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Hedon

Hedon is a retro-styled adventure/first person shooter game running on the GZDoom Engine. It was made by a one-man dev team, developed and published by Zan_HedonDev. After the release of the Hedon Bloodrite sequel, the original Hedon campaign was retroactively named "Crystal Heart."

Development started in October 21, 2016 and the game was first released in March 21, 2019 on IndieDB and itch.io as a freeware version followed by a commercial release on Steam in May 16, 2019. Hedon was only released on PC, on Windows and Linux. It initially started off as a total conversion mod for Doom, but due to changes in the GZDoom Engine's license combined with the fact that it no longer required a base Doom wad file to run with, it became one of the first commercial titles to run on this fan-expanded idtech engine.

The budget of the first chapter was non existent, the entire asset list of the game being built from scratch by the author himself, with less than 2000 USD later gathered through Patreon support and invested into the soundtrack, voice acting and box art.

Half a year after Hedon's release, the development of the sequel began, this time being worked on full-time by the author, rather than as a part-time project. This led to the release of Hedon Bloodrite on 30th August, 2021. Despite being much larger in size and scope than the original, Bloodrite was released as a free update, which allowed players to select it in a similar fashion to how Doom handled its episodes.

Gameplay-wise, Hedon expands the formula of a classic FPS game with puzzle elements and exploration as well as a focus on story telling and atmosphere building. Hedon Bloodrite also brings open world-style level hubs and light RPG mechanics such as a journal for recording objectives, secondary quests and friendly camps with NPCs and merchants that the player can interact with.

Hedon Bloodrite has also expanded the immersive simulator dimension of the game by accounting for a variety of player choices and interactions, some more hidden than others.


Development & Setting

The game takes place in a fantasy setting mainly split between the overground and the underground (the latter also being known as "Hedon"). The world itself was designed many years before the game would enter development by Zan (author) with brainstorming and inspiration provided by iamfailtacular, the author's significant other. There are a number of key concepts that stand at the foundation of Hedon.

Overworld map sketch indicating the position of the Green Wall and Iron Division's (I.D.) mountain. August, 2015

The Early Iron Division

Sexy pin-up/concept of the Lancer, representing one of the six castes of the Iron Division. August, 2016

Perhaps one of the most important elements of the game's setting, the Iron Division is a faction of amazonian Orcs and Goblins that constitute the main focus of the story in Hedon. Initially designed as just a series of sexy pieces of artwork/pin-ups featuring six castes/classes showing different outfits, weapons and abilities, the Iron Division ended up being the very cornerstone of the game's development in October, 2016.

The Iron Division was also designed along with their stronghold, Valc, built inside a mountain chain bearing the same name and surrounded by a dense forest known as "The Green Wall." This plays an essential role in the setting as almost all the action of the first game takes place underground, around Valc and its outskirts.

Zan's Evolution

Another important component that led to Hedon's development, Zan is an original character created in 2009 by the author who ended up adopting her name across different internet boards and communities. As a character, Zan went through various design stages culminating with her appearance as the protagonist of Hedon.

Crystalpunk Fantasy

Although Hedon is built upon classic fantasy elements, there are some particular spins to the places and races inhabiting the world, most notably the "crystalpunk" Iron Division Orcs. The world is influenced by Magical Crystals of various properties and characteristics that are able to shape both the environment (through factors such as light, temperature, magnetic fields, energy etc.) and the technological advancement of those who use them. The Crystal Heart is very often mentioned, being the core of the Iron Division's culture and technology and representing a sacred place which all Orcs and Goblins are sworn to preserve.

The Demon Menace

Beneath the lowest layers of the underground world lie the Pits of Hell. Demons are an ever-present menace, growing in power as they subvert factions and corrupt entire civilizations, all of this culminating with devastating invasions. They come under different shapes and sizes and have plenty of servants to do their bidding, turning them into the highest threat towards both the over and underground worlds.

The Iron Division's Resolve

The action of Hedon kicks off five weeks after the Iron Division and their Earthborn allies (a coalition of Dwarves and Minotaurs) set off into a long Campaign against the Demons with the main objective of defeating them once and for all. The campaign involved most of Valc's inhabitants, leaving only few behind to tend to the home town.


Plot

Prologue

Date Unknown

The Iron Division forces appear to be dead or in disarray after a failed attack on the Demons.

The game starts abruptly, with the protagonist, Zan, finding herself deep inside Demon territory. After fighting her way through fiery hellscapes, she finds a couple of Iron Division survivors trapped inside a citadel who ask her to find a way to free them out. The Half Orc soon learns that the force she is part of is in disarray, and a series of strange, otherworldly places she proceeds to explore confirm that she is experiencing visions of a failed assault. The flashback culminates with Zan using a cannon to blow the citadel gates, followed by a strange voice prompting her to wake up.

Hedon I - Crystal Heart

Rotation 509, Day 239
Zan wakes up battered in a crystal cavern with no memory of how she ended there or what happened prior to that. She soon enough finds out that she is inside a mining outpost of the Iron Division, relatively close to her home town, Valc. The outpost seems mysteriously deserted and affected by a series of short earthquakes and invading Crawlers, causing cave-ins and other trouble. As she finally leaves the outpost, the protagonist discovers its inhabitants massacred outside the entrance. Upon finding a certain dead Reaver, she reads a note mentioning a woman swiftly appearing and killing everyone before they could draw their weapons, and leaving behind strange pentagrams from which Cultists began to appear. At the same time, a strange shadowy figure seems to be looming over Zan, luring her towards Valc.

