Review of Arx Fatalis (PC)
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UK Boxshot of Arx Fatalis (PC)
US Boxshot of Arx Fatalis (PC)
UK RELEASE: 08-Nov-2002 (Released)  | NORDIC RELEASE: 08-Nov-2002 (Released) |  US RELEASE: 11-Nov-2002 (Released)
  Review of: Arx Fatalis | By: Ronny Guttormsen
05 Dec-2002

JoWood and Arkane Studios presents their latest adventure. Get ready to go underground!

The sun has fallen from the sky. All the races have moved underground, with the help of the Sisters and the Dwarves, building up large underground cities in the abandoned mines found there. You find yourself in the kingdom of Arx, living among Goblins, Trolls, Humans, Dwarves, Ratmen, and other kind of races, in almost perfect harmony. The peace between them is about to fail, as a result of the way they’ve been treating each other. Not a minute too soon you take the role as a guardian. You purpose is to save the world from the wicked God Akbaa, which is about to be summoned by an evil sect within the human race.


When starting a new campaign, you proceed to create and modify your character. There’s naturally a quick generating function, but no pre made classes like warriors, archers, or wizards. After placing all your skill points onto the character in a typical manner, you’re spawned into the land of Arx to fight evil and prevent total destruction.

Waking up, you find yourself lying on the floor, not remembering a thing. After opening you’re eyes, you realise you’re being held prisoner by Goblins. The man in the next cell calls to you, wanting you to help him escape from this forsaken place. Escaping a prison cell isn’t the easiest thing to do, but you manage to slip trough the metal bars, and by picking up a large bone you knock out the patrolling guard. After walking over to the next cell and opening it, you are faced with a new friend, Kultar. Kultar is a member of the Travellers guild, and you’re given the name Am Shaegar (meaning, he who has no name). From there on, it's up to you to make your own destiny.

The monster A.I. in Arx Fatalis is one of the better I’ve seen in games up to date. Different races act differently when in battle. A goblin will rather scream and run for help than stand and fight, while a troll would call for backup and then just charge you without waiting for his companions. Generally in combat situations, the weaker opponent would normally flee for help when attacked or if gotten heavily wounded. A final example is when certain monsters attack; they’ll retreat after their first blow to prevent getting hurt themselves. This makes them harder to kill.


The graphic in Arx Fatalis are well made, and does a good job building up the atmospheric environment of the game. The textures are also well balanced and nice to look at. Creatures and characters in Arx Fatalis are made more real like using bump mapping, and they’re not behaving like a walking box-man. Magical effects are both cool and professionally made, making it a pleasure carving up a rune to crush some puny monster. The game sadly has some minor graphical flaws. In addition, the game crashed several times, running the newest Nvidia drivers on my GeForce 3 card. Previous drivers had to be downloaded in order to get the game to run properly. Hopefully, this will get fixed in future patches, or maybe it already has been while I’m writing these words. Still, it’s really no excuse since the game’s been released and played for quite a while now.


Sound effects are an important part of a game, and really build up the excitement while playing. Arkane Studios have put a lot of work into making the sound effects really work in Arx Fatalis. The cut scenes and dialogs are really good, and one can clearly hear the difference between the races and specific persons while playing. First time I heard goblins speak, I quickly made up my mind in regards to their general behaviour. There’s no in-game music to build up extra tension and excitement in Arx Fatalis. Though sometimes annoying in games, I still missed the background feel I got from games like Alien vs. Predator.


Arx Fatalis uses a first person view, and Arkane Studios have succeeded in making this a user-friendly experience. Spell casting is made more a skill of the player than just a press of a button, like in many other RPG’s. The spell casting is build upon runes and the combination of these. To perform a spell, one has to draw the specific rune using the mouse. Kinda like what was used in the Black&White games. This way, I felt more like a wizard than just a button-pressing geek - Be gone you evil man, ZAP. You can even assign pre-cast spells onto the keyboard, for easier use while fighting. This way you don’t have to make the rune every time you perform the magic.

During fights, the longer you press and hold down the mouse button, the harder you’re character will strike. You also have the opportunity of targeting specific body parts of the opposing creature. Better strikes are awarded with double damage, and can become crucial in combat if you’re running low on hit points. A drawback regarding combat situations is that when drawing the sword, there’s very little control regarding how the next strike will turn out. It was rather difficult to predict if it would end up as a stab or as a hard slash across.


Arx Fatalis is an all over good game. The plot is a well-used one throughout the history of gaming in regards to the races used, the beginning character setup, and saving the world form destruction part (why fix it, if it isn’t broken, hah). The way the game is constructed makes it a enjoyable experience, having a good laugh of the goblins way of talking (kinda reminded me of Yoda in Star Wars), casting the most dreadful spells by carving the rune with your mouse, or just running through the game slashing you’re opponents in half. The game’s definitely worth a try both for hardcore Role Playing Gamers, and for those of you out there whom prefers playing First Person Shooters (...if you wanna get a little bit of RPG-lovin’ in your lives that is).

Click to enlarge this screenshot of Arx Fatalis (PC)
Click to enlarge this screenshot of Arx Fatalis (PC)
Click to enlarge this screenshot of Arx Fatalis (PC)
Click to enlarge this screenshot of Arx Fatalis (PC)
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