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Replaying: Arx Fatalis (summary & impressions)

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So, I think the game was actually playable if set to win 95 compatibility + "disable visual themes" and with the 1.18 patch. With playable, I'm not referring to the gameplay, but to the technical issues. When this game crashes, then it crashes hard and with a brutal blue screen of death.

The technical stuff aside, I enjoyed myself a lot in this replay.

It begins really with the introduction cutscene. Some old wizard is apparently telling the background story (the sun of this planet went out and all the people and creatures went underground to survive the -273C temperatures of the surface). In the middle of this, the wizard gets assassinated by a ratman, and the rest of the cutscene is spent showing how the ratman escapes the guards. When I first saw this, my expectation of the game was that I'd be that ratman in the game; "the adventures of the ratling assassin". :P

This isn't the case though.

You're a man, with the choice of 4 different appearances (neutral looking, thuggish looking, rougish looking, and mage-like looking). No matter which appearance you chose, you've full freedom to develop your stats to your liking.

I went for a nerdy thief. 20 intelligence, 20 dexterity (6 strength and 6 constitution); highly skilled in stealth, object knowledge (identifies magical objects), spellcasting, lockpicking; mediocre skilled in "ethereal link" (because of the mana regeneration), ranged combat, and neglecting the rest.

Basically my first action was to boost my stealth to the point where it becomes possible to pick pockets, and I stole it all. Literally.

Then I sold it all.

Then I waited for opportunities to steal it back from the shopkeepers, to sell it again.

The fun with Arx is that you thus can have - completely legit - early access to areas you aren't really supposed to be at yet; and the NPCs have responses for this. Somebody anticipated that a cleptomaniac would have early access to those keys, and made the NPCs ready for premature visits of these players.

That is lovely.

I also liked the crafting aspect of the game. You know, the "flour+water = dough. Dough+rolling pin = cookie dough. Cookie dough+Apple = apple pie. Pour wine over it to make it worth more money at the shopkeeper. Roast it in a fireplace. Delicious. :P "

The interface is clunky, but combining items did amuse me.

Another feature worth mentioning is the magic in this game. You don't just press "1 for fireball". Nope. You find runes (mouse movements), learn how to combine them (for instance: "Ahm" (Create) + "Yok" (Fire) + "Taar" (Projectile) = Fireball), and then you draw these runes on your screen. Spellcasting becomes much more a matter of skill of the player in this way than you normally see in these games.

Story... well. This isn't "the adventures of the ratling assassin", and this isn't really "the adventures of a guy who wanted to be the ratling cleptomaniac". This is "the story of a supernatural being who was sent on this planet to prevent an evil god from manifesting itself".

Sounds cheesy, and I agree.

But during this replay, the certain little bits that make the plot not a lawful-good adventure at all, became more obvious to me than before.

Some examples.

1. well, thanks to my interference here, the snakewomen will die out or did die out or did just leave. Sounds great perhaps, but it was the magic of these snakes that made the underground caves hospitable for all these people. So, what will happen now that the snakes are gone?

... and this is the "good" outcome of how I solved certain things. The other outcomes leave bitter tastes of different flavours.

2. it's possible that this evil god indeed intended to bring the sun back to this planet (however he might wanted to do this... I don't care). By stopping him from manifesting himself, this was prevented.

I also erm "had to" kill the wise old dragon, because one of her eggs -which she gives to the player voluntarily in exchange for money- was needed for a special bow that I wanted. And the other is needed for the endgame. She doesn't give more than this one egg, and she is rather hostile if you just take it and try to leave.

I guess I could just have run away, that's right.

But that doesn't change the fact that the dragon was kind before her death.

Yeah well. I guess it's very similar to Morrowind. When you complete that game's storyline, the outcome is also not quite in the sense of "and they lived happily ever after" ... nope. Thanks to your interference, a few years later, the magics will fail that held that meteor in place over the main city of that land. The meteor will come crashing down, the volcano will erupt, and the dunmer will be no more... or at least, very much reduced in numbers.

And all that only so that a mad daedric prince(ss) will be back as the subject of the worship of these loonies. Sounds great and reasonable, eh?

But I like these plots more than the naive "and they lived happily ever after" plots.

But, one thing stings me a bit: Cartomancer said that he ended up with 50,000,000 gold coins in this game? I did something wrong... I only had 260,000ish coins in the end. ;)

But I know where I could've gotten some more coins out of these hapless shopkeepers now.

- repair items before selling them to Miguel (200€ instead of 10€ for a sword? Yummy)
- use Miguel's schedule better (he's more often absent from his shop than my old notes suggested)
- utilize Twin Traders better (i.e. sell them more stacks of items)
- utilize rebel shop keeper better (i.e. sell him more stacks of items, too)
- convert flower powder and bottles into potions before selling them (even noobs can make poison and cure poison!)
- pie with wine is worth more than pie without wine, at least when I re-sell it after shoplifting Maria's store.
- sell items out of endgame zone instead of just plodding along to the endboss

Replay to get 300-400k total? :P

Updated 28-01-2010 at 12:04 by Lytha



  1. Cartomancer's Avatar
    But, one thing stings me a bit: Cartomancer said that he ended up with 50,000,000 gold coins in this game? I did something wrong... I only had 260,000ish coins in the end. ;)
    Hahah, you're mad! :p

    Perhaps I'll give Arx Fatalis another go before I update my computer (some time this year hopefully) again, it probably shouldn't be too difficult to get it to work on Win XP. I can't remember much about Arx anymore, apart from the annoying snake people and the fact that I enjoyed the game!

    Oh yeah, and I loved it too how the spellcasting is done in Arx. I'm not sure if it would work in a game like GW with a huge variety of different skills and spells, but in Arx Fatalis it worked in most cases.

    In many ways that game reminds me of the Ultima series (don't know if you've ever played any of the Ultimas), which is no big surprise I guess, since it's supposed to be a "spiritual successor" of Ultima Underworld. The runes and spells, the "crafting aspect", the ability to use/interact with objects, visual outlook, they're all quite similar. If you're not scared of nearly 20-year-old games, I would suggest you to try Ultima VII some time! ;)
  2. Lytha's Avatar
    I played the minigame in System Shock 2 that was supposedly a variant of ultima. (moving across the map, killing monsters, leveling up). Wasn't it something like "ultima overworld"?

    I probably shouldn't admit though that I probably spent more time in the elevator (listening to voicemails and playing that minigame) than actually running through corridors and getting objectives done...

    Ahem. No other experience with the Ultima games.

    What amazed me most this time was that the dragon actually told me an ingame explanation for why certain dialogues with NPCs (that I had visited prematurely) went as they did. As a guardian, I had the gift of foresight and would thus know certain things subconciously, and sometimes say things that didn't quite match the facts that this character knew at these times. That was really nice. ;)

    I should've visited her more often before I had to kill her. Those dialogues were nice.
    Updated 28-01-2010 at 17:50 by Lytha