Arx Fatalis

Arx Fatalis

Originally released for PC in late 2002, Arx Fatalis is a first-person real-time RPG set in an atmospheric, subterranean setting. Much of the game’s pleasure is had by simply stumbling around and getting lost in its architectural splendor. The exceedingly angular graphics are definitely not optimized for Xbox, but their unique artistic flavor makes up for it; this art wouldn’t be out of place in an issue of Heavy Metal.

Arx Fatalis’ best feature—inspired, like almost everything else in the game, by the PC classic Ultima Underworld—is the ability to pick up and use almost everything you see, from wooden chairs to healing herbs. Much of the game’s puzzle solving requires an equal amount of careful exploration and item manipulation. The real-time combat and spellcasting are visceral highlights, with a multitude of attack and death animations. Also, your enemies are smart enough to run like hell if they’re about to croak.

With its open-ended structure and unusual story line, Arx Fatalis is the polar opposite of traditional console RPGs, and that’s why I like it so much. Put on your RPG beer goggles and you’ll find a remarkable game world beneath the rough presentation.

Copyright © 2003 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in GMR Magazine.