Outside the mining outpost, all the Iron Division inhabitants have been slain by a mysterious force. In the sky, an ominous dark figure can be seen floating away towards mountain Valc.

After fighting numerous Cultists throughout the Green Wall forest, the Halfblood manages to enter Valc through a secret tunnel and finds herself in the main Plaza area. All the citizens and fighters left in reserve have been massacred by the invading Cultists which took them unprepared by spawning through pentagrams spread all around the town. At this point, the protagonist understands how grave the situation is, especially as she finds notes from a surviving Reaver, Tiati, mentioning an extremely powerful Elven Warlock leading the invasion and presumably intending to break into the Crystal Heart. As a sworn warrior of the Iron Division, Zan cannot allow the secrets of Crystal Technology to fall into foreign hands, and so she sets off to stop this Warlock.

Tiati, the first living member of the Iron Division encountered, is locked behind reinforced glass. She feels uneasy to see Zan in Valc, knowing she was supposed to be away with the rest of the Orcs in the campaign against Demons.

Her second stop inside Valc is the Barracks, where she hopes to regroup with the defenders and fight the invaders off. However, she finds out that she is too late and the Bear Warriors stationed there have already set off to protect the Crystal Heart under the command of Captain Dura, the mining outpost foreman who happened to be in Valc at the time the invasion began. As she is about to leave the Barracks, Zan finds a note from Tiati, addressing her directly and instructing her to use the portal by the Great Forge to quickly reach the lower part of Valc and defend the Crystal Heart. Tiati also appears to be confused about Zan's presence in Valc, asking whether she wasn't supposed to be away with the Iron Division Campaign instead.

Heading towards the Forge through a ventilation shaft, the protagonist passes out from exhaustion and has visions of a battle between the Orcs and the Demons before a dark citadel, where she is unable to move because she is held in place by a dark figure - Abhaoth - a name that she suddenly remembers but is unsure of who it belongs to.

Rot. 509, Day 240

The Grove portal surrounded by dark corruption. The sludge grows during the level, assimilating nearby ground and vegetation. Three pseudo-hearts parasite the nearby clusters of power crystals, hampering down the portal's activation.

The warrior wakes up the following day and reaches the Forge. Tiati is waiting for her in the portal chamber but she is locked in by the Cultists and urges Zan to find the key before the portal runs out of energy. Onc again, Zan finds herself being too late and unable to catch up with the survivors. Having left through the portal, Tiati left behind a new note telling Zan that her only hope of getting to the Crystal Heart now lies with another portal located in Valc's Grove. After crafting a replacement mithril gear, the Halfblood blows up a path back into the Plaza and heads to fix the park gate leading to the Grove.

Here is where she uncovers a strange organism corrupting the portal that she requires to use. After an overwhelming fight against a last ditch effort from the Cultists to stop her, she activates the portal but much to her confusion, she ends up being transported back into the Grove - except now there is no sign of corruption, nor battle.

Rot. 509, Day 241

Abhaoth shows Zan a projection of Nithriel, the leader behind Valc's swift invasion. She explains her reasons and that she had received help from inside to bypass the anti-magic ward, allowing her to summon her entire army in and take everyone by surprise.

Moving on, Zan realizes she is no longer in the real world. After returning to a dream version of the mining outpost, she finds a projection of herself lying in the cave where her adventure began, and as soon as she touches the body, Abhaoth finally managed to contact her directly. In an attempt to recover Zan's memories, she shows her the grim fate of the Iron Division campaign, explaining that the Demons corrupted the Forge Elementals, causing them to turn against the Orcs and their allies, destroying their siege weaponry and disabling their supply lines. Left surrounded before one of the demonic border citadels, the Division warriors lasted for a week before being starved out and overwhelmed. Abhaoth proceeds to explain that Zan's demonic blood is the key to defeat the Demons and that she is very important both to the Iron Division and to herself.

She then tells her about Nithriel, the Elf warlock who appears to have launched the invasion with help from inside Valc, which should have normally been protected against large scale magic attacks with the help of a special crystal ward. Abhaoth shows Zan a mysterious Disk Artifact and asks her to stop Nithriel from obtaining it at all costs, while also mentioning Tiati's lack of trust towards the her. However, just as she finishes explaining what happened, Nithriel senses the presence of her mind and attempts to sever her connection to the Halfblood's dream, all of this culminating with a first boss fight between Zan and an intimidating projection of the Elf.

Rot. 509, Day 242

When playing on the Brutalizing difficulty and if managing to keep their companions alive, the player can see them cheering over the activation of the crystal ward, striking a deep blow to the invading forces.

Banishing the warlock from her mind, Zan finds out that the corrupted portal had actually spat her outside of Valc, on the outer side of the mountain. Luckily enough, though, she finds herself close to the Parapet, a surface trading post of the Iron Division that is equipped with one of the aforementioned anti-magic crystal wards. She soon learns that a Witch named Lith had recently visited the base with a signed order from Witch Chieftan Zura to request the deactivation of the ward in order for an unspecified magical ritual to be performed inside Valc. Being caught up with several problems, the commander of the ward base, Lancer Dendra, approved the counterfeit order without much questioning, thus unknowingly opening Valc to Nithriel's assault.

