In a twisted medieval dimension, undead creatures and bestial horrors have done the unthinkable--callously slaughtering your entire race. Your friends. Your family. Eliminated. But the nightmare has just begun.
User reviews:
Very Positive (242 reviews) - 95% of the 242 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Aug 3, 2007

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Buy Heretic + Hexen Collection

Includes 4 items: Heretic: Shadow of the Serpent Riders, HeXen II, HeXen: Beyond Heretic, HeXen: Deathkings of the Dark Citadel


About This Game

In a twisted medieval dimension, undead creatures and bestial horrors have done the unthinkable--callously slaughtering your entire race. Your friends. Your family. Eliminated. But the nightmare has just begun. Wielding ungodly weapons such as the Firemace and Hellstaff and casting spells from the Tomes of Power, you must seek your vengeance. Or die trying.

  • Supports up to four players via network, two by modem. Adventure through the game with a friend or crack their skull in a bloody deathmatch.
  • Walk. Run. Fly. Look all around you, even up and down.
  • Choose from among 7 weapons (from the simple staff to the awesome Phoenix Rod).
  • Use arcane artifacts to unleash unearthly power on unsuspecting foes.

System Requirements

    Minimum: A 100% Windows 2000/XP/Vista-compatible computer system

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Very Positive (242 reviews)
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Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 30 days
1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
12.5 hrs on record
Posted: October 20
Heretic is the first game in the Serpent Rider trilogy, and takes place on the fantasy and Elven inhabitated world of Parthoris, which has been visited by a Serpent Rider called D'Sparil, the youngest of his brothers. He manages to convince the Seven kingdoms of the world to follow him like sheep, building worship sites in his honor via D'Sparil's Sign of the Trident. The only ones immune to his infectious influence are the ancient elders of the Sidhe race, a small group of strong Elven sorcerers that have been branded as heretics and seek refuge and are ultimately pressed to weave their powerful magic and extinguish the Seven candles in order to collapse the rallied armies of the Seven kingdoms primed against them. It seems D'Sparil's plan to inherit the world had failed. Until he reveals his own personal army from the depths of the abyss, who overpower and slaughter the remaining Sidhe. Only one elf managed to escape, Corvus, who now seeks bloody vengeance from the cruel slaying of his people and corruption of his world and challenges D'Sparil to the death, even to his own terrifying home dimension.

If the first Quake is more or less Doom in 3D, then Heretic is practically Doom with a fantasy skin. But what seperates Raven's game from id's is its own gimmicks and advanced engine features. You can look up and down, there's an inventory system that allows collection and utilization of various magical items at any time, a few examples like the Quartz Flask which is Heretic's take on Doom's medikit, the unique Tome of Power which is a spellbook of Sidhe origin that temporarily increases the power of all weapons in possession, the Wings of Wrath that grant the ability to fly for a short period of time, or the humiliating Morph Ovum that transforms once powerful foes into measily chickens! There's more environmental hazards than in Doom like slippery ice floors, wind currents that push you back, and regenerating spores which are effectively Doom's explosive barrels if they could respawn. Most weapons are very similar counterparts to Doom's: Gauntlets of the Necromancer (which sadly do not resurrect the dead as your own) operates like the chainsaw, the Elvenwand functions like a pistol, the Ethereal Crossbow like a shotgun, the Dragon Claw like the chaingun, Phoenix Rod is Heretic's rocket launcher, or the Hell Staff, Heretic's magical take on the plasma rifle. There's no BFG equivalent however, and like stated prior all of these weapons can be temporarily boosted to have extraordinary properties, making short work of even the deadliest creatures.

D'Sparil's army consists mostly of little red gargoyles, flesh golems and undead warriors earlier on, but you'll be coming face to face with more otherworldly monsters like the enigmatic Sabreclaw, the serpentine Ophidian, and even D'Sparil's own Disciples. It's not quite as robust and memorable as Doom's bestiary but they put up a decent fight, often coming in large mobs, and can be surprisingly dangerous at times on the highest difficulties. Even though there are no hitscan enemies in the game, you will be bombarded with projectile attacks and some of these do pretty serious damage, the Disciple's attack in particular, or the alternative attack of the undead warrior in the form of a luminous red, blood dripping axe. Some monsters also come in several other variants, not simple recolors but different abilities, like some gargoyles are melee only and others throw fireballs, or Nitrogolems that cast homing magical skulls at their target. Bosses are featured at the end of each episode in traditional Doom fashion, and I'm happy to say here that none of them are really pushovers like they were in Doom. Iron Liches, Maulotaurs and D'Sparil himself are all formidable adversaries and pack a surprise or two.

