Arx Fatalis, the 2003 shooter RPG, was too good to completely destroy the Elder Scrolls

A decade ago Arkane Studios would create a stealth sandbox as smooth as silk humiliationit debuted – a completely dirtier variety of first person action RPG called Arx Fatalis. Unfortunately, the developer released it just a few months after something called Morrowind. Both games are chock-full of things that a particular breed of anorak has to sweat: courtiers of quarrelsome gods, weapon durability, monstrous controls, a leveled system formed by an absolute lunatic, mushroom. The only difference between the games is that Arx Fatalis is less concerned with how powerful the player feels.

The Elder Scrolls are fantasies of absolute power, built entirely around freedom and allowing players to fulfill their LARP dreams without going outside. Sure, players usually start in sequence, but within 10 minutes they’ll be roaming the gorgeous countryside and throwing fireballs out of every vent. In Arx Fatalis, the chains never actually come off. There is no article after tutorial, no sense of surprise when you step out of the starting area and look at the possibilities that stretch to the horizon. That Big moment – the thrill of your eyes adjusting to the light when you leave Vault 101 or when Link wakes up from his 100-year nap? In Arx Fatalis, it never came. Because Arx Fatalis is set in a cave.

All Arx Fatalis are placed in a cave. You never leave the cave. When you exit a cave, you just need to go to another cave. The world of Arx had lost its sun, and every archetypal fantasy race was forced to share in the depths of the earth. You spend the opening hours desperate to attack the rats with a bone you picked up from a pile. You tear the mouse meat, heat it by the fire and enjoy it while hunched over in your pants. In the end, when you try to drag yourself to the human city, you’ll be shocked to discover that it’s just another cave. It’s caves all the way down. But what caves are they?

It’s hard to think of a braver pitch than an RPG set entirely in a cave. Say the words “RPG” and “cave” and how do you feel? Do you think about the miserable hours spent in the gray tunnels of Oblivion? Are you thinking of having to visit the same cave with slightly different backgrounds 10000 times in Dragon Age 2? Caves are often the lowest point of a video game – where creativity dies. They are not conducive to the feeling of freedom, to the articulation of the player’s power. They are there for fodder, as Content packs are easy to generate, where the player can find premium panties gradually over the course of 500 hours. When was the last time you visited a cave with personality? Each cave in Arx Fatalis is a small work of art – conveying an atmosphere so wet and horrible that if you play for more than an hour you will feel the need to turn on the heater.

The physical sensation will really shine in Arkane’s next release – Dark Messiah of Might & Magic – which also appears in Arx. Cooking something literally means pulling it out of your bag and placing it on the dirty ground next to a fire. The flesh darkens and the dough rises. Rocks can be picked up and thrown around the room to distract enemies. You can decorate a room with ferns and flowers or create a pile of skulls on someone’s doorstep. When a cult leaves a decapitated chicken in your bed, you can carry it arm lengths and throw it into the hallway, making it someone else’s problem.

This method of tactile interaction also extends to the magic system. Cast a spell that involves carelessly spelling combinations of runes in front of you. In real time, usually when a lich is charging you. From memory, the ideal is – although very few spells produce any form of memorization, so you will frequently refer to your spellbook while in battle.

You feel less like an almighty mage and more like a mage of a group of young people fighting for his life to statistic ancient knowledge completely beyond his grasp. A system that lets you pre-submit three spells feels like the kind of deal that wouldn’t happen if ‘Arx Fatalis’ were released in today’s market, where there’s a more mainstream interest in the host games. player-versus-player action. In Elder Scrolls, magic is Fun, often allowing players to disrupt the world in amazing ways: clearing buildings within a single confines, running around at 100mph. In Arx Fatalis, the most interesting feat of witchcraft is being able to slowly hover half a meter above the ground.


Arx Fatalis is a whopping $4.99 / £2.99 on Steam and can be easily modified to look razor-sharp on modern screens. There’s a lot of work to be done to make the orthographic inputs more believable, and if you really want to, you can download 4.5GB of AI-upgraded textures. I don’t know how it works. I think they force a robot to think a lot about rocks. The thing is, Arx Fatalis is the third prong of a Role-playing set in a cave Holy Trinity, powered by Avernum and Breath of Fire V Dragon Quarter. Just tell me that doesn’t excite you.

I don’t know anything about The Elder Scrolls 6, but I feel safe assuming it will big. That it will have the smoothest, most satisfying battle. Bethesda will continue to eliminate those lingering friction and discomfort, ensuring that players have even less of a hindrance to their desire to be Billy Big Baws.

But you don’t feel strong enough yet? Don’t you want to have a miserable time in a big cave for a few hours? It builds character. Skyrim will still be there, on any platform it may be working on, when you need it. So give Arx Fatalis a try, if you haven’t already, and let it show you what a bad time can really feel like. Arx Fatalis, the 2003 shooter RPG, was too good to completely destroy the Elder Scrolls

Fry Electronics Team

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