Rot. 509, Day 243

Andrik, a lone survivor, tells about how Lith spiked the fort's well, contaminating all its dwellers with her dark poison.

After turning the crystal ward back on and severing the Cultists' ability to keep teleporting reinforcements in, Zan seeks to return inside Valc, the quickest way to do so being an elevator built inside the Dwarven fortress of Icepeak. As she navigates towards the snowy peak of the mountain, Zan finds out some notes left by traveling Lancer Dendra expressing concern towards the Dwarves not maintaining the roads to their fort. Later on, she stumbles upon Earth Mother Eva's grove and discovers that she has been poisoned by someone who is neither Dwarf nor Cultist. She eventually reaches Icepeak, finding a handful of Dwarves who died battling the Cultists outside of the fortifications. Upon further investigation, she discovers Andrik, a Brewer's Guild Dwarf left for dead in a cell by the Cultists. He unveils that Lith was the one who spread the deadly poison that decimated the rest of his brethren, and turned them into the strange, dark mass of corruption which the protagonist had already encountered before, in the Grove. After Zan offers him some Dragonbrew, his powerful metabolism allows him to purge the poison and recover, and he hands the half Orc the key to the elevator to Valc, asking her to find Lith and bring her to justice. However, the elevator is affected by the spreading corruption and crashes down.

Rot. 509, Day 244

Zan encounters Chieftan Zura in Lith's experiment tank, but is unable to free her.

Zan wakes up after the crash the following day. The nearby portal room is littered with receding corruption and blood, showing signs of Dura and her warriors having passed through. Strangely enough, there are no bodies around and the blood trails point towards the Witch Clinic on the other side of the street. As she explores the clinic, Zan finds out that Lith was in charge of biologic research and had one of her projects turned down by the Lancer Council prior to the campaign's beginning, causing her to have a breakdown. Lith kept log entries mentioning her belief that the campaign was doomed to fail and that Demons would prevail, while also detailing her mental downfall and how Nithriel eventually preyed upon her state of mind to manipulate her into doing her bidding. It is also found out that it was Lith who created the Crawlers, and later on proceeded to work on the Golems, after taking over the clinic's facilities for herself and capturing Chieftan Zura. Zan ends up being captured by her too, but Tiati, who previously suspected the Halfblood to be the traitor, had discovered Lith's deeds herself, and delivered her execution, following an order from Lancer Dendra.

The last defenders of the Iron Division, holding the final line before the Crystal Heart.

After being freed, Zan makes her way towards the Lancer Temple, ready to carry out her final battle. It is there where she finally meets up with the survivors, led by Lancer Dendra who appears to have made her own way there from her Parapet base. Captain Dura and the rest of her squad is also there, holding out the defense against Nithriel and the last of her Cultists. Dendra informs Zan that she has lost contact with the defenders in the other wing leading to the Crystal Heart and that Nithriel has vanished from the front line hours before. After being briefed, Zan is reminded of her rank as a sergeant Bear Warrior and is given command over a small squad in order to find out what Nithriel is up to. Going through the ravaged defense lines, the warriors end up reaching the Crystal Heart where Nithriel delays them from securing the Disk with the help of a giant Demon she has conjured by sacrificing several Pit Lords.

Reaver Tiati appears wounded after trying to stop Nithriel from getting the Disk Artifact.

A brutal boss battle ensues, but as soon as Zan defeats the Pit Lord Alpha, she finds Nithriel holding the sacred Disk Artifact. As the warlock opens a portal to escape, the Halfblood swiftly chases after her into places unknown. Dura and Dendra show up after defeating the invaders, only to find the Crystal Heart ransacked, the Disk Artifact gone and no sign of Zan and Tiati to be found.

The invasion is over, but the price paid is immense. The few surviving members of the Iron Division are now left with cleaning up their Stronghold and hoping that a messenger will return with news of the campaign against the Demons.

Hedon II - Bloodrite

Although Bloodrite allows the player to perform certain tasks and actions in different ways, the following summary presents a standard run.

Act I - The Underworld is Dying

Rotation 509, Day 247
Following after Nithriel during her narrow escape from the Crystal Heart, Zan is thrown out of the unstable wormhole's exit into an unknown cave, in the deeper layers of the Underworld. Due to temporal distortion, she arrives there three days after Nithriel, giving the Elf enough time to recover some of her lost energy and arrange her meeting with the Blue Baron. Once back up on her feet, Zan immediately notices some of her gear teleporting erratically around the place and eventually, the very Crystal Curator follows through, after having managed to crawl into the shrinking portal back at the Sanctum. The Curator is thoroughly exhausted after trying to stop Nithriel from stealing the Disk Artifact, but she claims that she can sense the Warlock's presence nearby, beckoning the Bonebreaker to stop her. After being revived with the help of a mana potion, she joins up with Zan, proceeding into the nearby Cult Town.

Nithriel makes use of her head start to prepare an ambush for Zan, knowing well she would chase after her, and dealing with the Halfblood would be very risky in her current weakened state.

The Curator notes the presence of the Iron Division banner on top of a pile of skeletons, realizing that they must be inside one of the settlements that were raided during the campaign against the Demons. She also mentions that the underground flora is dying, as the crystals have become erratic and unstable with the Disk gone from its place, and this could very well spell the end of life in the Underworld.

