Retro Game Spotlight: Arx Fatalis

In my recent post I mentioned Dishonored II and gave it some praise. It is well earned since Dishonored is truly an exceptional game, some would say one of its kind and it wouldn’t be too far away from truth. However there are those of us who can help but feel a strange similarity to an older game when playing through Dishonored.

Most of you have probably never heard about the game called Arx Fatalis. Why is this important? This game is a direct spiritual predecessor to a Dishonored franchise. It is made by the same people, the Arkane Studios and it is a fairly similar game having a hub like open world where the players are free to act as they see fit, just like in Dishonored.

Arx Fatalis is an open world but deliberately chooses not to be completely a sandbox game (learn more about open world and sendbox games here). It came out around the same time as the critically acclaimed The Elder Scrolls III Morrowind which was kinda working against it since Morrowind was a huge deal back in its day, especially when it cames to role playing and it literally overshadowed pretty much every game trying to introduce open world and to an extent sandbox elements.

Arx Fatalis is a game about exploration which allows for a very authentic role play experience. It is one of the rare games that provides the player with equal amount of challenge and fun no matter what role you choose to play and no matter what side you pick. Unlike most of the modern games that try to present as much of their content to a player during one play through as possible, Arx Fatalis options out for a replayability rather than for a lengthy play through but this does not mean that the game itself is not very rich and lengthy experience for a single play through.

It perfectly blends the genres of exploration adventure with the semi open world mechanics allowing the player to gradually progress throughout the areas but not letting them wander off too far for their own good. This creates a feeling of an open world without restrictions, invisible barriers or similar immersion breaking mechanics making you feel as though you actually belong in the world that you inhabit.

Other than its thoughtfully designed open world and character development, the game features one of the most interesting spell casting mechanics ever seen in a video game. Holding down the cast button brings up the cursor which you use to draw runes on screen. Specific combinations of runes have specific effects so playing a mage requires you to actually memorize all the different combinations in order to play efficiently. In my case this actually contributed greatly to the feel of being a mage.

Last but not least, there is the fact that some people would perhaps like to experience a bit of that Dishonored feel but are simply not able to do so due to the technical limitations of their hardware and there’s a great probability that this game will run as smooth as possible no matter how under powered you computer is so, there’s another reason to give it a go.