The first-person shooter formula seems simple enough, when you look at it today; all you need is a couple of guns and people/monsters to shoot at, coupled with some interesting environments to sketch the proper atmosphere. However, these elements are a product of modern technology, because regardless of how facile and intuitive they might appear now, there was a time when they were not technologically feasible, especially not in the form we can enjoy them today.
The undead invasion needs to be stopped
Developed by the long-time visionaries at Raven Software, Heretic is basically a Doom clone with fantasy elements, which means that the action takes place in a classic fantasy world, rather than on Mars. But, id Software was involved in the project as well, so the similarities should not be at all surprising, given the fact that the graphics engine is the same and even some of the in-game elements have been directly transferred with little-to-no modification.
The events that transpire over the course of the game involve the usual fantasy ideas, including elves, powerful wizards and blood-thirsty demons. Your role is to dethrone the evil sorcerers that have enslaved the elven race, namely the so called Serpent Riders. Along the way, you must pass through locations like Hell’s Maw and City of the Damned, which are obviously crawling with unsavory creatures anxious to spill some heretic blood.
Pick-up powerful items and find the keys
Just like in Doom, your main goal for every level is to find the keys that unlock the way further, which is obviously easier said than done. On the other hand, you are equipped with some pretty powerful weapons, so progress mainly depends on your ability to shoot straight and do as much damage as you can. Potions, ammunition and various other items can be found by exploring the levels and the inventory comes in handy if you want to make use of the scavenged loot resting in your backpack.
As previously mentioned, the graphics engine used by Heretic is the same as in Doom, so it should look quite familiar to those who played id Software’s masterpiece. However, the developers did modify it slightly to better fit their needs, while also adding a few new features. Naturally, the pixelated environments and the low resolution might turn you away now, but you need to remember that the game came out two decades ago.
High difficulty level and plenty of content to keep you busy
All things considered, Heretic is not exactly a gem and it certainly could have used a bit more originality, since it often feels too much like Doom. On the other hand, it did bring its fair share of innovations to the genre, albeit it failed to be as imposing as its spiritual successor, Hexen.