Arx Fatalis is an action role-playing video game developed by Arkane Studios and released for Microsoft Windows in 2002 and Xbox in 2003. The game is played from a first-person perspective and is set on a world whose sun has failed, forcing the above-ground creatures to take refuge in caverns. The game's mechanics include the use of mouse gestures to cast spells. Arx Fatalis received mostly positive reviews from critics but was not commercially successful.
Arx Fatalis (Latin for "fatal fortress") is set on a world whose sun has failed, forcing the above-ground creatures to take refuge in caverns. The action in Arx Fatalis takes place in one of these large caves, where the members of various races, such as Trolls, Goblins, Dwarves, Humans, etc., have made their homes on various levels of the cave. The player awakens inside a prison cell and, after making his escape, eventually discovers his mission is to subvert and imprison the God of Destruction, Akbaa, who is trying to manifest itself in Arx.
Arx Fatalis features somewhat open-ended gameplay, allowing the player to allocate skill points for their character type in skills such as spellcasting, weapons and armour, stealth, and so on. There are several side quests that can be undertaken. A simple crafting system involves enchanting ammunition and weapons, or creating items, such as a fishing rod (fishing pole and rope), keyrings (key and ring), or pies (dough and rolling pin, optional apple and optional bottle of wine). Raw food can be cooked, like rounds of bread, chicken drumsticks, or pies. The main plot line is non-linear with the player collecting the various items to forge a sword required to defeat Akbaa in a final showdown. Additional goals come up such as dealing with the rebels of Arx, the snake women and The King of Arx. The player can resolve the conflict between them all and experience several different endings to the conflict with different consequences somewhat affecting the story.
There is no dialogue system in Arx Fatalis. Rather, the player makes choices through actions which lead to different consequences. There are also multiple ways to finish quests and the player can progress through the game in several different ways. For example, the player can use force to kill enemies and break down doors, or they can use stealth and avoid enemies.
One of the intuitive interfaces in Arx Fatalis is the spellcasting system. Using the mouse and the control key, runes are drawn in mid-air with mouse gestures, which must be correctly drawn in order to successfully cast a spell. The player can find or buy different runes as gameplay progresses, combinations of which unlock new spells.
This gestural interface was simplified in the Xbox version to account for the limitations of the joypad. Each direction of the directional pad corresponds to a different mouse direction and different combinations of directions are entered with the directional pad to draw runes and correspondingly cast spells. A queue of up to three spells can be cast in advance, ready to be activated at the press of a button. There is also an instant magic mode that allows the player to simply select the desired spell they want to cast from a list of learned spells during gameplay.
In addition, Arx Fatalis supports a stealth mode that is active when a stealth icon is visible on the interface. In stealth mode, usually when a player is in dark or shadowy areas, non-player characters cannot see them.
The design of Arx Fatalis was influenced by games from the now-defunct Looking Glass Studios, especially Ultima Underworld. Arkane Studios have stated that Arx Fatalis was intended to be Ultima Underworld III; however, while Raphaël Colantonio had support from Paul Neurath, one of the original developers of Ultima Underworld, Electronic Arts, who owned the rights, would not allow Arkane to make a sequel with their intellectual property unless he accepted some of their provisions. Colantonio refused to accept this and instead had Arkane set out on the game in the spirit of Ultima Underworld. Colantonio had difficulty in getting a publisher; with finances nearly exhausted, they had signed one small publisher who had gone bankrupt within the month, but later secured JoWooD Productions for publication, eventually releasing in 2002.
Arx Fatalis was released for Microsoft Windows in 2002 and for the Xbox in 2003. In April 2007, Arx Fatalis was released on the digital distribution platform Steam, followed by GOG.com in December 2008.
On 14 January 2011, Arkane Studios released a 1.21 patch and the game's source code under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL). Based upon this source code, the Arx Libertatis project was formed to fix bugs and incompatibilities, and to port the game to operating systems such as Linux, FreeBSD and the OpenPandora handheld. As of September 2021,[update] the most recent Arx Libertatis release is version 1.2.
|PC Gamer (US)||85%||N/A|
While the game was well received, it was considered a commercial failure. The PC version of Arx Fatalis received "generally favourable reviews", while the Xbox version received "average" reviews, according to the review aggregation website Metacritic.