Heretic's level structure is just like the first Doom game, with five episodes in all. The first three consisting of the original story, and two extra that take place after the events of episode 3. Episodes 4 and 5 were added later on as a sort of expansion pack but more of an upgrade to the original release, much like the fourth episode added to Doom. It's really just more of the same, but the maps are notably more difficult to traverse and have a greater density of monsters. Only for the diehard fans, otherwise you're not missing anything if you choose not to play them. Heretic's levels are for the most part very Doom-y and straightforward, with optional side areas to visit and secret areas hidden about. Three keys are required to exit most maps and action is constant from start to finish, making even single episode playthroughs rather exhausting once finished.

Visuals and audio are very well done, there's lots of color and plenty of detail in the artwork for textures and sprites, a lot of little details in fact which Raven has always been about and if you have an eye for such thing it's impressive the amount they packed into the Doom engine. It's not as dark in tone as Doom but Heretic's adventure still manages to feel oppressive and perilous. The music is done by Raven's longtime musician Kevin Schilder and has an appropriate fantasy sounding theme in each level, more or less on par with Bobby Prince's contributions to Doom. Not always as upbeat as Doom but they are often fun and catchy, with some of the gloomier pieces being very atmospheric provoking a sense of dread.

My personal criticisms is the lack of texture variety, as Heretic has a strangely small set of them, but they're almost always applied well enough. Some monsters can soak up a bit too much damage, making hordes of them feel like a chore to take down, and are usually too slow in their movement to be of any real threat if you choose to run past them. Episodes 3 and 4 are off to an unusually difficult start because ammo isn't in great abundance and you're almost showered with foes, forcing you to retreat until you find enough supplies to fight back. Lastly as mentioned earlier episodes 4 and 5 are very tacked on and don't offer anything new besides more difficult levels, some of which can be pretty obnoxious (I'm looking at you E4M9). It's no doubt a fun game and a worthy counterpart to Doom but it's not nearly as fun or as well designed as Doom is, combat can be so-so at times and the balance isn't always great in regards to enemy strength or player weapon damage. Some weapons are just flat out redundant in operation, there's not one not two but three rapid firing weapons which cuts down on the creativity. The Fire Mace being Heretic's 'ultimate' weapon is lackluster at best (at least when its un-Tomed that is). Finally the amount of user content available is also very low, nowhere near Doom's or even Wolf3D, so if you turn out to really like Heretic there's only going to be so much on offer.

Ultimately Heretic is a mostly solid shooter with some cool ideas and an overall nice premise and its the beginning of a very decent trilogy of fantasy themed shooters, with the sequels Hexen and Hexen II continuing and concluding the Serpent Rider trilogy. If you enjoyed Doom and want a similar game and/or wish to pursue Raven's Heretic/Hexen series then it still comes as recommended. Raven and id were best buddies earlier on and collaborated on numerous projects together and most of the games turned out well enough, with Heretic as the first major foray into Raven's mainstream successes.

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Most Helpful Reviews  Overall
47 of 52 people (90%) found this review helpful
10.0 hrs on record
Posted: June 6, 2015
Heretic: Shadow of the Serpent Riders is a fantasy First Person Shooter by Raven Software that came out in 1994 and uses Doom engine. Yes, it's Doom-like shooter set in fantasy. Awesome mix. Plus inventory.
Shadow of the Serpent Riders is a special patched release of a game that brings it to 1.3 version, thus adding two more additional episodes. No new game content like weapon or monsters or textures, just new levels. Think of Ultimate Doom.

Now, let's tip apart the way that game was handled on Steam. Well. At least they brought the most full version of the game here. And it uses DosBox, which is usually a good thing until you find out how badly id Software configures them for Steam.
The game will lag at full screen, so you want to go to game directory and edit heretic's conf file to make it use "opengl" for "output" setting.
Game's option like music device and controls is once again isn't easily accessed. On good side, they didn't remove Setup.exe this time around, unlike Doom games on Steam. So you have to open game directory, drag setup.exe onto dosbox.exe and then configure it as you want.