Zan soon finds Nithriel roaming around the town, but just as she is about to catch her, she is ambushed by an overwhelming amount of demonic forces, being once again successfully delayed by the Warlock. After punching through the defenses, the Halfblood continues her pursuit, only to fall into another trap, which sends her falling into a pit of corruption which lied far beneath the town.

Rotation 509, Day 248

The Elf instructs the Spirit Mistress to capture Zan inside the corruption pit, presumably hoping to convert her into one of her own Golems.

Zan wakes up just before a group of Crawlers prepare to attack her, and manages to escape the pit, leaving the Curator to fend off the corrupt monsters. She soon finds herself leaving the crypt of an old Cultist Mansion, emerging under the Crystal Dome which appears to be plagued by a lightning storm (most likely as a result of the Disk's removal). As she explores the mansion and its vicinity, she learns that the compound is besieged by a group of orcs, and that the three siblings who own the house are aided by Demon reinforcements, sent to protect the gates using five unholy books. While unveiling the violent dispute between the Body Master and Mind Master over who gets to own the property, Zan manages to dispel the unholy seals guarding the gate and discovers that the siege force is comprised of none other than her own sisters who survived the Iron Division campaign's defeat.

Being equally surprised to see the Zan, who had been assumed killed in action, the orcs find themselves forced to order the Bonebreaker to drop her arms, and proceed to take her into custody to try her for presumably deserting the front. She doesn't stay imprisoned for long, however, as Tiati arrives at the Iron Division base camp just in time to tell the higher-ups of what happened in Valc. Once cleared of her charges and reunited with the remnants of the initial force, Zan is tasked with joining a bold and desperate last ditch effort to assassinate the Blue Baron and send the imminent demonic invasion into disarray.

Zan is reunited with the new leading figures of the Iron Division campaign - Minotaur Lord Murguth, the Advisor, Grand Earth Mother Breaza, Warlord Grund, High Priest Jaromir and Eraanthe.

While waiting for her quarters to be cleaned, Zan wanders off from the camp and stumbles upon a lone Fixer who tells her that her squad has gone missing and asks for help with investigating the issue. She leads Zan to a nearby forest, where she points out the presence of rain, which is highly unusual for the underground, even inside the layers beneath the sky-like Crystal Dome. Concluding that the missing orcs have been captured by the cultists, Zan assaults the nearby Cult Fortress in an attempt to free them. Once inside, she is confronted by the Spirit Mistress, who had left the nearby mansion in Nithriel's company, aiding her to recover her energy for the journey ahead and overseeing the plan to capture Zan and corrupt her. After freeing the prisoners, Zan breaks them out of the fortress and debriefs with Breaza and the Advisor, who send the forest squad back to search and occupy the fortress. This not only allows them to secure a path and send a messenger for Valc to bring reinforcements, but also provides them with the information that Nithriel is supposed to meet with the Blue Baron at a nearby Demon Port Town, providing a perfect opportunity for the to put their desperate attack plan in motion.

Rot. 509, Day 249

After her sleep is ruined by a nightmare in which demons storm the base camp, Zan is awakened by Tiati, who appears to have recently gained the ability to see the shadowy projections of Abhaoth, much like Zan. She proceeds to take Zan to a new briefing hosted by Breaza and the Advisor, who explain that the Demon Port Town where the Blue Baron's meeting will take place is too well defended for a frontal assault. In order to launch a flank attack, however, the orcs require a large supply of hell powder to be able to tunnel around the walls. The information discovered in the fortress indicates that demons are using a nearby abandoned Minotaur Town to store hell powder, and Lord Murguth instructs Zan on how to gain access inside using special ruby gems.

The Demons are using the factory to both manufacture weapons and store or transport them through unholy gating channels.

Once she gets past the gates, Zan quickly discovers that the demons had built an entire factory inside the old ruins. She bears witness to a meeting between two Pit Lords who use demonic gating to teleport weapons and supplies away. She then proceeds to advance through the factory, learning that the demons have been focusing their efforts into creating a new weapon - the Paingun - using no less than the I.D.'s crystal technology to power it up. After wrecking through the factory and slaying the overseer, Zan finds the location of the hell powder storage and returns to base, informing Breaza of her discoveries. Showing concern over demons using their own technology, the I.D. leaders send a squad to the factory to research the machines.

Rot. 509, Day 250

Once again, Zan's sleep is interrupted by a nightmare, in which she sees Abhaoth caught in a trap and surrounded by laughing projections of Nithriel. Tiati wakes her up again, and tells her that Chieftain's Zura forward forces have reached the camp. She goes to meet them, and Zura explains how after researching her insane adjunct's diary she found out more about the nature of the corruption that Nithriel seems so interested in. It appears that while trying to break her mind, some of the Warlock's thoughts and memories merged with the Witches', which caused her to lay some of the information on parchment. Her notes describe a submerged vault of the Ancients where the corruption may stem from. Recounting stories of his ancestors carrying out archaeological studies on submerged elven ruins, High Priest Jaromir sets off towards a nearby abandoned Dwarf Town, and Zura asks Zan to follow him in order to verify if Lith's information is accurate.

The underwater vault suggests that the ancient elves might be connected to the creation of the corruption. It is also here where the Baron first contacts Zan.

