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Jimmy

Flash thoughts on Hexen: Deathkings' design

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This review is interesting. However it does need a correction:

 

3 hours ago, Jimmy said:

Dark Citadel is a laughably pathetic "final boss". Perhaps the biggest letdown of all the IWADs' concluding maps. And  the intermission texts make the titular "Dark Citadel" sound so huge and threatening! The map is a big circle with nine non-threatening waves of monsters to kill. A boring slog. Korax doesn't even show up! You had a final boss that could interact with the map itself and you didn't include him, guys!!

 

Actually there is no boss named "Dark Citadel". Its the name of a place. The name of the expansion is "Deathkings of the Dark Citadel". The Deathkings are the boss enemies. They are those class bosses which u also fight in vanilla Hexen's hub 5. And u fight them here in the last map of the expansion pack as well.

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For what it's worth, the fact that the Wyverns and Heresiarchs get thrown at you out of nowhere instead of being predictable arena end fights was always one of my favorite things about Deathkings. I don't like the set quite as much as Hexen itself, but it's a solid expansion.

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The ending was highly inconsequential and weak. That's about all I have to say.

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I still maintain that Deathkings is, if not still the best, at least in the top tier of Hexen map sets, for the exact reason of "It's more Hexen" (except, I would argue, better since it's distilled into a shorter and more "expert mode" campaign, though it has its rough patches).  I don't think Hexen was ever really meant to be a Doomesque game the way Heretic was and most Doomers just don't "get" it at all.  It ain't for them.  I sometimes wonder if there's some parallel universe where the folks at Raven put shapeshifts instead of classes, billed it as a successor to Shadowcaster rather than Heretic, and it found its target audience a lot better.

 

Will wholeheartedly agree that Sump and Dark Citadel should never have passed quality assurance as they are, though.  That maze segment would be annoying for any game but I think Sump could have been redeemed if they'd axed that and put something better in its place.  It had some cool parts.  If you want a take on what Dark Citadel could have been like in a better world, check out the finale of a WAD called Chuxen.  Maybe not perfect but at least an effort was made.

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I really liked Ice Hold and Bracken Wood, I'm surprised to see that you didn't. I thought they looked decent and were interesting enough. All in all I tend to agree with your points. I did find the finale to be a big letdown of a boss map, perhaps there could be an actual "Citadel" map with a big bulky fortress structure and plenty of stuff to do before we actually fight the "Deathkings", but I guess a small and bare arena style map will have to do. But I'm glad it exist because Hexen is awesome and the more, the better.

 

The only thing that I think the expansion does better is making things more complex by including more puzzles per map. It only has 3 hubs but because you have more things to do make it so it feels like the original game. 


 

Spoiler

 

I do remember getting killed in Eric's Tomb because I attacked the gargoyles in his tomb. Maybe the script is a little bit glitchy but it suppose to gib you if you injure the gargoyles inside the tomb. Maybe you straight out killed them before?


 

 

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I've played Heretic, HeXen and Death Kings of the Dark Citadel through once each, using ZDoom a long time ago, so it's been interesting going through @Jimmy's reviews here to see how they stack up to my vague memories. Heretic has infinitely more memorable visuals and visual design, it seems, as Jimmy's descriptions evoked clear memories for me of what the icy, lava and underwater environments were. HeXen on the other hand... It's a game with a lot of ideas, and a very valuable contribution to ZDoom with ACS, but it is just not very good. I think I'd like to have a go at a map for it one day, to see if I can make something I'd enjoy more from the stock resources.

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Eh, I think they kinda rushed it. But hey, it's HeXen...

 

That's all I have to say.

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The only good thing Hexen gave to this world was a bunch of nice medieval textures and sprites to use in Heretic.

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The biggest disappointment to me was that it didn't bring anything new. Some new textures, new music, a new monster type maybe, even if it's just an oldie from Heretic making a coming back, anything really. At the very least, a new victory text.

 

I mean, the comparison here isn't with Shadow of the Serpent Riders or Ultimate Doom, which were extensions made for the commercial release of the original game, since Hexen is Heretic's version of Doom II. The comparison is with Final Doom. The fact it's literally nothing more than a level pack without any new content besides the levels, and that they didn't even change the endgame sequence, it's just ugh.

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Deathkings was mostly ass, like Hexen itself. Hexen II is where it's at! It even has a decent add-on episode in Portal Of Praevus.

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Oh yeah, Hexen II was great. It even brought back the Tome of Power!

 

Heretic II... was, uh... different. I still enjoyed it though. Now if only it came out on Steam, I will gladly ditch that 5.25" ODD...

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I liked Deathkings precisely because it was just Hexen, but more, which I already consider the best game in the original trilogy (not counting Heretic 2).

 

The fact that it was more combat focused this time around than the original was also a plus, but that meant it also went a bit crazy with ugh... Slaughtaurs in some parts... making Mage playthroughs a bit tedious.

 

Hexen 2 was good too, but that Egyptian hub almost killed it for me.

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I mostly concur with Jimmy - the levels have serious design issues throughout and never get the balance between combat and puzzles right - both parts constantly get in the way of each other, the main problem being that most of Hexen's monsters are not that much fun to fight when they come in packs.

 

When I play I mostly use the easiest skill and load a mod on top that disables the respawn scripts, because they kill all the fun for sure.

 

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Yeah my main issue with Deathkings is the CONSTANT respawning monsters (including dangerous baddies like Slaughtaurs), it's tedious and really discourages exploration. Which is antithetical to the game's very design. 

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7 hours ago, Uncle 80 said:

Deathkings was mostly ass, like Hexen itself. Hexen II is where it's at! It even has a decent add-on episode in Portal Of Praevus.

Agreed. Hexen II was cool, somewhat innovative. Hexen felt like a mish-mash of stillborn, poorly executed ideas. Heretic I totally understand. Hexen's following? Nope. 

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