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Here’s the bottom line if you don’t have time to read the full review:
- A challenging pen-and-paper experience.
- The story and dungeon crawling will have you craving more every time you set it down, with a great payoff at the end.
- Neat ideas like realistic travel times, a randomly generated (and HUGE) open world, and holidays set new standards for RPGs.
- Difficult and seemingly unfair sometimes.
- You practically have to read the manual.
- Lack of variety, especially as you near the end of the game.
- Glitches and bugs.
Final Score: 6.5/10
Ultimately though, the Elder Scrolls: Arena is strangely addicting. The fun comes mainly from exploring every corner of a dungeon, and early on, the bartering and finding your way around town is fun. They did a really good job at making it feel like you were playing a pen-and-paper RPG, even if there was little to deviate outside of the main story. Finally, the ending has a great payoff, and you really feel like you’ve weathered a journey by the end of it. I think it’s flawed for sure, but don’t let the lower score fool you; if you’re in the mood for a DOS RPG and up for a challenge, consider giving Arena a shot.