Review by AJ507
"Classic gaming at its finest."
Hexen is a classic FPS game with a medieval fantasy setting. It was released in 1997, so it's pretty old, but that doesn't take away from its greatness, that's for sure. I first came across this game as a demo many years ago, but never actually got to play the full game until recently. Having just finished it, here's my review:
The gameplay here is very basic, but fun. Most of what you do in this game involves killing monsters, which range from fireball breathing walking serpents, to evil shield holding centaurs and fire breathing giant bats. Not to mention Ice Giants and some impressive bosses. Anyway, you do the killing using weapons, which vary depending on what class you choose from the three available. Each class has four weapons unique to that class only, so no two classes will have the same weapons. These classes consist of a warrior who mainly uses melee weapons like axes, hammers, and swords. A Wizard, who mainly uses magic staffs and offensive magic spells which he shoots out of his bare hands. And a cleric, who is something like a mixture of both, as he uses both melee and staff weapons, and also has the ability to heal himself and shoot magic out of his hands. They're all very fun to play, but personally I liked warrior the best. Nothing beats running around with glowing axes and fiery swords and just busting in and killing anyone who opposes you. It never gets old, and all the weapons look really cool, and that's even when you aren't firing them (they look even cooler when you do).
The game requires you to solve puzzles, which basically means you have to hit the right switches and find keys. It's not really what I'd call puzzle solving, but that's what it's called in-game. Only problem here is that the keys and switches can be very hard to find, and you'll find yourself getting stuck often if you aren't super good at exploring every nook and cranny and finding hidden doors. Also you go through what they call "hubs", so you enter, say, the swamp through a portal, you hit a switch there, then you get a message telling you a door in the canyons has opened. So then you go through a portal and on to the canyons to see what changed and get on with the level.
The graphics in this game are great. Sure it's an old game, and they are very dated and mostly 2D, but they are still very fun to look at, and are pretty good for the game's time. The game's levels and baddies are all perfect for the game, and they give it the unique atmosphere it's known for. It is set in a fantasy setting, so you'll find yourself going through areas like forests, canyons, swamps, ice caves, and that sort of thing. It's very comfortable, and though you have to do a lot of exploring, it's not so bad in a world like the one this game is set in.
Also it's worth mentioning that the game has some nice gore to it. It's very satisfying watching your enemies explode, and with the right enhancement packs, you can have blood shoot in all directions and splatter on the floor and walls. It is...very...satisfying.
The sound in this game is *perfect*. I would like to say that I played the game with absolutely no music on. It is mostly quiet, but you do frequently hear the groans and growls of monsters around the area. The quietness adds to the surreal feeling, with leaves blowing around the forests, and mist floating around slowly in old graveyards, making this one of the most atmospheric games out there. You really are pulled right into it all. Also when you kill monsters, they explode and it sounds really wet and gruesome, something like a splashing/splattering sound mixed with the sound of a hammer hitting someone's chest. The sound really adds to the violence factor, and makes the kills even more satisfying.
Now games like this don't usually depend on their story, but this had a pretty ok one. You basically have to kill this evil member of the Serpent Riders, who are a trio of evil wizards who plague multiple dimensions with their evil designs. That said, this is not what you figure out from the actual game, because the story doesn't seem to have been implemented into it. Instead, at the end of every level, you get a page of text explaining what you just went through and the horrors to come. It's very well written with much detail, and it adds to the classic dungeon/fantasy feel the game has. You get the idea eventually that your character is pretty horrified but what he's seeing, and he wants a way to protect himself from the forces of darkness that are after him.
Replay value: 9/10
The game has great replay value, because you get to choose from 3 different classes to play as, and they're different enough for the game to play much differently depending on which one you choose, especially with the warrior and mage, as they are opposites in terms of combat. Also because the game is so atmospheric, you will find that it's easy to miss the world it's in and want to play it just to be there once more.
Overall: 8.8/10 ~ 9/10
This is what classic gaming is all about. This game is simple and more or less straight to the point (excluding all the keys and switches you need to find). You kill things, you traverse an interesting world, and you are rewarded with some fun to read text that's very Dungeons and Dragons-ish at the end of every level. Despite the actual text being somewhat overly dramatic, it's still fun to read because at least then you'd get a chuckle out of it if you don't take it seriously. Also it gives it a more classic feel.
I'd say give this game a try, the demo is free for downloading, and the game can be purchased from the official id software website in the form of a download. Probably because the game can't really be found anymore. If you're into fantasy, and like medieval settings, this game is for you.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 01/09/07
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