger Off!"

There are some among us who can remember those good old days of video gaming when all you had were the video game cartridges and/or CD's you could hold in your hands. These were the days when first person shooters were in beautiful bloom and experimentation was bringing about new and exciting discoveries in graphics and video gaming technology. One of these experiments led John Romero into assisting a team with the Doom Engine. Raven Software used this engine to create a fantasy game that had all of the bells and whistles one could ever ask for to quench their thirst for swords and sorcery. 

When we were kids and didn't care all that much about beating games as fast as possible, this game gave us what we wanted. We could use our axes and staffs to drive the evil forces to an early grave. Now that we are adults and the kids are far more focused on getting through levels and killing monsters at a fast pace and with furious efficiency. If you are looking for a game that will challenge you, Hexen with either be your dream come true, or the greatest nightmare you ever had. 

At first glance, the graphics look stellar on the Sega Saturn. The frame rate isn't great and the pixelation on the monsters is noticeable, but overall it is a fantastic port. The controls take two seconds to get use to before you are ripping two-headed beasts apart in a gothic medieval setting. this game is gorgeous when it comes to its monster designs and atmosphere. The setting is pristine in its depiction of a medieval world that you can get lost in.

Oh, I'm sorry, did I say lost? Yes, yes, I did. If you have never played this game before and you are not watching a walkthrough, you will get lost. It's not so much a problem as finding a path, but it is a matter of finding a path, finding the switch and then finding the new path that switch opens up. Sometimes this path can be in a whole other planar dimension. So you need to hit a switch, go through a portal and try and find where a door opened. This is probably one of the most maddening parts of the game. 

Despite how they feel at the beginning, the weapons are utterly shite! This is a subjective view but it is also very valid when you are shooting monsters five or six times each while eight other monsters are chasing you around an entire map. Some people like these weapons, but some of them are slow while others are inaccurate. The real problem with the majority of these weapons is that they do not do near enough damage to get the proper job done. 

So, with the extremely confusing level design and the weapons that barely scratch, you may be thinking this is the challenge for you. Yes, if you are willing to take down flying monsters that sometimes you can't even shoot properly, then you are barking up the proper tree. Just be sure you have a ranged weapon and ammo, those fiery little bastards are a pain.

One very interesting aspect of this game is that you are able to choose between a Fighter, Cleric or a Mage. Each of them is different, and they all have their gimmicks and faults. I don't want to set any of them apart from the others, but do not play the Mage. His weapons are ineffectual and playing this class is just an all around abysmal experience. The fighter has the strongest weapons but he also doesn't have ranged attacks at first. It takes a lot of trial and error to find the class that is right for you. 

This game is the text book example of a mixed bag. It is fun and satisfying to play, but too much of this game at one time can be a convoluted and confusing experience. The real problem with saving and coming back to the game, and you run the risk of forgetting what was going on and what switches or pushed to get to what door and sometimes it's not really worth dwelling over. It's a terrible feeling when you're in the dead center of a game you decide to start all over. It is a cross this video game needs to bear. 

Imagine playing this game without a walkthrough of any kind. You could buy the game but you couldn't afford the game guide until next paycheck. Either that or your parents say it's either for Christmas or Birthday respectively. Pouring endless hours of bloodshed and madness into this game sounds like it would be fun, but it is rather bewildering. Do not start this game lightly if you intend to beat it. Just remember to drink those little vials of blue liquid. I think they're water.

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