Pure poetry. And that, precisely, is what drew me into the game. Like Blood by Monolith, HeXen oozes atmosphere. Plus, with its hub system and the many player classes from which to choose, it offered a style of FPS gameplay not seen before (not to mention replayability).
....you start off in a thunderstorm, leaves from dead trees blowing in the wind, an owl hooting in the distance. A mysterious building with stained glass windows, a door that opens as it swings open, and stairs that lead up to a strange magical column of red smoke surrounded by bars.
HeXen is not for everyone. Being heavily puzzle-based, the gameplay can occasionally get bogged down while the player searches for clues on how next to proceed. Furthermore, searching for those clues across a variety of maps in a hub can be a daunting task. But playing the game either with a written walkthrough or playing it for the second time can make it easier.
Heretic, I found, was much closer to DooM in terms of gameplay (probably why it has been referred to as a DooM clone), but set in a medieval environment. Perhaps for those reasons, I thoroughly enjoyed the game. Back in the mid-1990s people were hungry for variations of DooM, and Heretic was one of many games that fed that appetite. In a sense, it was a "total conversion" for DooM, and it went over very well with fans of FPS shooters.
If you're interested in an epic-length adventure and have the patience for exploration, try HeXen. If you want your game in bite-size chunks, where each level is independent of the next, try Heretic.
Heretic or Hexen? Which one do you prefer, and why? I'm trying to decide which one to try out.