Hoping that this mission will be less dangerous, Breaza agrees to it, but relegates one of the Earth Mothers maintaining the camp's grove and anti-magic ward to Zan's command to make sure she doesn't get injured. As soon as the two reach the abandoned Dwarf Town, they find out that the ruins are populated by cultists, and Jaromir confirms that their presence there is suspicious. Upon searching the surrounding shops, Zan finds a note signed by Nithriel which proves her own interest in the submerged ruins. The Halfblood manages to put together a Diving Suit and uses it to discover the legendary vault, guarded by none other than the Baron's Psi Demons. After defeating them, she claims a strange Corrupt Seed and brings it back to Zura.

On the way back to the camp, the Halfblood notices that the reinforcements from Valc have arrived under the command of Captain Dura, and the orcs are getting ready to assault the Demon Port Town. However, when debriefing with the leaders, Zan is told that the sapper team tasked with disabling the deadly flame towers guarding the main gate has been caught in an ambush and trapped by cave ins inside the nearby mines. She is tasked with finding a way to recover their hell powder and continue the mission, as it is critical to supporting the main assault force. Zan manages to find an additional entrance to the mines by taking a detour through the Minotaur Town and once she regroups with the sappers, they breach the Demon Town and disable the gate security, opening it up for the rest of the orcs.

Captain Dura notes that Reaver Tiati appears to be missing from the battle.

Warlord Grund commences the assault and orders the warriors to split in smaller groups and comb through the Demon Port Town in search for where the Baron and Nithriel. Zan leads her own squad through the tight streets, crushing any resistance from the demons. She eventually makes use of an experimental cannon to blow through a reinforced barricade and proceeds to face the garrison commander. Using an illusion of himself, the Blue Baron taunts the Halfblood and unleashes the Giant Cerberus who struck her down during the failed campaign siege upon her. Eager to get revenge, she slays the beast and pursues the Baron's illusions across a giant hellish bridge, reaching the port that connects the Islands of Hell with the rest of the Underworld through the Sea of Fire. She realizes that the Baron's fleet had already left, with both her targets on board, and rushes to the only boat left. As she jumps aboard, she happens upon Eraanthe, who had snuck up past the enemy forces and asks her to help her start the engine. Eager to stop the Baron, Zan leaves her sisters behind and sets off in the company of the other halfblood, running the boat at full speed.

Rot. 509, Day 251

Nithriel uses her mind control powers on Tiati to find out about the Iron DIvision's plans and steal the Corrupt Seed from Zura's possession.

After almost one day, they catch up to the Baron's fleet, and Zan attempts to board the flagship, ignoring Eraanthe's warning to not do anything reckless. As she jumps from one ship to another, the Baron attempts to stop her by using another illusion. This only manages to briefly slow the bloodthirsty Half Orc down, who eventually reaches the flagship's engine room, where Nithriel is holed up (a note describes how she is looking for a place too noisy and insulated for the Baron's prying thoughts to be able to reach her). The Warlock ambushes Zan, catching her in a magic stasis and rendering her unable to move. Much to her surprise, she notices Tiati sitting next to her, with the Corrupt Seed she had likely stolen from Zura. Seeing that her only chance to be freed is gone, the goblin manages to briefly struggle out of the Elf's mind control spell and lobs a Toxic Potion into the ship engine's furnace, causing an explosive reaction. Nithril conjures her powers to protect the Disk and Corrupt Seed while the chain explosion throws the entire fleet into chaos and destruction and Zan blacks out.

Act II - The Core of Hell Erupts

Rot. 509, Day 253

Zan wakes up on a what appears to be a paradise beach.

The Halfblood washes up ashore on a piece of debris and lies unconscious for a couple of days. She wakes up on a pleasant paradise beach, the deadly Sea of Fire replaced with soothing azure tidal waves. As she begins to explore the island, however, something feels amiss. Abhaoth contacts her, beckoning her to release her from the Baron's Citadel which lies at the heart of the island. She also warns Zan that in order to do that, she will be required to taint her heart. After the paradise vision is dispelled, the warrior awakens to the fiery reality of the Core of Hell.

As she moves further into the island, she re-establishes contact with the Iron Division and their allies, who appear to have caught up using a transport ship - although they could only afford to transport a limited amount of troops and supplies aboard. Lord Murguth greets Zan and informs her that the Baron's Citadel is guarded by an aura that prohibits passage to those who don't posses demonic blood. Although Zan is a halfblood, her heart is yet too pure to be granted access, so she is tasked with finding the shrines of the five Demon Primarchs and fulfilling their sinful requests in order to taint her heart.

Eraanthe races Zan for the opportunity to slay the Baron, but gets stuck when Gaun asks for her own sword as offering.

Moving further, Zan discovers the temple of the Green Primarch, where Eraanthe is stuck negotiating the terms of her offering to receive the taint. Gaun asks Zan to bring him a statue of herself made from crimson salt, taunting the warrior and mocking her for being a mere tool to her leaders' interests. In the eastern end of the island, Zan's path leads her to a cursed port, where the ghost of a renegade cultist tells her that there are other Cult rebels hiding inside the island's crypts and gives her a Pendant of True Sight with which she is supposed to reveal their hideout.

Yzbeth explains that the Baron's power source can only be accessed with the help of three soul keys that she received for safekeeping.