Storyline of a game is quite simple. Well, it has a lot of written in manual, but main idea and amount of plot in game is minimal.
Your hero is elven hero, who's name is Corvus. Elven race, guardians of the Pathoris world and keepers of Tome of Powers, were proclaimed as heretics, when Dragon Riders came to conquer this world. With two Dragon Riders leaving for the other worlds, the remaining Dragon Rider, D'Sparil, unleashes horde of monsters through portal after Elves manage to wipe out all of the human armies of the world. Most of the elves were killed, monsters took Tome of Powers for themselves and you are one of the lone survivors. Your journey will begin at the City of the Damned.
Somebody will get murdered in the end.
The additional episodes 4 and 5 have excuse plot of "portal didn't lead you to home, so enjoy the world destroyed by Dragon Riders and the home of D'Sparil".

Presentation-wise the game is quite awesome looking and sounding for it's time. Yes, Doom engine. But art-style-wise, Heretic presents the world that is dark fantasy yet very colorful, with great contrast. Setting is awesome, you get to wield a magical crossbow that is equalient to shotgun. While Episode 2 is a least interesting looking one, taking place in brown caves with lava, until it gets less dull with inclusion of ice in later level, Episode 3 brings an original setting of a underwater shrine and buildings. Even water in this game has that artsy look to it.
Music is great too. With medivel feel, it's not afraid to use modern instruments. Well, instruments of MIDI and Soundblaster. Most of them are melodic and catchy. Cathedral track will send chill down your spine for sure.

Gameplay itself is, surprise, Doom-like. You search and explore mazes at the running speed, finding keys and opening lcoked doors, pressing switches and discovering secret areas, shooting down monsters or rather rushing past them.
You will shoot down red flying gargolues, mummies, armor knights that throw axes at you, and dark wizards of D'Sparil, who will turn your blood cold with their backward speach that sounds like silly phrases. You will also deal with respawning "explosive barrel"-like things, will push yourself against streams of water and wind and will encounter bosses. Which are your standard FPS bosses. Being tough enemies that you will start encountering more often in later episodes. So not too amazing.

Though, unlike most FPS, it does do something good: There are no enemies who use hitscan against you. What it means is that any damage in the game can be avoided, giving it more arcade-like quality. If forget that it still makes you run over damaging acid like Doom does.

There are seven weapons of magical nature. Shotgun-like crossbow, Rocket Launcher-like Pheonix Rod, Plasma-gun-like Hellstaff. With most of them shooting projectiles, they feel slightly too similiar to each other in use. But thankfully, game introduces Tome of Power.
Tome of Power is a item power-up that you will find through levels. By using it through inventory you will power-up your weapons for a limited time. It doesn't just make them stronger, it also gives additional properity for them, making them even more amazing. For example, mace, the final weapon, stops sucking hard. Hellstaff will make a hot magic rain appear over where the projectile collided. Gaunlets, the game's chainsaw, will start to heal you as well.

Inventory is another addition to gameplay. You will get to collect various helpful items that you can use it anytime. It could be Hourglass who work as timed bomb and aren't much of use, or healing potion, or invincibility ring, or, as said, Tome of Power. Not related to inventory, you also will sometime find armor, but it's quite a rare thing.
There is one important thing to be said about inventory: When you move to the next level, you will retain only one quanity of each item. You will also lose item that allows you to fly around. I am pretty sure that it may sound like a bad thing for some players. But I think it was a good idea. Most of us are used to stockpile tons of items so we could rush bosses down. With system like that, you should feel free to actually have fun using additional items during normal gameplay, you will lose them for no good otherwise.

Last thing I should note is difficulty of additional episodes. Yes, episode 4 and 5 are harder. They are also more of same. And yes, the final level has eight Maloutaurs. But first levels of each of those two episodes deserve a special mention, as they will require you to think fast, use items effectively, avoid enemies you don't want to fight with in order to survive. It was really fresh challenge, at least on Normal difficulty. Got simpler after that though, as you gain more items in process.

But with all the positive things I said, I have to be honest, it didn't become favourite FPS. It's hard to explain why. But you see, the game just doesn't "click" like Doom does. It just doesn't. I am not sure what it lacks. There is something in game feel that it doesn't have. Perhaps there should have been more common enemies that die bloodily. Or maybe it's the projectiles nature of weapons not being comparable to shotgun and rocket launcher. But yes, it lacks something, hard to say.

