Heretic is ok but feels like it misses most of what makes Doom good. It is cool to see some new weapons and enemies but there isn't much beyond that.

The level design here is more straightforward, with almost every mission just being a collect the keys in order as you fight through rooms of enemies sort of affair. There are a couple with some interesting teleportation or exploration challenges, but for the most part these feel like straightforward, fantasy caves and temples. I do like that the levels feel much different than Doom though.
I like the art in Heretic quite a bit. It presents a bright, Saturday morning cartoon version of fantasy with saturated colors and lighting that gives it quite a contrast to the dark hellscapes of Doom. Things like the final boss, D'Sparil being the guy that you have seen over and over in the stained glass windows throughout your ordeal are cute and fun.

The weapons start out promising but the team seems to run out of ideas fairly quickly and most of them fail to really make a case for their inclusion here. Individual weapons don't feel suited to defeating particular enemies or particular challenges and where Doom makes your ammo resource an interesting source of power increase (from the pistol to the chain gun) or decision-making (between the energy rifle and the BFG), ammo here just ammo. Each weapon has a different type and you sort of cycle through your armaments as you run low on a particular type. It isn't really very satisfying or fun.
The Spectral Crossbow is by far the standout to me, with its somewhat interesting shot pattern it functions like a hybrid of a shotgun and a sniper rifle.
Enemy design doesn't do the weapon designs any favors. New enemies are introduced throughout most of this three episode campaign and they have different attacks, but your approach to them never really changes. Fighting a Maulotaur is basically no different than fighting a golem, it just goes on for longer.

Heretic plays well enough, but definitely feels like a by the book proof of concept done by a team that didn't really have a clear idea of what makes Doom's systems or level design work. I do love the swing at making this weird, fantasy fast-follow to Doom even if it ends up being a fairly mundane experience to play through.

Reviewed on Feb 27, 2024