As she journeys on, the Halfblood enters the eerie domain of the island's succubus matron, Yzbeth, who quickly takes an interest into the blue skinned intruder. After visiting the nearby cathedral and receiving the task to bed a demon-blood from the Purple Primarch, Yzbeth reveals herself to Zan, teasing her and luring her inside her villa. Upon entering her bed room, Zan notices a strange soul fragment and the succubus explains that the Baron keeps a newfound source of power in his citadel, and the only way to access and remove it is by using the three soul fragments. It is clear that Yzbeth does not agree with the Baron's reign of authority over the otherwise highly chaotic demons, but she also opposes the idea of the Halfblood slaying him. She is content with leaving it up to fate and vanishes, leaving the Halfblood with only a few clues to discover how to obtain the fragments.

Seeing Zan as a threat to the ongoing demonic business, the Golden Primarch traps her into his vault, from which she escapes with the aid of the Shady Fixer.

Before leaving the bedroom, Zan also retrieves the avatar of the Golden Primarch, who was being held by Yzbeth for allegedly betraying her affection with a goblin. After placing his avatar back to the shrine, Elzriel demands the Halfblood to offer three hundred golden coins, promising that he will not only grant her the taint, but also make her rich. As soon as Zan complies, however, Elzriel lashes out at her for attempting to interfere with the Baron's successful monetary system and transports her to a golden vault, with no way of escaping. As soon as she lands into the vault, the Shady Fixer greets her, recounting how she also ended trapped in there after her plan to steal the gold and escape with a teleportation device failed. After fully exploring the vault, Zan uses her demonic blood to activate the Fixer's chaotic device, and they both get teleported back outside.

Finding out about their rebellion, Yzbeth traps the dissident cultists inside their own hideout, in an attempt to drive them desperate enough to pledge allegiance to her.

Zan resumes her journey and descends into the island's crypts, where she reveals the hideout of the Cult rebels. Here she meets an Old Orc, Scrawn the sculptor and Abedun, who thanks her and adds up to Yzbeth's story about the three soul key fragments required to sap the Baron's powers. After piecing the clues together and gathering the proper items, the Bonebreaker enchants a pendant of true sight with the memory of Yzbeth's Gardener, whose brain was kept artificially alive by his matron's magic. Zan uses the pendant to dispel the succubus' illusions, revealing the true dark nature of her cathedral and gaining access to certain parts of her conscience in which she keeps the soul fragments. Once the Bonebreaker acquires all three of them, the succubus helps her complete Adur's taint request, and the orc returns to Abedun, who gives her an angel's feather and his blessing to slay the Baron. Zan still has three Primarchs to appease, however, and one of them has their shrine located right next to the rebel hideout.

Having lost their warriors in fair battle, the tribe that would later found the Iron Division quested for the Fountain of Life in order to regain their power, thus breaking the orcish oaths and traditions and becoming outcasts.

As she awakens the Blue Primarch with a large quantity of mana, Zan is fed a vision in which she sees the founding members of the Iron Division drinking from the Fountain of Life. As the vision comes to an end, Scorlag asks the Halfblood to bring an elixir of life and an elixir of death as offering, and then she wakes up next to the Old Orc, who recognizes her as a member of the Iron Division. He tells her the story of her ancestors and how her sisters ended up being banished from the orc tribes in the Overworld after drinking from the Fountain of Life. He also tells her of the demonic horrors he witnessed as a liaison in the nearby salt mines which led him to running away.

Setting off to get the chisel and salt for Scrawn so he can make her a statue, Zan explores the nearby salt mine, noticing that the excavations are suspended as a result of all the slaves having been worked to death in the wake of the Baron's ritual at the top of his Citadel. While deep inside the mine, she encounters the shrine of the Red Primarch, who asks her to perform a bloody betrayal, for which she has a perfect opportunity as soon as she leaves the mine via the main access elevator. Once topside, she encounters a Wounded Bear Warrior who tells her that the Iron Division camp is about to be assaulted, and asks her to warn her sisters so they can prepare the defense.

With his sight impaired from shrapnel damage from the skirmish with the orcs, Lord Eberon mistakes Zan for a regular Hellion, entrusting her with an important task.

As it is only a short distance away, Zan assaults the demon fort where the enemy is supposed to attack from, and discovers the garrison's commander holed up in his personal chambers, with renegade demons trying to murder him from outside. After killing the attackers, Lord Eberon assumes Zan to be loyal to him and the Baron and asks her to go back to the mine and retrieve a winch wheel required to open a nearby sabotaged gate which is preventing his cultist reinforcements from attacking the orcs. Seeing an opportunity to fulfill Erudin's request by earning the Pit Lord's trust and then betray him by releasing his men into a trap, the Halfblood runs to the base camp and informs her sisters of the upcoming attack.

Rot. 509, Day 254

After locking Tiati up for her involuntary betrayal, Warlord Grund scolds Zan for leaving her own forces behind, claiming that the extra boat could have helped the I.D. carry more troops and supply across the Sea of Fire.

Captain Dura welcomes her and sends a squad to recapture the Wounded Bear's position, after which Warlord Grund berates Zan for her reckless pursuit of the Baron's fleet. Unlike Lord Murguth, she shows skepticism in regard to the Primarchs' role in defeating the Baron and begins the preparations for the final assault, giving Zan a one day deadline to gain the remaining taints.

During this time, she manages to steal the Elixir of Life from her Warlord's possession, as well as unleash Eberon's cultists upon the orc defenses, leading them into a death trap and fulfilling the bloody betrayal. After appeasing Scorlag and Erudin, she finally delivers her crimson statue to Gaun, thus obtaining the last of the taints, much to Eraanthe's disdain.

