Arx Fatalis (PC)

by PaulEMoz in , , ,

This wasn't my original choice for today... but my original choice didn't work, so I needed a replacement. Arx Fatalis has been sitting on my hard drive, unplayed, for ages, so it was a convenient stand-in.

Arx Fatalis is a role-playing game. That's a genre I've always convinced myself I like, mainly because of the thirteen months I spent completing The Bard's Tale between 1987 and 1988. In reality, though, most of the ones I've played I've found fairly boring.

And yet, I've found myself travelling that lonely path yet again. Arx Fatalis sees you in a world with no sun, where all the planet's inhabitants have been forced to band together to create an underground habitat in order to survive. But now that they've been down there a while, the bond is breaking and squabbling is, once again, the order of the day.

Whyyyyy, yoooou... I oughtta strangle you with my bare hands!

Your character finds himself imprisoned and with no memory. Isn't that always the way? Of course, the first task is to find a way out, and once that is done, start trying to piece together your life and eke out a new existence, before finding what your true mission is.

It's fairly standard stuff... walk around, get attacked by a rat, kill the rat, eat the rat. Oddly, you can bray the crap out of a rat with a giant bone and it will keep coming back for more, but one punch from you and it's dead. Obviously, you don't know your own strength. Rat meat, along with other foodstuffs, can be cooked before eating, which makes it more nutritious. Quite a cool idea, although I'm sure other games must have used this as well.

The dank, brown atmosphere made our hero think he'd been transported onto the Commodore 64...

Another cool idea is the magic system. You find runes on your travels, and what do runes make? Spells. To cast a spell, you use the mouse to draw the relevant rune symbols in the air. Draw them successfully, and the spell will be cast. I played about five minutes of Morrowind once (but I'll be playing that one in more depth for the blog at some point...) and I seem to remember it used a similar system. Could be wrong, though.

Arx Fatalis, research has uncovered, was intended to be Ultima Underworld III. Makes no difference to me, I haven't played any of the other Ultimas (have I played anything in my life?). But it is a pretty decent, if very murky and brown game, with a fairly interesting control system. If I can find the time, I might see myself getting on with this one OK. But that's a pretty big "if".