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Heretic is a fantasy first-person shooter video game created by Raven Software, published by id Software, and distributed by GT Interactive in 1994. It was made available on Steam on August 3, 2007.
Using a modified id Tech 1, Heretic was one of the first first-person games to feature inventory manipulation and the ability to look up and down. It also introduced multiple gib objects spawned when a character suffered a death by extreme force or heat. Previously, the character would simply crumple into a heap. The game used randomized ambient sounds and noises, such as evil laughter, chains rattling, distantly ringing bells and water dripping in addition to the background music to further enhance the atmosphere. All music in the game was composed by Kevin Schilder.
Template:In-universe Three brothers, known as the Serpent Riders, have used their immense magical powers to turn the seven kings of Parthoris into mindless puppets. The kings, in turn, led their subjects in doing the Serpent Riders' bidding. However, the Sidhe elves are immune to the Serpent Riders' spells and had no allegiance to any of the seven kings; the Serpent Riders thus declared the Sidhe as heretics and launched a campaign of genocide against them. The Sidhe were in possession of seven candles, each tied to a natural power of the world as well as that of one king.
In desperation, the Sidhe's elders extinguished these candles, destroying both the kings' armies and weakening the elves' own powers in the process. Taking advantage of the elves' weakened state, the disciples of the Serpent Riders struck against the elves and killed the elders. Afterwards, the Sidhe went into hiding. One however, revealed in the sequel to be named Corvus, sets out in search of D'Sparil, the weakest of the three Serpent Riders and the only one remaining in Parthoris.
The player must first fight through the undead hordes infesting the "City of the Damned", the ruined capital of the Sidhe (its real name is revealed to be Silverspring in Heretic II), and the site where the elders performed their ritual. At its end is the gateway to Hell's Maw, guarded by the Iron Liches. After defeating them, the player must seal the portal and so prevent further infestation. However, the portal can only be sealed from the other side. From there, the player character's only choice is to fight onward, into the enemy's own territory.
Eventually he arrives at D'Sparil's fortress, whereupon after fighting through the Serpent Rider's guards, a final battle with D'Sparil himself commences. D'Sparil is initially mounted on a large serpentine beast, later called a Chaos Serpent in Hexen. Once the beast is killed, D'Sparil fights on foot, summoning disciples to his aid. Once D'Sparil is finally destroyed, all of the creatures under his command perish as well.
A portal opens, which the player steps through to complete the game (referred to as "The World Ripple" in Heretic II). The fortress crumbles into oblivion as the player is transported further away from home. Yet the player's character does not feel victorious, sensing greater dangers to come. The game ends with the image of the Heresiarch, next seen in Hexen, gazing at the player character through a crystal ball.
The original edition of Heretic was only available through shareware registration (i.e. mail order) and contains three episodes. A retail edition, distributed by GT Interactive, was titled Heretic: Shadow of the Serpent Riders and features two additional episodes: The Ossuary, which takes the player to the shattered remains of a world conquered by the Serpent Riders many centuries ago, and The Stagnant Demesne, where the player enters D'Sparil's birthplace. A free content patch was downloadable from Raven's website to update the original Heretic to match Shadow of the Serpent Riders.
The gameplay of Heretic is heavily derived from Doom, with a level-based structure and an emphasis on finding the proper keys to progress. The weapons are also almost exact functional copies of those from Doom, with the same key bindings. Raven did however add a number of touches to Heretic that differentiated it from Doom, notably interactive environments, such as rushing water that pushes the player along, and items. In Heretic, the player can pick up many different items to use at their discretion. These items range from health potions to the "morph ovum", which transforms enemies into chickens. One of the most powerful pickups that can be found is the "Tome of Power" which creates a much more powerful projectile from each weapon, some of which change the look of the projectile entirely. Heretic also features an improved version of the id Tech 1, sporting the ability to look up and down within constraints, as well as fly.
In early 1999, the source code of Heretic was published by Raven Software under a license that granted rights to non-commercial use, and was re-released under the GNU General Public License on September 4, 2008. This resulted in ports to Linux and other operating systems, and updates to the Heretic engine to utilize 3D acceleration. The shareware version of a console port for Dreamcast was also released.
The game was reviewed in 1995 in Dragon #217 by Jay & Dee in the "Eye of the Monitor" column. Jay gave the game 2 out of 5 stars, while Dee gave the game 3 stars (but suggested that "if you loved Doom, you'd call this" 5 stars).