The foul energies surrounding the Baron's domain allow only tainted demon-bloods to move beyond the portal gate.

On her way out, a Reaver shows up and informs her that Grund has recalled her to base. With their supplies running short, and the demonic armies amassing from the Citadel in order to mount a counterattack, the orcs decide to waste no more time and commence the assault while they still have the initiative. Zan is tasked with leading the troops and crushing the Baron's defenders, and she manages to push them all the way back to the portal gate bordering the Citadel's bridge. Having to leave her allies and friends behind, Zan passes through the taint portal and crosses the bridge, preparing for the battle of her life.

Rot. 509, Day 255

After capturing Abhaoth, Nithriel and the Baron began to funnel her energy into powering up the beacon at the top of the citadel's spire. When released, she is too weak to aid Zan directly in the final battle, diverting her last powers to protect the warrior's mind from the Baron instead.

Although heavily outnumbered, the Halfblood continues to carve her way through the Demons' elite, slaying the citadel's guards and their garrison commander. Weary of her persistence, the Blue Baron confronts her in his throne room and uses his staggering powers to simply throw the orc in an abyssal pit, sending her plummeting towards certain death. Abedun's angel feather prevents this from happening, however, and the Bonebreaker ends up inside the Baron's vault, closer than ever to Abhaoth, who begs her to release her. Despite the Primarchs's attempts to demoralize and subdue her, the Bonebreaker places the three soul fragments in their respective locks, freeing Abhaoth from her intricate magic cell. Too weak to join Zan, she urges her to stop the now vulnerable Baron and prevent the completion of a ritual happening at the very top of the citadel's spire.

After merging with the corrupt symbiote carried inside the Seed of Corruption, Nithriel sits in a beacon pod, awaiting for the final waves of energy to finish charging it. Knowing that their chances of defeating Zan are no longer certain, the Baron decides to do everything in his power to delay the warrior from stopping the ritual's completion and as soon as Zan reaches the top, the battle begins. The Halfblood unleashes her fury without hesitation, crushing the Baron's waves of reinforcements while avoiding his spells. Seeing that he can't defeat her in physical battle, the Demon Icon attempts to trick his assailant into thinking that she had already lost.

Suddenly, Zan finds herself in the middle of an endless sea, with a giant projection of the Baron emerging from the horizon and sending massive crashing waves towards her. Figuring out what's happening, Abhaoth tries to sway Zan's mind out of her enemy's grasp, but before she can achieve much, the Baron's influence overwhelms the warrior.

The Baron tricks Zan into thinking that she has been defeated, feeding her mind with dystopian visions of the future.

After nearly drowning, Zan wakes up in Breaza's quarters, back inside Valc's Grove. Weakened and battered, she moves around the Great Stump, greeting the very last survivors of the Iron Division. It appears that their defeat has led to the Demons conquering the Underworld, and they are only allowed to live as long as they send one of their members to be sacrificed by the followers of chaos at a regular interval. Although Abhaoth's connection is reduced to faint whispers, she manages to harness Zan's anger and soon enough, the warrior is leading the survivors against the Baron's occupation force, pushing him out of her mind.

Once returned to the plain of reality, Zan resumes her relentless attack, and although the Baron attempts to defeat her using powerful mind tricks again, Abhaoth is there to keep the warrior from falling into insanity. And as the final blow reaches him, the Icon falls, at long last, exploding into a violent burst of slime and gibs. Soon reaching the top of the spire, Abhaoth darts over to Nithriel's beacon pod, desperately trying to pry the Warlock out of the device. Zan joins her immediately, but alas, their efforts prove to be in vain, and bright rays of light transport Nithriel's body away.

Following Nithriel's arrival, the ship comes to life, its engines now pushing it on a dangerous collision course.

The Elf is teleported to what appears to be a derelict spaceship. Much to her despair, the inhabitants appear to have been killed by an organism similar to the corruption.

Meanwhile, Zan grabs Abhaoth's exhausted body and flees the Baron's Citadel, the echoes of his death riling up the spirits of all the victims who were sacrificed in his name. The Icon's fall also heralded the end of the union between the demon lords, who proved more than eager to drop any plans of world domination in favour of starting a civil war that could allow them to exploit the chaos and grab more power. With the Demons in dissaray, the Iron Division and their allies put an end to their presence in the upper layers of the Underworld, securing their homes and crushing the invaders for a thousand years to come.

And as the Underworld's denizens began to slowly mend their wounds and rebuild their world, Zan was welcomed back to Valc, and hailed as the rightful hero of their home, and the Iron Division.


Gameplay

Although it runs on the GZDoom Engine and the combat style is akin to classic FPS games like Doom (first person, fast paced, projectile & movement focused), Hedon attempts to bridge this with a rather different style of level design. The maps are large and progression focuses on finding keys, solving simple puzzles, reading texts, interacting with characters and exploring a highly detailed world. In this regard, it takes inspiration from titles such as Hexen, Arx Fatalis or Thief. Hedon also makes full use of GZDoom's advanced features such as dynamic lights and custom sound reverb in order to create a strong atmosphere.

As a reflection of this, Hedon's difficulties don't only make the combat more difficult, but also remove certain guidance elements, thus further challenging the player's perception and logic.

Difficulties

There are six different difficulties in Hedon which adjust the gameplay in many ways, including the manual placement of monsters and items.

