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The Elder Scrolls: Arena (DOS)

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76
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.9
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Alex Man (32)
Written on  :  Oct 17, 2002

6 out of 7 people found this review helpful

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Summary

The exotic world of damp and cold weather

The Good

Look, I can't really remember EVERY SINGLE DETAIL about a a game I played some 5-6 years ago. But I played this game to the end - which is something I can't say about Wizardry 7, any Might and Magic game or the follow-up to this same offering, Daggerfall. I'm just not a very fanatic role-playing game fan so the fact that I finished this game says something. And what in particular that something might be I'll try to list here:

1. The role-playing elements don't get in the way of enjoying the game. I didn't know what "stats" were before I played this game, and I didn't know it after I finished it either.

2. Combat was fun and almost Wolf3d like in terms of speed in which you hack through enemies. It wasn't too hard and it wasn't too easy.

3. Getting cool items was very cool indeed. Everything in this game could be bought and sold, and half the enjoyment of the game was in this process. It's more like SimMedievalWanderingMerchant with 8 or so dungeons thrown on just so you could get your exotic items somewhere. After that, it's a matter of walking through a dozen or so different towns with mostly exquisitely NON-exotic weather (snow, damp, rain - it feels like home), finding various merchants and haggling with them as you try to get the biggest price for your violently-acquired wares and try to find that elusive Deal of the Century (plate for chain prices, Orb of Killeverybody for a mere 4 Stones of Swamp-creature-B-gone, your own super-duper-sword which you just sold the guy yesterday for 200 now being sold for 1200).

4. Buy this game. Get out of the initial dungeon. Look at the sky. TWO moons, was it? Or three? I don't remember exactly, but it was beautiful. And the game has lots of stuff like that - atmospheric stuff, swamps, rained-down cities at night with bandits lurking behind the corner, beautiful snowing dawns as you watch the rising triple-suns or whatever. Don't ask me for details but it was beautiful. And in a way that has nothing to do with that scantily-clad chick on the cover. 5. Unlike a certain follow-up, it was quite straight-forward and basic. 8 big dungeons, each with one item you need. Get them, kill baddies, done. And no bleeding impossible to navigate 3-d dungeons with horrific impossible to understand 3-d maps either.

The Bad

I don't really remember. There was no real plot. There was little if any NPC interaction. It was all quite basic and basically all about wandering either through depressing dungeons or rather desolate countryside with bandits roaming about or some cities where no-one wants to talk to you except the merchants who only want to rob you of your hard-earned cash. Wait, I meant to put "bandits" there.

Ah well. At least it didn't ra- er, at least I wasn't hit by any lightning.

The Bottom Line

There's really no reason not to play this game. It has no real in-your-face drawbacks, and has lots of quiet charms hidden inside. And it has a memorable unique feel about it - I like to think of it as the depressing, damp side of Ultima 7, only without the plot and the npc interaction. And unlike the (*thunder and lightning, little creatures run in terror*) follow-up, it's over before you begin to feel the inclination to take the CD to the forest and burn it and bury the ashes in some crossroads.