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Hexen: Beyond Heretic (or Hexen) is a first-person shooter computer game developed by Raven Software, published by id Software, and distributed by GT Interactive beginning on October 30, 1995. It is the sequel to Heretic. The main goal of the game is the destruction of Korax, the second of a trio of demon brothers known as the Serpent Riders, who has taken over the world of Cronos. The first Serpent Rider, D'Sparil, was the final boss of Heretic and the third, Eidolon, would later appear in Hexen II.
Hexen uses a modified version of the Doom engine, which allows (like in Heretic) up and down views, network play with up to 8 players and the choice of three character classes. It also popularized the "hub system" of level progression in the genre of first-person shooter games and featured some architectural elements that could move horizontally or rotate. Unlike previous games, which had relied purely on MIDI for music, Hexen could also play tracks from audio CD. Hexen extended the Doom engine in many innovative ways: larger levels, some doors that opened three-dimensionally, pulsating lights, triggered sounds, and so forth.
An expansion pack for Hexen was released in 1996, called Deathkings of the Dark Citadel. Heretic, Hexen, and its expansion pack were later included in a compilation called Towers of Darkness: Heretic, Hexen and Beyond. The game was ported to the PlayStation, Sega Saturn and Nintendo 64 consoles.
Heretic chronicled the adventures of Corvus, a heroic Sidhe elf who challenged the forces of D'Sparil, the weakest of the three dimension-traveling Serpent Riders. His victory was hardly insignificant, but the other two Serpent Riders were far from idle and continued sowing the seeds of destruction in several other dimensions for a thousand years1. One such dimension is Cronos, the world of Hexen: a human world, but one where the forces of magic are both stronger and more strictly controlled than those of the Elven world.
Over the years, the humans have learned that while magic can be a powerful tool, it also has more destructive potential than any other force in their universe. From this harsh realization a disciplined and orderly society has developed, one where every citizen knows his place and where the vast majority of common men are held in thrall to a few ruthless, powerful leaders. Wielding magical powers and arcane artifacts, these men overshadow every other human force on Cronos, suppressing individual thought and action in the name of the greater good.
Within this strict order, three organizations maintain the fabric of human society: the Legion, the Arcanum, and the Church. In an uneasy balance often threatened by petty squabbles and escalating power struggles, these three organizations share absolute dominion over all humanity. The Legion represents human military strength, using brute force backed by magical weapons to impose a strict and inflexible order upon the populace. The Arcanum is the center of learning for all magical studies, and as such it determines who will or will not have access to its wealth of arcane secrets. The Church acts as a bridge and buffer between the Legion and Arcanum, using a mixture of magic and military training to maintain the balance of power while secretly furthering its own interests. Together or separately, these three groups control every aspect of human life.
Each organization is led by a single man. Zedek, Marshal of the Legion; Traductus, Grand Patriarch of the Church; and Menelkir, Arch-Mage of the Arcanum. These men are the ultimate embodiment of power on Cronos. Cold, calculating, and devoid of concern for anything but the advancement of their own status, these leaders were the first to fall under the sway of Korax, the second of the three Serpent Riders. In return for their allegiance, Zedek, Traductus, and Menelkir were rewarded by Korax with the dark gift of Unlife. Using the powers granted them by Korax as well as the relics already in their possession, all of humanity quickly fell under their spell.
Only three humans escaped the aegis of the leaders new powers: Baratus, a Warrior of the Legion; Daedolon, a Mage of the Arcanum; and Parias, a Cleric of the Church. Now these three have sworn to destroy the leaders they once followed and anything else that gets in the way as they execute their task. Entering the mystical portal used their world, the three become hopelessly separated, forcing each of them to attempt on their own that which of they had little hope doing together: find Korax´s stronghold, defeat his legions of grotesque minions, and finally kill the Serpent Rider himself.
Their task will be a difficult one indeed. It is well-known that Korax´s special powers stem from his control of the Chaos Sphere, which he uses to warp and corrupt everyone and everything he touches. Though not the mightiest of the Serpent Riders, Korax is more powerful than D'Sparil was, and his lust for power is matched only by his hatred for all living things not under his control.
The three playable characters are Baratus, a Fighter; Parias, a Cleric; and Daedolon, a Mage.