Arx Fatalis was released after the more successful fantasy role-playing games The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and Neverwinter Nights, with reviewers stating that although it is not as open as Morrowind, it will appeal to fans that like dungeon-crawler RPGs, paying homage to games like Ultima: Underworld.
GameSpot's Greg Kasavin was pleased with the experience that the PC version offered, stating that "Arx Fatalis is entertaining and great looking, and it should especially appeal to fans of other atmospheric first-person games, including Thief: The Dark Project, System Shock 2, and Deus Ex, let alone this year's Morrowind. Though marred by some technical issues (many of which have already been addressed by patches) and at times confusing to navigate in, Arx Fatalis nevertheless delivers a memorable, original role-playing experience", and IGN's Dan Adams enjoyed the same PC version, stating that "The atmosphere, spell system, puzzles, voices, and story were good and interesting enough to give me a pretty enjoyable experience."
Arx Fatalis was nominated as 2002's best computer role-playing game by Computer Gaming World, GameSpot and the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. It was also a runner-up for RPG Vault's "Surprise of the Year" and "Debut Game of the Year" awards, and for GameSpot's "Best Sound" and the Game Developers Choice Awards' "Rookie Studio of the Year" prizes. It won RPG Vault's award for sound design that year. The editors of Computer Gaming World wrote that Arx Fatalis "has hands-down the most annoying interface of the year, but fortunately, it also sports sharp graphics [...] and a great story".
Arx Fatalis' critical praise gave Arkane the opportunity to work with Valve to develop a new title on their Source engine, and Colantonio opted to make a sequel, Arx Fatalis 2. However, the poor sales of the first game made it difficult to find a publisher. Arkane was eventually approached by Ubisoft and asked to apply the Arx Fatalis game engine to their Might and Magic. This became Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, released in October 2006. It refined the first-person melee combat of Arx Fatalis with a lesser emphasis on role-playing elements. During this time, Colantonio moved from France to Austin, Texas, leaving the main studio in the hands of his colleagues while he set up Arkane Austin in June 2006. Colantonio left the studio in 2017 to concentrate on smaller projects.
To celebrate Arkane Studios' 20th anniversary, the game was made available for free on PC from 28–31 May 2020.
- Brett Todd (20 March 2002). "Arx Fatalis Preview". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on 12 April 2018. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
- Russ Pitts (27 June 2012). "The Mirror Men of Arkane". Polygon. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
- "News: Arx Fatalis On Steam Now". Gamers Hell. 5 April 2007. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
- Matthew Humphries (21 April 2012). "Arx Libertatis: cross-platform port of Arx Fatalis released". Geek.com. Ziff Davis. Archived from the original on 19 June 2018. Retrieved 1 October 2019.
What's interesting about Arx Fatalis is that development of the game started up again last year. Arkane Studios released patch 1.21 and with it open-sourced the engine. That led to a new project called Arx Libertatis, which aimed to update the game to be played on multiple modern operating systems including Windows and Linux.
- "Arx Fatalis". Arkane Studios. Archived from the original on 5 April 2015. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
- "arx/ArxLibertatis". GitHub. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
- "Arx Libertatis". Repo.OpenPandora.org. 10 November 2013.
- "Arx Libertatis 1.2 "Mega Mega Mega" released". arx-libertatis.org. 7 July 2021. Retrieved 30 September 2021.
- "Arx Fatalis Türkçe yama" [Arx Fatalis Turkish patch] (in Turkish). 20 July 2012. Archived from the original on 16 July 2016. Retrieved 30 September 2021.
- "[미완성] 악스 파탈리스 (Arx Fatalis) - 한글 패치 배포" [(Unfinished) Arx Fatalis - Korean patch distribution]. NSM53 PROJECT (in Korean). 20 August 2010. Retrieved 30 September 2021.
