Arx Fatalis

Arx Fatalis
Developer(s) Arkane Studios[lower-alpha 1]
Distributor(s) Valve Corporation

Release date(s)

Microsoft Windows

  • EU: June 28, 2002
  • NA: November 11, 2002

Xbox‹See Tfd›

  • NA: December 23, 2003
  • EU: February 13, 2004
Genre(s) Role-playing
Mode(s) Single-player

Arx Fatalis is a partially open source first-person role-playing video game for the Xbox and Microsoft Windows, released on November 2002 by Arkane Studios, a video game developer based in Lyon, France.


Arx Fatalis (lat. "fatal fortress") is set on a world whose sun has failed, forcing the above-ground creatures to take refuge in subterranean caverns. The action in Arx takes place in one of these large caves, where inhabitants from all races such as Trolls, Goblins, Dwarves, Humans, etc. have made their homes on various levels of the cave. The player awakens inside a prison cell and, after making his escape, eventually discovers his mission is to subvert and imprison the God of Destruction, Akbaa, who is trying to manifest itself in Arx.


Arx Fatalis has a somewhat open-ended gameplay style, allowing the player to allocate skill points for the character type such as spellcasting, weapons and armor, stealth, and so on. There are several side quests that can be undertaken. Simple crafting involves enchanting ammunition and weapons, or creating items, such as a fishing rod (fishing pole and rope), keyrings (key and ring), or pies (dough and rolling pin, optional apple and optional bottle of wine). Raw food can be cooked, like rounds of bread, chicken drumsticks, or pies. The main plotline is non-linear with the player collecting the various items to forge a sword required to defeat Akbaa in a final showdown. Additional goals come up such as dealing with the rebels of Arx, the snake women and The King of Arx. The player can resolve the conflict between them all and experience several different endings to the conflict with different consequences somewhat affecting the story.

There is no dialogue system in Arx Fatalis. Rather, the player is able to make choices through actions which lead to different consequences. There are also multiple ways to finish quests and the player can progress through the game in several different ways. For example, the player can use force to kill enemies and break down doors, or they can use stealth and avoid enemies.


One of the intuitive interfaces in Arx Fatalis is the spellcasting system. Using the mouse and the Ctrl key, runes are drawn in mid-air with mouse gestures, which must be correctly drawn, in order to successfully cast a spell. The player can find or buy different runes as gameplay progresses, combinations of which unlock new spells.

This gestural interface was simplified in the Xbox version to account for the limitations of the joypad. Each direction of the directional pad corresponds to a different mouse direction and different combinations of directions are entered with the directional pad to draw runes and correspondingly cast spells. A queue of up to 3 spells can be cast in advance, ready to be activated at the press of a button. There is also an instant magic mode that allows the player to simply select the desired spell they want to cast from a list of learned spells during gameplay.

In addition, Arx supports a stealth mode that is active when a stealth icon is visible on the interface. In stealth mode, usually when a player is in dark or shadowy areas, non-player characters cannot see them.


The design of Arx Fatalis was heavily influenced by games from the now-defunct Looking Glass Studios, especially Ultima Underworld. Arkane Studios have stated that Arx Fatalis was intended to be Ultima Underworld III, however they could not obtain a license for the UW name.[1]

Arx Fatalis was released for Microsoft Windows on June 28, 2002 and for the Xbox in December 23, 2003. In April 2007 Arx Fatalis was released on the digital distribution platform Steam,[2] followed by in December 2008.[3]

On January 14,[4] 2011 Arkane Studios released a 1.21 patch and the game's source code under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL).[5][6] Based upon this source code the formed Arx Libertatis-project tries to fix bugs and incompatibilities and port the game to operating systems like Linux, FreeBSD and the OpenPandora handheld.[5][7][8] Latest iteration of Arx Libertatis is 1.1 released in July 2013.[9] Also, several fan-made translations of the game were created, e.g. to Polish, Turkish and Korean.[10][11][12]


Aggregate scores
GameRankings(PC) 80%[13]
(Xbox) 72.61%[14]
Metacritic(PC) 77/100[15]
(Xbox) 71/100[16]
Review scores

Arx Fatalis received generally favorable reviews from critics having an average rating of 80% on GameRankings for the Microsoft Windows Version,[13] and 72.61% for Xbox version,[14] respectively a score of 77 out of 100 on Metacritic for the Microsoft Windows Version,[15] and 71 out of 100 on Xbox version.[16]

Arx Fatalis was released after The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and Neverwinter Nights, with reviewers stating that although it is not so open like Morrowind it will appeal to the fans that like Dungeon Crawler RPG's, paying homage to games like Ultima:Underworld. GameSpot's Greg Kasavin was pleased with the experience that the game offers, stating that "Arx Fatalis is entertaining and great looking, and it should especially appeal to fans of other atmospheric first-person games, including Thief: The Dark Project, System Shock 2, and Deus Ex, let alone this year's Morrowind. Though marred by some technical issues (many of which have already been addressed by patches) and at times confusing to navigate in, Arx Fatalis nevertheless delivers a memorable, original role-playing experience", and IGN's Dan Adams overall enjoying the game stating that "The atmosphere, spell system, puzzles, voices, and story were good and interesting enough to give me a pretty enjoyable experience." Although critics pointed out the visuals not being very appealing and the sound being like a "mixed bag" with "Some of the voice work is very good with particularly the main character's detached and distant voice, which makes more sense when you learn his identity. While some of the races had fairly cheesy voices."


  1. Additional development by Floodgate Entertainment, ported to Xbox by Wizarbox.


  1. Brett Todd (2002-03-21). "GameSpot Preview". GameSpot. Retrieved 2007-07-29.
  2. "News: Arx Fatalis On Steam Now". Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  3. Straight out of the Dungeon, Arx Fatalis invades
  4. Nick (2011-01-14). "Arx Fatalis source code, patch released!". Retrieved 2011-08-10.
  5. 1 2 Humphries, Matthew (2012-04-21). "Arx Libertatis: cross-platform port of Arx Fatalis released". Retrieved 2012-11-17. What’s interesting about Arx Fatalis is that development of the game started up again last year. Arkane Studios released patch 1.21 and with it open sourced the engine. That led to an new project called Arx Libertatis, which aimed to update the game to be played on multiple modern operating systems including Windows and Linux.
  6. Arkane Studio. "Arkane Studios". Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  7. "arx/ArxLibertatis". GitHub. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  8. Arx Libertatis on (Nov 10, 2013)
  9. "Arx Libertatis 1.1 "Rhaa Movis" released". 2013-07-14. Retrieved 2013-07-14.
  10. Arx Fatalis (plprojekt)
  11. Arx Fatalis Türkçe yama
  12. "NSM53 PROJECT". NSM53 PROJECT. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  13. 1 2 "Arx Fatalis". Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  14. 1 2 "Arx Fatalis". Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  15. 1 2 "Arx Fatalis". Metacritic. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  16. 1 2 "Arx Fatalis". Metacritic. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  17. "Arx Fatalis". 5 November 2002. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  18. Greg Kasavin. "Arx Fatalis Review". GameSpot. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  19. "Arx Fatalis". IGN. Retrieved 17 April 2015.

External links

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