Arx Fatalis, and Krater

Arx Fatalis, and Krater

Been playing some games, as I am wont to do, and have turned up a couple of interesting, albeit, not as well known games.  These two games have managed to keep me away from DotA 2 for a time so that must be an achievement, right?

One of those games is a fun little squad based post-apocalyptic real time strategy RPG called Krater.  Now that may seem like a mouthful of gaming mechanics, but imagine it being a mix of Diablo, Starcraft, and a little bit of MMO.  I know that sounds unconventional, but bear with me.

You control a squad of three ‘soldiers’ who can be of various classes.  You can also have many different characters in your ‘reserve’ that you may swap at any time outside of combat.  These classes range from tanks, healers, and damage dealers; thus, the MMO trinity. (For those unaware of the MMO ‘trinity’; it is the basic make up of a group you would need in order to tackle a difficult dungeon/challenge; a tank to absorb and take all the damage, a healer to heal the tank and group, and a damage dealer (one or more) in order to drop your enemies.) While you do not have to follow the trinity, I would imagine that it would be difficult to conquer the harder challenges in the game without it.

Gas-masks are the hot-style in Krater.

What’s so exciting about this concept is that instead of executing just one role as you would in an MMO, you control all three roles.  You’re controlling your tank, your healer, your damage dealer, and their abilities all at once.  Now, each soldier only has 2 independent skills each as opposed to the many you would have otherwise, but this makes the game-play a lot less complex and allows you to micromanage each squad member without feeling overwhelmed.

Now comes the Diablo portion; the game is entirely real time so you are required to think on your feet when you engage in combat.  Not only that, but the game is loot driven as well, you are able to loot your enemies after taking them down and there is a chance to get some great weaponry.  If you enjoy real time strategy and diablo-esque dungeon crawlers with some loot and crafting mechanics, this is the game for you.  I fortunately got the game on sale for $4.00 a couple weeks ago, so I definitely got my money’s worth for it.  It can be found for $15.00 on steam while not on sale.  Did I mention it had coop?

The other game I’ve been playing quite a bit lately is Arx Fatalis, a first person RPG that came out back in November 2002 on the PC and the original Xbox!  In my never ending quest to play the 50+ games I have on my steam backlog, I’ve taken up this one at a friend’s suggestion.  This game had been mainly outshone by Morrowind, which had come out in May of the same year.  Due to them being of similar genre, it was a tough market for Arx to make much headway over the buzz of Morrowind.  
Spiders confirmed!

However Arx is far from being the same game.  While it shares the same type first person RPG, that’s mostly where the similarities end.  Arx is a pretty difficult and hardcore experience.  The game relies heavily on puzzle and problem solving, which I found refreshing over its action oriented counterpart.  Not only that, some encounters are downright difficult, but the feeling of conquering these challenges is reward enough.  Additionally there is a fun rune drawing system to spell casting that puts an interesting spin on spell combat.

Not only that, but Arx hearkens back to the old days of first person dungeon crawlers which I found to be a blast of nostalgia.  Back in the ol’ days (Read early 90’s PC play), a lot of first person RPGs took place entirely either in a dungeon or underground complex, or indoors in some way (probably due to the fact you didn’t have to render much). Arx also has it’s share of secret doors and buttons hidden in the underground walls not dissimilar to what you’d expect during that era.
You can grab Arx Fatalis on steam for $5.00; however, if you’re going to play it on a modern PC system, you should probably download Arx Liberatis, a fan made mod that adapts the game to modern systems.  I had found that the game was almost unplayable for me until I installed the mod.  Just keep in mind, graphics from a little over 10 years ago are worse than you remember!

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