Each character has four weapons and uses the two types of mana as ammunitions. The first weapon does not use mana, the second uses Blue Mana, the third uses Green Mana, and the ultimate weapon, which is built by finding three different parts, uses both types.
- The Fighter has weapons that are best used at striking range. This combined with his high strength, stamina, and life make him easy to power through the beginning of the game but more challenging later in the game. The Fighter's ultimate weapon is the Quietus, a green longsword that can send out a spread of magic.
- The Cleric is well rounded and has a diverse selection of weapons, and decent armouring and speed. He is a good compromise between power and magic. The Cleric's ultimate weapon is the Wraithverge, a crucifix-shaped staff that can tear apart enemies with a ghostly horde.
- The Mage has long distance projectile magic, which, though weak, can keep him away from attackers and allow him to snipe enemies. Until later in the game, when flying capabilities and other spells have been collected, the mage is comparatively weak. The Mage's ultimate weapon is the Bloodscourge, a skull-topped staff that can send out homing fireballs.
Enemies, Weapons, ItemsEdit
- Hub 1: Seven Portals
- Hub 2: Shadow Wood
- Hub 3: Heresiarch's Seminary
- Hub 4: Castle of Grief
- Hub 5: Necropolis
Source Code Release Edit
On January 11, 1999, the source code for both Heretic and Hexen was released by Raven Software under a restrictive EULA  which prohibited many uses of the code, and was incompatible with the GNU GPL. This rendered it impossible to create a properly open source source port (under the Open Source Definition) for either game. On September 4, 2008, the source code for both games was rereleased under the GPL .
- "Hexen" is the German word for "witches," also meaning "casting a spell" when used as a verb. Moreover, the game has a "warlock" skill level, and warlock is the male version of a witch (called a "Hexenmeister").
- v1.0 of Hexen contains an incomplete level called "Maze" that consists solely of moving walls with no exit. Its presence in the released game is almost certainly an oversight; the level was removed in the 1.1 update. The "Maze" level can only be accessed by using the cheat code "visit41" in unpatched versions of the game.
- In v1.0, it was possible to leave the Castle of Grief hub early. First, the player would simply turn into a pig with a projectile trap that surrounds one of the clock gears. If the player gets under the space in the river leading to the Effluvium portal, the player can simply go to Forsaken Outpost, back to Effluvium, and then Gibbet. This makes the Axe key accessible, and practically the entire hub can be bypassed. This was an oversight by the designers, and was remedied in v1.1.
- The first place in the game where a player may collect the Porkalator artifact is on Hub 2: Caves of Circe. Circe was a character in Greek mythology commonly known for transforming men into pigs.
- The MAPINFO lump contains the names of several levels presumably used during the development of the game. Though the levels themselves are not in the game IWAD (with the exception of "Maze" listed above in Version 1.0 of the IWAD) the names and MAPINFO data for them (mostly only sky info, but a few have more such as fog and warptrans parameters) still exist. They are as follows:
- Shadow Wood (MAP07, likely a beta version of Hub 2: Shadow Wood (map))
- Swamp Demo (MAP14, likely an early version of Hub 2: Darkmere)
- Nada (MAP29)
- Maze (MAP41, and the only map to actually show up in Version 1.0 of the IWAD, removed for version 1.1)
- Eric's Whirlwind O' Death (MAP42)
- Maya (MAP43)
- The Badlands (MAP50, likely an early version of Hub 2: Wastelands)
- Caves of Ascension (MAP51, likely an early version of Hub 2: Caves of Circe)
- Lower Crypts (MAP52, likely an early version of Hub 2: Sacred Grove)
- The Hypostyle Hall (MAP53, likely an early version of Hub 2: Hypostyle)
- The Sanctorium (MAP54)
- The Athenaeum (MAP55)
- The Cleric's Citadel (MAP56)
- Programmer Map (MAP60)
- Bgokey (MAP90)
- Paul Map (MAP92)
- Paul Map2 (MAP93)
- firstname.lastname@example.org (MAP95)
- Sound Development Map (MAP96)
- The bosses Zedek, Traductus and Menelkir use the same sprites as the player characters.
- 1. ^ Timeline from the Heretic II FAQ.
- 2. ^ There is also a prologue map (Winnowing Hall) and an epilogue map (Dark Crucible), which are actually part of the first and last hubs, respectively, but due to the game architecture they can only be entered once.