Hedon is a first-person shooter created by a one-man developer, known as Zan, within the GZDOOM (a modified and modernized version of the DOOM engine). Taking inspiration from the likes of Hexen, Thief and other classic titles of yesteryear – all the while embracing certain aspects of modern titles – the content in this fantasy-themed, boomer-core FPS is roughly eight hours of thoroughly polished and incredibly addictive gameplay.
In it, you play as a buff, scantily clad half-orc (whoa, momma!) who’s also named Zan. After waking up in a cave, stricken with amnesia, our hero discovers that crazed cultists and ferocious demons are waging war against the Iron Division, a group of talented mages and warriors who’ve been turning crystals into a power source. Their underground civilization has been ransacked, with few survivors left. You’ve gotta find them, all the while slaughtering everything in your path.
A lot of effort has been put into the lore of the game, and it’s pretty fascinating stuff. While you can still skip out on reading the scraps of parchment, diary extracts and narratives that appear during intermissions in between each level – instead simply focusing on committing mass genocide and beatiung each mission – you’d be missing out on a lot of intriguing plot points on offer.
Hedon has some truly fantastic level design. Each environment that you’ll be exploring is brimming with detail, from the claustrophobic caverns and its colourful underground plaza to the blood-soaked barracks and its luxurious bathhouse. The designs for these areas are complex and creatively designed (areas like the forge and aforementioned bathhouse definitely give off some Thief vibes). Props goes to the textures and lighting in this one as well.
You can expect to do a lot of backtracking in this one. It’s never as simple as going from point A to B while killing every baddie in sight, though you’ll definitely be doing plenty of that. Anyway, you’ll need to keep an eye out for keys to unlock their corresponding doors, and quest items that are required in order to progress. Scraps of parchment and tomes will often give you hints about what items are required and where they can be found. Still, iit can be a tad tricky having to track these things down – there’s no list of objectives that remind you what you need to do at the moment – but your best bet is to look at your map, as it’ll show you the location of all locked door types.
Often, these objectives include things like loading a cannon with a power crystal to destroy a door, forging keys by smelting iron ingots, and so on. Completing these tasks may spawn in enemies by the dozen, most of which are made up of bolt-throwing cultists, giant worms, and spellcasters, with the occasional Hellhound tagging along. Usually, they’re not too bad to face against, provided you’re armed and healed up. The most annoying enemy type has to be the crystal clusters that explode on impact, and the bigger variants that frequently spawn them. However, for the most part, the difficulty remains consistently challenging but fair.
There’s a kickass selection of weapons to get your hands on in Hedon. Outside of clubbing your enemies with your fists and chopping them to bits with a throwable axe, you can perforate foes with a bolt rifle. Then there’s a shotgun-flamethrower hybrid which kicks major arse, much like the explosive crossbow and poison vial launcher, among many other cool bits. You’ll be able to carry special items in your inventory, like sentry guns, health potions, and power-ups. These allow you to leech health from vanquished enemies, freeze time entirely for ten seconds, and so much more. Simply put, your tools of the trade friggin’ rock in this one.
The soundtrack primarily consists of eerie soundscapes combined with echoes of an electric guitar shredding a single note every so often. It’s fittingly unsettling and ominous, though you can expect some pretty nifty Heavy Metal tunes to blare out during a large-scale fight. It even features unreleased tunes by Alexander Brandon, best known as the composer for Unreal and Deus Ex. These electronic tracks are a surprising but welcome inclusion to the mod.
Hedon hits all the right notes. The whole experience feels so fresh and unique that there’s very little to criticize about it. It’s challenging, but enthralling. The level design and attention to detail is phenomenal, and it no doubt wears its influences on its sleeves. Having objectives to complete helps add some more weight to the gameplay, though the shooting and combat is still top-notch stuff. To conclude, paying for mods may sound blasphemous, but Hedon is definitely worth forking out your cash for.
Review code supplied by developer.