Its the Dark Age. Cast away from the surface of the Earth by the disappearance of the sun, Mankind lived hidden underground in the Fortress of Arx. Humans only have magic left to survive against Ratmen, Dragons and starvation... But a much greater danger is hovering above the world of Arx Fatalis. Lurking in the eternal darkness of the mines, it feeds off the innocent souls of the city. It is not a monster. It is not human. It is pure evil. The adventure has just started, and soon, the fate of Arx, will be in your hands.
Verily one of the best role playing games around. It's a first person RPG set in a dark underground world consisting of caverns, underground lakes, cities, ice caves, forts, troll infested lairs and more. The story is heavy and most of the quests in the game are the story quests. This says something about the story considering the game takes 100 + hours to complete. Unlike some RPGs nowadays, this game doesn't hold your hand either. Want to cast a spell? You have to do so on screen with the mouse (Xbox version is slightly different). Want to forge a sword? There's no cut scenes here, you've got to do it yourself by finding the right equipment and using it on the weapon you want to forge. Want to use a potion during melee? There's no pausing while going into inventory, so assigning items to keys is a must here. Puzzles are also present and there's no journal entries to help you here, maybe you'll find a few cryptic messages to help you but from then on, you've got to use your brain. There are however, NUMEROUS ways to progress through the game. You can go charging in with your sword, breaking through doors and killing all in your way, or you can simply sneak past enemies or assassinate them from the darkness. Quests can also be solved in multiple ways which makes replaying the game worth it.
The only game that beats this in my opinion is Dragon Age: Origins but this game certainly has the better combat, story and crafting system. If you haven't got it, GET IT NOW.
Challenging and highly atmospheric, if also heavily flawed, dungeon crawler/immersive sim that is in many ways highly reminiscent of Looking Glass Studios classics. You'll journey trough decaying underground world filled with dark ritual, bloodthirsty enemies and eldritch horrors.
Patience, experimentation and careful exploration are often rewarded, and also quite often -required- in a way that is rarely seen in modern games: Arx offers little to no hand holding to players during their journey through its sprawling, interconnected dungeons - thorough exploration and paying attention to clues and readables are keys to making any sort of progress!
Game isn't without flaws tho: magic system, while original and also quite impressive in a sheer number of offered spells and their possible effects, is also somewhat clunky, and spellcasting is often unresponsive. Controls & interface in general will take some time to get used to.
While game offers to player a freedom to develop his character in many possible directions, some skills are definitely far more useful than others, and some playstyles are far less developed than others. Stealth system for example is quite unrefined, and while it is sometimes useful and at some points borderline required to sneak (say early encounters with dreaded Ylside warriors), stealth tends to be rather useless and unsatisfying.
There is quite a bit of different types of fun-to-use melee weapons, each with their own pros and cons. Ranged combat on the other hand, while quite useful at times, is made unnecessarily monotonous by the fact that the player is offered all of -two- bows, second one being pretty much unreachable on first playthrough without any outside help.
Still, I'd say this game's assorted shortcomings are -very much- worth dealing with, and are far, FAR outweighed by its many qualities.
Pretty much recommended to anyone with some patience and willingness to deal with game's flaws and idiosyncrasies.