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Hexen II, starring Gene Simmons.
The Aztec level is composed of Crystal Maze-like platform games.
The general storyline is that Eidolon, the last of the Serpent Riders (see Heretic, Hexen, Heretic 2) has arrived on Thyrion and laid waste to the four continents that look coincidentally like different historial periods from Earth, and it's your job as a crusader, paladin, assassin or necromancer to stop both him and his servants, who happen to be the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Even though there are a few monsters scattered around each map, the emphasis is definitely on exploration and puzzle-solving - something hinted at quite strongly by the way you only get four weapons.
Actually, that's not as bad as it first sounds. Every character's weapon lineup is different, so in the game location where the Crusader would find the ice staff to go into his second weapon slot, the Assassin would instead find a crossbow, and so on. But they all share a common pattern for use of ammunition - a non-mana-using melee weapon, followed by something that uses blue mana, then green, then both together. Except the Paladin, who gets a second melee weapon that can use blue mana to make itself more powerful if you have any available, but I can't remember what the actual effect of it is offhand. So that's sixteen weapons in the game already, and if you include the effects of the Tome of Power (which upgrades all your weapons when you use it, often giving them strikingly different effects) then you could even bump it up to thirty-two.
Spot the secret passage.
Another thing that I noticed this time round is that the puzzles... well, to put it simply, they make absolutely no sense within the plot or goal of the game. The first world is particularly guilty of this, because you don't find out what you're actually supposed to be doing until well into it - the eventual goal is to defeat the Crystal Golem so that you can get past the barrier that's tied to his existence. But to even get anywhere near this, you have to do a selection of incredibly random things. Shortly after the game begins, you skip happily into what looks like a wizard's lab and find a book on the table. "You need the Bone Dust of Loric to complete the spell of mythril transmutation", it says. That's a nice and clear objective, but who, for example, was Loric and why are his bones so special? Come to think of it, why do I need to make this potion of mythril transmutation in the first place? Later on you find out that there's a mythril wall you can't get past at the bottom of a castle moat, but once you're past that, why do you suddenly need to find the altar of the Brotherhood of Hunger (secret passage, only accessible through hammering on a wall with a slight seam in a house later on) and seek out "sand, glass and grindstone" to see through an arbitrarily-placed magic barrier?
Even mundane things seem artificially protected - in order to dig up a key early in the game, you logically enough have to find a shovel. But the only shovel to be seen in the entire castle area is the most well-defended shovel in the universe, only accessible through a secret passage that you have to open up by jumping across the beams on the roof of a stable and pulling a lever within, and even when you get that open it's defended by a golem. The whole thing makes no sense at all - without any character interaction beyond the odd dying note left by someone whose vital organs are now generously distributed around the room, you never find out the reason all these places and unlikely magic hindrances you're running back and forward between even exist, and by the time you get to the Egypt level and are seeking out the Sceptre of Lots and Lots of Darkness from the Pyramid of Lots and Lots of Evil, you've forgotten what you were originally supposed to be doing entirely (also being distracted by the nagging thought that you might have missed a tiny wall switch a few maps ago, and some bits of the Egypt level just need you to bump into the right wall to get things to happen).
However, despite the lost feeling of the mediaeval levels and the labyrinthine design of the Aztec levels (like in Quake, there is no automap, but the levels in Hexen II are far more complex and non-linear, meaning that you really need to draw a paper map as you go if you want to have a hope of not going utterly insane), I did somehow make it up to this Egyptian world without any help from a guide - this is something of a spectacular achievement for me as far as adventure-type games go, and even if I do say so myself, even more impressive in this particular overdramatic game of Spot the Difference.
Take a look at this. You'll be seeing it a lot.
I'll get you, Michael Gummelt.
And one of them did work in the end - after we'd lost count of the number of different techniques and bizarre superstitions we'd attempted, one of the given combinations suddenly produced a "Sequence completed!" message instead of either dumping us outside with a "Nothing seemed to happen" message, or dumping us outside with no message at all - two events that seemed to happen roughly randomly when the game decided the combination was wrong, which usually happened once we'd got to the end of the bridge but sometimes happened at random in the middle just out of spite. So with that canopic jar in our bag, we ran away from it as fast as possible.
