Heretic (1994)

by Nish
5 minutes read


Heretic: A Heretical Classic of the FPS Genre

Released in 1994 by Raven Software, Heretic is a first-person shooter (FPS) that broke away from the mold of its contemporaries like Doom and Wolfenstein 3D. Set in a dark fantasy world, Heretic introduced innovative gameplay mechanics, a compelling storyline, and a unique visual style that set it apart from other FPS games of its time.

A Heretical Story

Heretic’s story unfolds in the realm of Parthoris, a world once ruled by seven benevolent kings. However, the three Serpent Riders, powerful sorcerers, have possessed the kings, corrupting them and their armies. The Sidhe elves, protectors of Parthoris, resist the Serpent Riders’ dark magic, but at a great cost. To sever the kings’ connection to the Serpent Riders, the Sidhe elders sacrifice their own power, weakening the elves and giving the Serpent Riders an advantage.

Amidst the chaos, one lone elf, Corvus, embarks on a perilous quest to avenge his fallen brethren and rid Parthoris of the Serpent Riders’ evil. Armed with a crossbow and a variety of magical spells, Corvus sets out to confront the weakest of the three Serpent Riders, D’Sparil. His journey takes him through treacherous landscapes, from the ruined City of the Damned to the depths of Hell’s Maw and finally to D’Sparil’s stronghold, the Dome of D’Sparil.

Gameplay Innovations

Heretic introduced several innovative gameplay mechanics that set it apart from other FPS games of its time. One of the most notable features was the ability to wield a variety of magical spells alongside traditional weapons. These spells, ranging from fireballs to lightning bolts and even the ability to summon creatures, added a layer of depth and strategy to the combat.

Another innovative feature was the game’s hub system. Instead of progressing through a linear series of levels, Heretic allowed players to explore a central hub area and choose which level to tackle next. This provided a sense of freedom and exploration that was uncommon in FPS games at the time.

Dark Fantasy Setting

Heretic’s dark fantasy setting was a major departure from the sci-fi and horror themes prevalent in other FPS games. The game’s world is filled with medieval castles, gothic architecture, and grotesque monsters, creating a unique and immersive atmosphere. The game’s soundtrack, composed by Kevin Schilder, perfectly complements the dark and brooding setting, enhancing the overall experience.

Visual Style

Heretic’s visuals were groundbreaking for its time. The game used the Doom engine, but Raven Software heavily modified it to create a unique look and feel. The game’s levels are richly detailed and atmospheric, with a focus on verticality and exploration. The character designs are also notable, with Corvus and the various monsters featuring distinct and memorable appearances.

Legacy and Impact

Heretic was a critical and commercial success, selling over 250,000 copies worldwide. The game’s innovative gameplay, compelling story, and unique visual style earned it a dedicated fanbase and cemented its place as a classic of the FPS genre.

Heretic’s influence can still be seen in modern FPS games. The game’s use of magic spells and its hub-based level design have been adopted by many subsequent FPS titles. Heretic also helped popularize the dark fantasy setting in the FPS genre, paving the way for games like Hexen and Diablo.


Heretic is a true gem of the FPS genre, combining innovative gameplay, a compelling story, and a unique visual style to create a truly immersive and memorable experience. Whether you’re a long-time fan or a newcomer to the game, Heretic is a must-play for anyone interested in the history and evolution of FPS games.

Review Score



Cover Art


This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More