The latest free source game to be released, Hexen uses the Doom engine, but it’s a far better game which has more in common with games like Tomb Raider than the simple shoot-em-up that Doom is.
There are trappings of D&D-style RPGery, including the fact that you choose whether to be a fighter, cleric or mage at the start of the game, with the obvious strengths and weaknesses familiar to us all from a lifetime of such games.
You collect mana and potions, and while the RPG stuff is more Tunnels and Trolls than D&D, it certainly adds up as you improve your armour class, weapons and so on.
The version of Hexen I played was the Hexen_68k port by Christian Sauer (v.045) which allows for mouse play, sound and music, but there are ports to suit PPC boards (both WarpUp and PowerUp flavours) too. In any case, the requirements are slightly more stringent than for Doom since there’s a lot more going on in Hexen.
For example, it allows you to look up and down and there are a lot more peripheral features, such as leaves blowing in the wind, for the game to keep track of.
The weapons are more imaginative than Doom and overall it seems to be a better thought-out game.
The game itself is a lot more colourful than Doom, and although it sticks to the messy sprite look of its parent game, the monsters seem better-defined too. Of course, once you’ve got used to the true 3D of Quake, it’s hard to go back to the pseudo-3D of games like Doom and Hexen, but because they move a lot faster and are more colourful, it means the games can often have more depth, and this is certainly true here.
There are falling rocks, puzzles galore, resources you need to conserve if you’re using them for weapons, plus weapons that do different things depending on which class you are on, and so on.
The idea of the game is fairly Doom-like. Wander through the levels pulling switches and pushing buttons, shooting the bad guys. There aren’t as many weapons per character as there are in Doom, but the ones you find are pretty good fun, particularly the cleric’s big weapon which fires out the souls of the dead to rend apart the bad guys.
The only problem with the game is its poor keyboard control which you can’t remap. The keys chosen are in awkward places. For instance, the fire control is CTRL, but the run and sidestep modifiers can only be reached from the right shift and alt keys respectively, making it very awkward to strafe as you run.
I’m pretty sure this is a limitation of the PC original as it’s not something that can be changed by any of the porters (except presumably by remapping the raw key codes), but it still makes the game more difficult to play than it should be.
Other than that, the weapons are more imaginative than Doom, the storyline’s more involved and overall it seems to be a better thought-out game. It doesn’t have the extensibility that Doom has, but it’s great fun nonetheless.