Heretic is an awesome FPS and yes, it's a Doom clone. But it's an awesome Doom-clone, perhaps bettering Doom itself for some people.
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38 of 40 people (95%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
2.1 hrs on record
Posted: June 27, 2015
Pretty unfair that doom get's a remake,but not this gem...
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38 of 44 people (86%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
4.6 hrs on record
Posted: August 26, 2014
Still the original FPS formula is better than any orher later game
Have fun with this ,as you will have
Excellent classic
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25 of 25 people (100%) found this review helpful
30.0 hrs on record
Posted: June 22, 2014
This game is not for people who have only played DOOM-cubed. This game is for people who played ClassicDOOM on DOS. Released during the same era of gaming, rather than being stranded on Mars with only a space-pistol, you're a Heretic, cast out by your fellow man for daring to see the enemy for what they truly are. After D'Sparil's armies wipe out your town, you creep back in with only a Wand, helltbent on revenge. Like ClassicDOOM, this game originally came packed with three episodes, complete with frightening enemies, awesome weaponry, and amazing powerups. Unlike ClassicDOOM, you also had the ability to look up and down and even fly. Shadow of the Serpent Riders added two additional episodes, but as far as I can recall, no new enemies, weapons, or powerups; just new levels.

The game itself is froxen in time; the graphics have not been updated and I doubt anyone will attempt to do so. As such, it is somewhat difficult to see in the distance on the better-developed machines of today. However, this is my only gripe, and there's nothing that can really be done about it. I bought this pack for one reason and one reason only: to return to my childhood. Nostalgia. To remind myself why I got into gaming in the first place. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

People looking for "new and exiciting machanics" will be sorely disappointed. But if you remember the 90s, and ClassicDOOM, and Wolfenstein 3D, you need this in your collection.
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29 of 34 people (85%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
2.2 hrs on record
Posted: January 18, 2015
Heretic is like Doom but with magic.

Best classic game

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19 of 19 people (100%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
0.4 hrs on record
Posted: September 26, 2015
I first encountered Heretic: Shadow of the Serpent Riders as a shareware game, when we bought a new computer featuring Windows 3.11. Although Shareware (the first level, The Docks, was all that you could play) it was one of the games I enjoyed playing, although it regularly gave me frights, with monsters popping out from behind pillars, and only the unidirectional roars to tell me that they "might" be lurking around a corner.

I played it enough to warrant a full purchase via an unlock code, and the game proved to have a great deal of longevity. The stats at the end of each level, gave you feedback on no. of monsters killed, secrets discovered and items found. This lead to a great deal of replaying and backtracking to try and find each little hiding place.

I never really read the manual, and the plot is really inconsequential anyway, this is by no means a narrative driven game, suffice to say your elven race was slaughtered as they refused to believe in the deity of the "Serpent Riders" and were slaughtered as Heretics. You, the sole elven survivor are out to seek revenge.

Today it's legacy is questionable. The genre of Fantasy FPS, is non-existent, instead we have a modern warfare or sci-fi bias that the greater legacy games, Doom, and Quake popularized. Heretic is of course from the same period. (It uses the Doom Engine). Yet has had far less overall impact on the trend of FPS fantasy, which is rather something of a pity, as in an oversaturated market, this genre has potential. The only games that might have built from this core concept is of course Dark Messiah of Might and Magic (includes more brawling combat) and the recent Lichdom.

It has not aged well, the lack of resolution (it runs out of DosBox), poor textures and flickering lights may lead to eye strain, but the overall feel of the game is still enjoyable. It has none of the complexity and strategic gaming that later titles show, but it does sport excellent level design and exploration/puzzle mechanics, that aren't so common in modern FPS, as well as gothic interiors, and smooth gameplay.
(Definitely a game to settle down to with some Death Metal on the side!)
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16 of 17 people (94%) found this review helpful
0.2 hrs on record
Posted: May 9, 2014
I like old shooters a lot. Enjoyed hours of Doom and Shadow Warrior, and found this game some days ago.
Well, needless to say, I bought the whole collection haha

So, at first, I thought I made a mistake, Heretic seemed to have only 5 stages. No no, those were 5 chapters, each of them with lots of stages. The game is indeed good, lots of secrets and has this dark ambient, creepy monsters, and awesome weapons.

