If I were to ask what PC dungeon crawler First Person RPG you played way back in the mid 2000s you'd probably say to me Morrowind. And with good reason, it's one of the best.
But at the same time, another game came out by Arcane Studios that was shadowed by the success of Morrowind, a cult gem if you will of classic 3D PC gaming now all but virtuall forgotten save for a few souls who sought this title. What is Arx Fatalis? Is it good? Pros and Cons? Here's the run down.
Arx Fatalis is a first person semi-linear dungeon crawler where you play the role of Am Shaegar, a fantasy John Doe who wakes to find himself naked in a goblin prison in a world where the sun has died and the surviving peoples habitate in underground fortress cities and mines. The story follows Am Shaegar as he seeks to reclaim his memory, but along the way gets tossed into a series of events that could mean the end of the peoples of Arx and even the world.
While the story is strong in the beginning, by the middle act the it becomes predictable and there aren't any big plot twists or holy hell I didn't see that coming moments, but many of the characters and races of creatures of encounter and/or fight make that journey from start to finish interesting.
Because this game is well over 10 years old, it hasn't aged well in terms of graphics. Even Morrowind, however, suffers the same issue, so don't take this as a con persay. However, I've found that the Steam version is a tad glitchy with its sounds or even graphics, whether that is an error on my end or not I can't be sure.
Combat in this game is fun but takes a bit of time to get used to since depth in this world is a bit strange feeling when compared to modern first person games. There are dozens of weapons to find, enchant and utilize to bring death to the menagerie of baddies laid before you.
Puzzles in this game are much like classic D&D puzzles or even old PC adventure games, which means they range from no ♥♥♥♥ easy to what the ♥♥♥♥ hard on the first playthrough. The magic system is also unique and I wished that Arcane had taken the time to re-explore that in later titles because the concept of drawing magic spells to cast them on the screen is quite fun, though a nightmare in the heat of combat.
Difficulty can be...well, all over the board. Some enemies are unfairly overpowered even when you are higher level and certain spells and items that make fighting them easier aren't made clear in the game itself and are discovered through trial and error or game FAQs.
Pros: There are some horror elements and classic RPG elements that make this game feel like a classic. It's not difficult to pick up and get into, the characters and world is quite interesting, and the sound design is haunting (I seriously made a recording years ago of just background sounds in this game to use for Table Top role playing). The magic system takes getting used to along with combat, but once is mastered can make it hard to go back to other games of that time.
Cons: The game is sadly glitchy, the graphics did not age well and can lead to some headaches and eye strain during the first few minutes of play. Combat ranges from easy to unbeatable, puzzles aren't really spelled out, the map system needs work, and the story gets weak by the middle of the game.
All in all I rank this a 3 out of 5, its a game from my youth that I loved that nostalgia draws me back to for fond memories and aggrivating flashbacks of unkillable bosses. Its well worth the price here on steam and there are patches and mods all over the internet that fix some of these complaints. I'd like to see an HD revamp or even remake of this game, so fingers crossed.