By Josh "Dr.Rouge" Vasquez
Heretic II and the eternal hero.
aven Software and Activision have brought us yet another game that builds upon the myth of the eternal hero. "Out of the fires arose a hero" the tale begins..a variation on the beginning of every mythic retelling of the adventures of that one who challenges the darkness. The battle is never-ending.
Heretic II is a continuation of the chronicle of the strange adventures of Corvus, the lone defender of the land of Parthoris. At the beginning of the game's narrative the viewer is treated to a glimpse of the past. Corvus defeats the fiendish tyrant lizard king who had been ruling with a scaly iron grip. The true evil then reveals itself in the persona of Dísparil. Naturally our hero triumphs but only to feel the cold stab of Dísparilís final curse; Corvus finds himself lost in a burning wasteland, far from home. Yet even as the weary hero makes his way back again, another challenge presents itself, and Corvus stands up to the darkness once again.
There is a gleeful comic book feel to Heretic IIís intro movie. The setting harkens back to an Atlantean age of magic and mystery, an ancient and yet alien world. The adventures are on an epic scale but more like Flash Gordon than the Aeneid. This may be a vision of earth's past or that of a distant planet and that is what is so comic bookishly disorienting. These vague recollections, like tapping into a race memory, work in the story's favor. The creators assume just the right tone so that the narrative comes across as assured rather than pretentiously mysterious. Stylistically the game copies this charmingly dedicated faith in comic book heroics.
The animation, while pretty standard fair, really captures the old hero/villain dynamic. Corvus, sufficiently decked out with the latest state of the art muscles, stands out in all his leather-thonged glory. On the other side stands the red and black garbed figure of the mad wizard Dísparil.
Dísparil in particular resembles the classic comic book nut ball who rants and raves while threatening to let loose his "terrible" power (it's always either terrible or horrible or just plain nasty). This mythic confrontation takes on superhero/supervillan overtones. Dísparilís voice sounds like a cross between Jim Carrey's Riddler and the Spiderman animated series' Green Goblin while he dresses like some cosmic threat Superman might find ravaging the Metropolis skyline. Following the battle, Corvus passes through a portal. "At last...home," he says as he walks into the shimmering blue light. Like Odysseus, however, Corvus faces even more trials before he can reach familiar shores.
Our hero steps onto a rocky island in a sea of flame; he wails in weary pain, cursing his enemy's final jab from the grave. Dísparil must be laughing in hell. Corvus is on his way home when he is pulled into the new adventure which makes up the game play of Heretic II. The journey is never-ending.
Corvus and Dísparil make up that fun loving pair known as the archenemies. I can only imagine that that fiendish villain makes an appearance later in Heretic II, but if not, no doubt another takes his place. What remains constant, however, from the latest tales of Superman and the Justice League to the excitement generated from the new Star Wars film is the love of adventure. The hero is eternal.
- Josh "Dr.Rouge" Vasquez is a regular contributor to loonygames.
Credits: Pixel Obscura logo illustrated and is © 1999 Dan Zalkus. Pixel Obscura is © 1999 Josh Vasquez. All other content is © 1998 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited...we know where you live.