HeXen: Beyond Hereic is a FPS made by Raven Software in 1995. It can be viewed as sequel to Heretic, but only in dark fantasy idea. It's not Doom-clone anymore, instead trying to mix First Person Shooter with RPG elements that are exploration and puzzles. No leveling though.
Compared to ports the only things you are missing is FMV intermissions of PS1 and Saturn, they are text-only on PC, and maybe split-screen multiplayer of N64. Otherwise count PC version as superior.
There also was Hexen on CD. It used redbook music. Steam doesn't have it. But don't worry, they sounded an awful lot like MIDI, but somehow slightly less weak. There were less of tracks too. So you don't miss anything.
So, DosBox was once again configured badly and will lag badly unless configured. To do that, go to "hexen.conf" file. There you should change output from Ddraw to OpenGL, this should fix this.
You can't easily access options to change control and music device from Steam, but at least developers left setup.exe in game's directory. You can open it easily by dragging setup file onto dosbox.exe.
Mutliplayer is supposed to be either coop or deathmatch. Probably isn't balanced for Deathmatch. And in coop players can be only in one level at same time. But since original multiplayer isn't something you can set up easily, or maybe not supported at all in Steam or today, I will rather recommend just using Zandronum source port for multiplayer. But this game is more designed toward single-player, multiplayer is bonus.
Storyline goes is that world of Hexen/Cronos is being dictated by three leaders of three factions: Legion, Arcanum and Church. They traded their alliegance for power of unlife to Korax, the second Dragon Rider, an ugly looking skeleton creature who uses Chaos Sphere to get his power. Our three heroes, who belong to those factions, escaped the infulence of Korax and their leaders and sworn to destroy them. Trying to find Korax stronghold to defeat him, they get separated after entering the portal.
No, there will be almost no storyline going during game itself. Unless you count "after trying to forget horrors that you encounteredOHGOD what is this horrible place that you got yourself into? HOW ARE YOU GOING TO GET OUT ALIVE?!" intermissions. It's mostly just an excuse of why developers decided to put use of player classes sprites as bosses in the final world.
So, the game tries to be less like Doom. It's not about speeding and rushing through series of linear levels. It's about getting hopelessly lost on hub consisting of few levels and then using Google. And pushing switches. Many switches. Switches are puzzles. Switches are everything.
But yes, it tries to vary up things with more exploration. You will have to search corners and walls of levels, trying to find hidden passages and switches. You will also have puzzles, which is either bring "key" item to the needed place or pressing switches. Sometimes it's not about switches, but it's a rare occurance. I also should note one single flaw: for majority of the game you can place the needed item automatically into place where you have to place them by pressing "open/use". But for Yorick's Skull you will have to actually use it from inventory by "use inventory item". That confused me for a while.
Levels are connected to each other into hub worlds. There are five hubs in the game, each with around five or more levels. If a switch will do something important on another level, you will be notified. And thanks to more complex scripting, there are some traps or interesting things will happen occasionally. Second hub world is one of the most confusing ones and yet it's the best one when it comes to atmosphere.
But, as said, no RPG elements like leveling or NPC.
Glitches also happen sometimes. Like, on the 4th hub the boss may sometiems not spawn. Or magic bridge in 2nd hub may not spawn if enemey blocked it. They sure ruin the fun. Especially when you have to check walkthrough to realize that something went wrong.
The game lets you choose one of the three classes: Fighter, Cleric and Mage.
- Fighter is best in anything aside from magic. At least this is what stat image says. If forget that "magic" isn't really a thing there. Anyway, he is melee class, will not get ranged weapon in a while. His blows are strong, he is fast and he can tank damage up. He is the fun with who you will have fun playing as. His flechette, very common item for the game that does different things for each class, is just throwing it forward like explosive.
- Cleric is average class. His stats are average. At least he is not a bad ranged class. His second weapon even has special property of healing you up while used in melee range. His flechettes are most powerful, blowing into poison cloud. This poison will painlock any enemy and will keep doing a damage on them, while you get to just watch them slowly get hurt. But the bad thing here is that his playstyle is tedious. Game's biggest problem are centaurs that always shield up after getting single hit. They are annoying. Fighter don't have to hit them much. But Cleric will either have to fight them for some long time or he will have to use flechette and then wait some time for them to die. Thus, it's not so fun beating game as him. Pick Warrior instead.
- Mage is has low class on everything, but has highest "magic". That means that even his basic weapon is magical peashooter. And his second weapon feels the weakest. While the third weapon is quite powerful. But all of them waste a lot of mana. And he is quite slow class too. His flechette are weak, just working as timed bomb. What I am saying is that he isn't much of fun to play either. But at least he doesn't have as much of problem with shielding centaurs as Cleric does. Unless you don't have ammo for the third weapon, then gameplay becomes tedious once again. Pick Warrior instead.
So yea, Hexen is fun, but only with Warrior. Every other class will have tedious parts.
Game also doesn't bring any good variety during walkthrough. You got three classes, each with their own unique four weapons. But the catch is that you can only play as one class for over 30 levels. As a result, you have only four weapons for whole game. First one is basic and is never used. And 4th one is super-weapon. And third weapon is usually better than the second, even though second and third weapon use their own manas types. So, there is not much thinking involved in picking needed weapon. I can say that it's not as much of thinking or fun in single walkthrough as in Heretic.
There is a good variety in enemies though. Some are melee. Common and weak. Others are tough and shoot. And there is a blocking centaurs. As said, it's a common enemy, that brings game down with his tendency to become invincible after getting hit by bringing shield up for a while. Game would have been good without them.
But hey, at least there are some bosses. Like, three of them. Eh, yes, it's not much. And one is reused again.
Graphics is a step-up on technical side and step-down on artstyle. It uses much more high-resolution sprites. Everything looks bigger and taller. But on bad sides they forgot about color. The unique awesome colorful world of Heretic was tossed out and was replaced by something brown and green. Which looks good sometimes, but most often not. It can be agrued that it fits to dark atmosphere. Well, second hub atmosphere was nice, but after that I surely was missing Heretic.
Music also took a step back. Probably more fit to exploration, but it's not catchy. I hardly can remember any good track outside of the first level.
Hexen is a mixed bag. It's puzzles and combat get tedious at times. I only recommend beating it only as Warrior and pay attention to what switches do. I found enjoyment in that way. Otherwise, it's a bad game.