But even though by blind luck we got over that bridge eventually, this was the game-ending event that made me give up. Not feeling like dealing with any more of the Egypt level despite the fantastic music, I used the NOCLIP cheat to sink through the floor of the hub room and go to the next world myself. (As it happens, it turns out I could have completed it easily from where I was if I'd been a bit more observant in another map, at the altar that flung me back across the room whenever I went near it. I could have gone underwater instead to avoid the invisible barrier, hammered on the left wall a bit, silently opened a passage at the other side of the level, found that and gone through to collect the last of the four canopic jars from there, then travelled to the afterlife and aligned the sundial to free the Staff of Nefertum from the very start of the world. That would then have allowed me to turn the zodiac dias in the present day as well as 1000 years in the past, therefore aligning it to both equinoxes at the same time and fulfilling the Prophecy of Set. Sounds obvious now I say it.)
The rest of the game is reasonable enough, although this is largely because I had put God mode on by that point and the tiles puzzle had taken so long that GameFAQs had been invented during the time we tried to get past it so I had a guide to see me through. But that nine tiles puzzle always nagged at the back of my mind - I knew there must be some better solution to it that didn't involve sacrificing a raven or pointing your computer in the right alignment with the moon before starting. But I never found it - every guide on the Internet, even the one on Raven's own site, just advised you to keep trying until something magically happened and you were allowed past. Other guides had their own theories about it, but none of them knew for sure.
Last year, after I hadn't thought about it for ages, the lead programmer for Raven Software, Michael Gummelt, suddenly appeared on the Clickteam forums. Naturally I got him talking about his involvement in Hexen II and its most infamous puzzle - the topic still exists here, and we continued it over private messages. I hoped that finally, we would get an answer.
If I recall, the one that was the right one depended on what path you took through the temple. i don't think he (Brian) intended you to know, for sure, which one was the right one. It was just an overthought puzzle that made a lot of people stop playing, unfortunately... :/
So basically, he didn't know either (and also, you'll notice, tried to shift the blame on to Brian Raffel). When no guide on the Internet knows what to do, and the man who wrote the blasted thing can't remember how to get past it, something is definitely wrong. And it looked like no-one would ever know for sure what the game was thinking... but thanks to
Basically, part of the set of invisible barriers that I mentioned earlier involves having an invisible teleportation field just behind the last row of tiles to stop you from leaping over them and getting the jar that way. This invisible teleporter is meant to turn off when you get the combination right, but they put it a bit too far forward, meaning that more often than not you accidentally step into it while going over the last row of tiles even if your combination was correct. When this happens, you're thrown outside with no message, and the puzzle will be in a weird unstable half-finished state that will fail you at a random point in the future. This is the bit that misleads everyone. The puzzle has only reset itself correctly when you get the message "Nothing seems to happen" when you're teleported outside, because that's the result of a different teleport that triggers when you put the wrong combination in and it's recognized as complete but incorrect.
So in conclusion, all you have to do is crawl/walk very slowly over the last tile that you're going to step on so that you don't hit the badly placed defensive teleporter before the game turns it off, and if that rejects you with the message, just to go back and try one of the other combinations. Using that technique I'm now able to get past it consistently. To be honest I was rather disappointed that the solution was this simple after years of not knowing what was going on, but it's completely baffling until you realize the game bug that makes it quite so accidentally difficult. Once you understand what it's thinking it's easy, but then, you could say this about everything to do with computers, and I have a job trying to get the things to do what I tell them to. I had had a suspicion that there was a difference between getting the message and not getting it, but I had never been able to work out what it was.
So now, thanks to his heroism, I'm now legitimately on the last of the four worlds, which resembles the Roman empire, but beyond that I honestly can't remember anything about because I God-moded and noclipped through the whole thing before. But this time I'm going to finally complete it, because no matter what it throws at me, I'm confident that there's nothing in it nearly as bad as those nine tiles.