My only complaint is that it wasn't configured to run on newer systems, so you should probably end up downloading ZDOOM to better customize the controls.

Anyways, incredible game, totally worth playing if you enjoy old games
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13 of 13 people (100%) found this review helpful
0.2 hrs on record
Posted: May 10
!!Important note!! To have the best experience with heretic, I would highly recommend you download a launcher called zdoom, which is free. By playing the game through gzdoom, you are able to customize the controls. I played this game on a windows 10 laptop and the game worked perfectly fine for me. There is a link below to zdoom.

What I liked about the game
• I thought the monsters in the game were pretty cool, especially the Golem.
• Throughout the game there are many secrets to be found.
• There were some very good levels, especially in the first chapter.
• Some cool weapons.
• I like the idea of having an inventory, so you can use stuff that you collect later on
• In the first three chapters, at the end of each level, I like how it showed you a map telling you where you have been and where you are going to next.
• Cool death animations.
What I disliked or was disappointed with
• I thought the music was quite repetitive, I know they reused some of the songs in doom, but they got reused a lot more in Heretic.
• Killing enemies in heretic wasn’t very satisfying. I didn’t feel like a badass like I did in Doom.
• The last two chapters aren’t really anything special, I like to think the story ended on the third chapter. The final bosses in chapter 4 and 5 aren’t very interesting.
• Chapters 4 and 5 were quite hard, it was a shock because the first three chapters were very easy.
• Secrets were too easy to find.

My conclusion

If you liked Doom, Quake or Hexen. I would recommend this game to you. It is a good game with some good levels and weapons. Plenty of secrets to be found as well. You get a lot for £2.99, well worth the money.


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14 of 15 people (93%) found this review helpful
11.2 hrs on record
Posted: July 15, 2013
While at first you might write it off as another crappy Doom-clone, it takes the initial formula for Doom, and then expands on it.
The chainsaw might be replaced by a pair of lightning gauntlets, but those gauntlets can be augmented by an item for a short bit to sap health from enemies.
Although not appealing to casual audiences in the slightest, fans of old school shoot em ups can get past the "press a button, something happens somewhere" flawed level design and enjoy the high-challenge arenas and the subtle nuances of this fantasy-themed Doom-engine fps.
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Recently Posted
0.4 hrs
Posted: October 19
- Get this, along with Doom2/UDoom/Final Doom and Hexen.
- Download zDoom.
- load up everything

Congratulations, you just gave your toaster purpose.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
10.6 hrs
Posted: October 11
Hint: Type IDDQD if you're on a difficult part.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
0.4 hrs
Posted: September 17
It's a classic.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
2.9 hrs
Posted: September 11
Best part of this game is the gauntlets that let you Palpatine people to death. Yes, tremble before my wrath demon!
Helpful? Yes No Funny
0.3 hrs
Posted: September 4
It's fun till the fourth eposide.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Bumpy Chungus
0.2 hrs
Posted: August 12
While it's a Doom clone at its core, Heretic actually does a great job of setting itself apart from its Sci-Fi counterpart. The inventory powerup system, weapon alt-fires, and vastly different enemy and level design lend themselves to an experience that feels like doom in engine only, and the expansion levels especially will provide a nice challenge to any classic FPS fan.

Downloading the GZDoom sourceport to run the game is strongly recommended as it will help with most issues you may have getting it to run on a modern system, and it greatly expands graphics and control options.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
9.8 hrs
Posted: August 8
*picks up weapon*

Helpful? Yes No Funny
gsza Cromat
17.4 hrs
Posted: August 5
One of the finer “Doom Clones”. A medieval-fantasy based FPS from the early 90’s, consisting of 5 episodes with 8 levels each so you are looking at a 15 hour + gameplay value. It has a great atmosphere with almost non stop action all the way until the end. The levels can be maze like at times but this was purely due to technological limitations of the time. I recommend running this game with a source port (GZDOOM/Zandronum) through steam. There are several steam guides which explain how to do this. In addition I recommend using the Ketchup mod to add more more blood and gore. Heretic holds its place in time as one of the great FPS’s from the late 90s.

Final Score 85/100
Helpful? Yes No Funny
0.2 hrs
Posted: August 2
I hope they make a new game of this one. ^_^
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