- "Arx Fatalis (PC)". Computer Games Magazine. No. 146. theGlobe.com. January 2003. p. 70.
- "Arx Fatalis (Xbox)". Computer Games Magazine. No. 161. theGlobe.com. April 2004. p. 7.
- Robert Coffey (March 2003). "Arx Fatalis" (PDF). Computer Gaming World. No. 224. Ziff Davis. pp. 94–95. Retrieved 1 October 2019.
- "Arx Fatalis (Xbox)". Edge. No. 132. Future plc. January 2004. p. 111.
- Rob Fahey (5 November 2002). "Arx Fatalis (PC)". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
- Ronan Jennings (25 February 2004). "Arx Fatalis (Xbox)". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Archived from the original on 29 September 2014. Retrieved 1 October 2019.
- Lisa Mason (January 2004). "Arx Fatalis (Xbox)". Game Informer. No. 129. GameStop. p. 150. Archived from the original on 9 March 2008. Retrieved 2 October 2019.
- Brian Clevinger (January 2003). "Arx Fatalis Review (PC)". Game Revolution. CraveOnline. Archived from the original on 4 April 2004. Retrieved 2 October 2019.
- Manny LaMancha (13 November 2003). "Arx Fatalis Review for Xbox on GamePro.com". GamePro. IDG Entertainment. Archived from the original on 4 February 2005. Retrieved 2 October 2019.
- Greg Kasavin (22 November 2002). "Arx Fatalis Review (PC)". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
- Greg Kasavin (17 November 2003). "Arx Fatalis Review (Xbox)". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 1 October 2019.
- William Abner (23 November 2002). "GameSpy: Arx Fatalis (PC)". GameSpy. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved 2 October 2019.
- Zach Meston (13 November 2003). "GameSpy: Arx Fatalis (Xbox)". GameSpy. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved 2 October 2019.
- Michael Lafferty (26 November 2002). "Arx Fatalis - PC - Review". GameZone. Archived from the original on 5 October 2008. Retrieved 2 October 2019.
- Michael Lafferty (30 December 2003). "Arx Fatalis - XB - Review". GameZone. Archived from the original on 6 October 2008. Retrieved 2 October 2019.
- Dan Adams (11 November 2002). "Arx Fatalis (PC)". IGN. Ziff Davis. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
- David Clayman (1 April 2004). "Arx Fatalis (Xbox)". IGN. Ziff Davis. Retrieved 1 October 2019.
- "Arx Fatalis". Official Xbox Magazine. Future US. January 2004. p. 76.
- "Arx Fatalis". PC Gamer. Vol. 10 no. 1. Future US. January 2003. p. 86.
- "Arx Fatalis for PC Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
- "Arx Fatalis for Xbox Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
- "6th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards: Winners". Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. Archived from the original on 4 April 2004. Retrieved 10 September 2018.
- GameSpot staff. "GameSpot's Best and Worst of 2002 (Best Role-Playing Game on PC, Nominees)". GameSpot. CNET. Archived from the original on 7 February 2003. Retrieved 1 October 2019.
- CGW staff (April 2003). "Computer Gaming World's 2002 Games of the Year (RPG of the Year)" (PDF). Computer Gaming World. No. 225. Ziff Davis. p. 88. Retrieved 1 October 2019.
- "2002 RPG Vault Awards". RPG Vault. Vault Network. 13 January 2003. Archived from the original on 18 September 2007. Retrieved 10 September 2018.
- GameSpot staff. "GameSpot's Best and Worst of 2002 (Best Sound on PC)". GameSpot. CNET. Archived from the original on 23 December 2002. Retrieved 1 October 2019.
- "Archive | 3rd Annual Game Developers Choice Awards". Game Developers Conference. Archived from the original on 3 July 2011.
- "Arkane: 20 Years". Bethesda. 28 May 2020. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
- Official website via Internet Archive
- Arx Fatalis at Arkane Studios via Internet Archive
- Arx Fatalis at MobyGames