Hands Of Necromancy Is So Good It Could’ve Been Hexen III

Hands Of Necromancy Is So Good It Could've Been Hexen III

A flaming skeleton attacks while wielding a sword in Hands Of Necromancy.

Screenshot: HON Team / Kotaku

In the mood for a retro-style FPS, I scoured Steam for new releases, and nicked a few, without actually clicking. Until I find hands of necromancy, then played all weekend. It’s a Hexen-like FPS, with huge sprawling maps, a whole bunch of weapons, an array of enemy types, and some cool new genre ideas.

In three chapters, as all games of this type should be, the game’s 21 cards are divided between them via three hubs. Each hub has a collection of portals, unlocked by completing tasks in one or the other, and dashing between them all as you find keys, new abilities, and more. This gives it a little Metroid flavor amid the frantic, fast-paced combat and exploration.

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What I really like here is that Hands Of Necromancy doesn’t feel beholden to Heretic and Hexen, but rather inspired by them to then be its own thing. So, as you’d hope, there’s a mix of ranged and close combat, with sword and fireball in your starting lineup, then more and more extensive as you progress. You find a whirlwind spell that allows you to unleash mini tornadoes, which knock enemies back and, if they’re stuck against a wall, really take their life away. There’s a frozen ice wand, a rather impressively powerful scythe, and even a pistol when you sink deep enough.

Enemies are an incredible mix, with creepy creepers, floating magic-wielding wizards, flying bats (which aren’t incredibly annoying!) and stomping golems. In Chapter 2, this same gang is joined by all sorts of even deadlier critters, until the fights become a mad barrage of color and blood.

An array of enemies all attacking at once in Hands Of Necromancy.

Screenshot: HON Team / Kotaku

It’s all 2.5D, but with really nice lighting, all built in GZDoom. The pixel art on the creature designs is fantastic, and while the game leans too much towards dark environments, the locations are detailed and interesting to explore. And more importantly, the level design is top-notch, focusing on vast locations to explore, filled with subterranean chambers, maze-like crypts, and puzzle-filled towns.

Your character, an evil wizard himself, isn’t a hero, here looking to expand his range of abilities and fighting not to survive, but because you just want to fight. This obviously doesn’t have a huge impact on the experience, until you remember it when you pick up a powerful weapon and let out a nasty cackle.

Oh, and as you level up, you gain the ability to transform into different types of enemies, including the little serpent, the hard-hitting golem, and a devil-like horned beast. This can be used to solve puzzles and find secrets, but also just to fight in a different way. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an FPS give the character the ability to transform into enemies, and it’s such a splendid idea.

A crescent moon rises above a city in Hands Of Necromancy, as my golem fist strikes.

Screenshot: HON Team / Kotaku

The game estimates a playtime of 7 hours, which is absolutely insane. I spent almost as much time on the first chapter, exploring every nook and cranny, trying to find secrets, and having fun. I guess you could go through it much faster, but that would seem like such a waste.

It’s great stuff, a game that could have just come out alongside Raven Software’s mid-90s fantasy shooters and held its own. (Although people would have been mystified by the lighting technology.) Certainly, you can get Hexen for a dollar fifty right now, but chances are you have already done so. Hands Of Necromancy is a welcome addition to this fold, and developers HON Team have become a name to watch.

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Article source https://kotaku.com/hands-of-necromancy-hexen-heretic-hon-team-raven-review-1849140855


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