  • Greenhorn - the easiest difficulty meant for players who are new to the genre or wish to play without having to face a major challenge. This difficulty adds map markers for keys, quest item interaction spots and texts containing clues/key words. The pick-ups are aplenty, ensuring that the player will never run out of resources, even without exploring and hunting secrets. Monsters deal 50% less damage and have 30% less health;
  • HeadOn - a normal difficulty that aims to create a more relaxed feel of combat. There are few extra ammo pickups and texts containing clues/key words get marked on the automap. Monsters deal 20% less damage and have 10% less health;
  • Hedonistic - the core difficulty, providing a well rounded challenge;
  • Hardcore - a harsh difficulty meant not only to challenge a player's combat skill, but also their wit and resource management. There are less ammo pickups laying in the open, and texts no longer contain highlighted clues/key words. Monsters deal 50% more damage;
  • Brutalizing - a chaotic difficulty that shifts the gameplay towards more combat and carnage. There are many new monster spawns, and tougher monsters appear earlier in game, but the player is also given access to more ammo and stronger weapons earlier on to dispatch this new threat. Extra companions are also spawned on this difficulty and if the player finds and recruits them they will follow across levels, sometimes making their own comments and observations. Monsters deal 50% more damage and have 10% more health;
  • Bearzerk - a special difficulty that removes access to standard weapons and instead brings a new arsenal of melee weapons which heavily alter the combat gameplay. Monster and item spawn parameters are similar to Brutalizing, but there is a random factor that replaces ammo drops with consumables and healing potions.

Combat & Weapons

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Hedon's combat is violent, fast paced and most importantly projectile-based, which makes movement the primary way of staying alive. Enemies vary in design, each having their own abilities, strengths and weaknesses. Each weapon available to the player features primary and alternative fire modes, and the player is always able to perform quick kicks.

Health & Armor

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Zan's life mainly depends on her health counter and what protects her from losing health. Instead of armor, she wears crystal amulets which provide full body protection without costing her any mobility.

Inventory & Consumables

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Aside from weapons, Hedon's arsenal is comprised of on an array of consumables which enhance Zan's combat capabilities:

Quest Items & Keys

QuestItems Keys.png
In order to progress through the levels, the player will often be required to find (or craft) certain puzzle items (also named "Quest Items") as well as use them in the right place. These items share the same inventory space with the consumables, except they are only used directly when interacting with their required world object/destination. In addition to Quest Items, Hedon also employs a classic locked door system where the player needs to find certain keys before advancing through locked parts of the levels.


Lore

Hedon's story and lore is fairly rich and features its own workings, conflicts and relationships, encouraging the player to always learn more by paying attention to detail and exploring. The most common ways of learning about the world is through logs and notes left behind by different characters, but by also reading the environment and piecing data together.

Locations

Factions

Characters

Main Characters

  • Zan
  • Captain Dura
  • Reaver Tiati
  • Lancer Dendra
  • Witch Chieftain Zura
  • Witch Chieftain-Adjunct Lith
  • Nithriel
  • Abhaoth
  • Warlord Grund
  • Grand Earth Mother Breaza
  • High Priest Jaromir
  • Minotaur Lord Murguth
  • Lady Ingrim
  • Blue Baron
  • Matron Yzbeth

Secondary Characters

Tertiary Characters


Enemies

Friendlies

Critters


Deities

Elemental Gods

Self Worship

  • Mind
  • Body
  • Spirit

Demon Primarchs

  • Primarch Gaun
  • Primarch Adur
  • Primarch Elzriel
  • Primarch Scorlag
  • Primarch Erudin


Soundtrack

Hedon's soundtrack is often bold and steps up from the being a simple background sound. It ranges from chilling and atmospheric to bursts of heavy metal and lively mod music. The entire soundtrack consists of works from various artists.

  • Akhzul - Hedon's OST dedicated composer, Akhzul began his career composing once with the game's development. His first track, Cold Rock encompasses his style for creating an atmosphere with its own personality that doubles and enhances that of the level itself, all with just one guitar. It is to note that several times his music dictated the flow of the level design instead of it being the other way around (with tracks such as Pale Wind or Longing).
  • Alexander Brandon - a true legend from the mod scene, Alexander Brandon has composed scores for many games including Jazz Jackrabbit, Unreal and Deus Ex. Expressing an interest in Hedon, he allowed the license purchase for some of his personal tracks, including The Craftsman (written as a homage to his roots in video game music), One Calm Day, Heavy (also known as Conspiravision playing in the Deus Ex secret ending) and Underworld (an iconic track initially composed for Unreal but never made it past the beta version of the game).
  • Breathelast - an alternative/hardcore metal band formed in 2010 and based in Bucharest, Breathelast allowed for some of their instrumentals to be used in Hedon, including the iconic main menu song, Sinking Ships and the metal tracks that play during arena segments: Ascuns în Pereți (Bath House fight), Dead Coins (Grove Portal fight) and Unsung Foes (Pit Lord Alpha fight).
  • Methadone Skies - another Romanian band, this time playing psychedelic/progressive/stoner metal. Their masterpiece instrumental tracks, Exit the Void and Hyperspace build up the eerie atmosphere of Map06 - Errant Signal.
  • Shivaxi & Xenofish - Youtuber, streamer and electronic music composer, Shivaxi is also a great fan of Unreal. With the help of his friend, Xenofish, he made a remix of the aforementioned Alexander Brandon's Underworld, which plays during the second part of the final level.

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