We are Arbiters, we are the law
Taking inspiration from the classic Final Fantasy Tactics, Fell Seal: Arbiters Mark is coming out of Early Access with a full release 1 launch on 30th April. Having played nearly half way through the game, the inspiration is certainly very clear.
Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Steam
Release Date: 30/04/2019
Age Rating: 7+
Genres: RPG, Turn-based, Strategy
Publisher: 1 C Entertainment
Developer: 6Eyes Studios
Price: Ranges between £20.99 & 23.99, But currently discounted on PSStore and Xbox Store.
This review for Full Seal: Arbiter’s Mark was from a retail PS4 key provided to Geek.Sleep.Rinse.Repeat from Evolve PR via Terminals.
Background of the game
Centuries ago, a beast known as Maw ravaged the world of Teora. 7 great hero’s banded together to bring down the beast and prevailed in a fierce battle. With Maw vanquished the 7 hero’s gained immortality and imposed a self rule over the land. However powerful as the immortal 7 are, they are few so created an order of Arbiters to be agents of the immortals. The Arbiters were given the way of the world and were above law. With such power it’s only a certainty before corruption would find it’s way into the order.
You take on the role of Kyrie of the Order of Arbiters. She’s one of the good ones, one that can’t be so easily persuaded or corrupted. One that takes her role seriously and will go help in all manner that she can. But recruits are needed.
The game starts with Kyrie patrolling a street with a rookie, on their way to meet another member of the Arbiters, they happen upon a killing in the street. A rather dignified and high class man is the suspect, who has the backing of what appears to be a paid mercenary to do his battles. This is your first taste of the turn-based grid-based battle system and a great teaser of what to come.
With the battle over, your ally you were scheduled to meet appears and given the importance of the suspect your party escort him to the Council of immortals for punishment.
Upon arrival you are witness to the retirement of one of the 7 immortals, it would turn out that there will always need to be 7 hero’s to rule, so the immortals mark candidates who in turn have to trail on the pilgrimage of Centina to begin ascension to immorality. And wouldn’t you just know it, but no sooner than you’ve locked the high profile suspect Alphonse into jail for murder in the street, than he is set free and marked by the retiring immortal as a potential candidate.
It should be known that marked candidates are above the law, they are now untouchable even from Arbiters as they make the pilgrimage of Centina. Kyrie doesn’t like what’s happening that a murderer could be marked as a potential ruler of the world, so she grabs the rookie, puts together a party of your choosing of recruits to make the same journey to investigate further, but as Kyrie says in the game on her journey, she’s sure that it won’t be as simple as it sounds, and she’s not wrong.
What do you do?
The main elements of this game are the battling when travelling to locations on the world map. The battle system is your classic turn base system, with a handy banner at the top displaying the attack order.
Before the battle begins you can call into play 6 members of your party at once to take into the upcoming battle. Party members are recruits that you can hire then custom visually to how you want them to look, what class they should be and abilities for them to master. It should be said the customisation of the characters is incredibly in depth, you can have some excellent fun with the randomise button.
You have 2 actions so to speak each round with each character. Move, then either perform an attack, cast a spell or use an item. It’s all rather straight forward if you are familiar with turn based RPGS. Those of you not so, it is a little daunting at first as the attacks can go into further details with more powerful ‘ability’ attacks that you can unlock as you level up. Additional rules come into play such as positioning of an attack to do more damage. So standing behind an enemy will do more damage to them, but this works both ways as the enemy can also deal more damage to you if behind you.
This is where the importance of the grid system comes in to play. You can try to strategically place your party around the grid given the amount of tiles a character has access to move around. I found I was moving my characters with more distance available to them right to the battle and aiming either behind or sideways onto the enemies. The wizard class party members had more restricted movement, so would try to get as close as possible, attack with an elemental spell that would be just in range, then hope the enemy would not approach on their turn to repay the damage with melee attacks as the wizard class were also weaker as well as less mobile.
Strategy can be a major factor to the battles, but that said, so can all out silliness (depending on the difficulty level) and you can just swarm one enemy and take one of the 6 enemies down at once then focus on the next. I found I was spreading the damage out across the multiple enemies. There’s not really a wrong way to approach the grid system.
Classes and Customisation
As mentioned you can recruit people to join your party, you can select the class and set the level you want the recruit to be to join your party. There are over 20 classes to choose from with a plethora of customisation options for them, over 240 pieces of equipment to craft, buy or attain from battles. With over 200 abilities to master throughout the different classes, the party that you build will truly feel like your own and with that the adventure feels more personal too rather than playing out a longer RPG experience with already determined characters, the options available can let you play out the game with characters you can choose to make. This can ensure the player builds a stronger connection with their characters in games like this where story driven narrative isn’t the largest part of the game.
Look and feel
The game upon first look reminded me of the Dragon Quest, in terms of characters and the style of them. Not a bad thing by any means. The characters are bold and stand out on the quite beautiful portioned battle stages built for the specific grid systems. The characters when communicating with each have the classic portrait and text box appear at the bottom of the screen that is reminiscent of all old school RPGs. It fits this genre and style of game perfectly, but it is a bit of an odd parallel between the art styles used for the character portraits in the conversation boxes to the models being used in game in battles. They could be used in different games, how strikingly different the styles are. But it certainly isn’t a hindrance to the lovely created battle grids you battle on.
Travelling between battle grids is done upon a world map, once again akin to RPGs of old. Everything in this game seems have drawn inspiration from some of the classic RPGs and it’s all perfectly suited and utilised in this game.
Pros and Cons
+ An absolutely amazing throwback to classic turn-base RPGs of old
+ Smart grid-based battle system ensures plenty of ways to progress battles
+ The result of both mechanics means for some great game-play
+ So much customisation available for your party members
– A little indecisive on character art to character models, but that is not a large flaw at all
I love it, It’s been a long time since I dived into the world of turn based RPGs. As I’ve become older and real world responsibilities stack up more and more, the time dedicated to long epics has disappeared. While this game does boast a lengthy campaign that was forever evolving during early access, I kind of forgot that it would suck time. When looking at my Final Fantasy XV game, I look at it dreading how long I’ll need to play it, I’ve yet to start it as I don’t have long sessions any more. Once starting Fell Seal, I forgot about time, Yes I still had to stop and get on with life, but I wasn’t concerned with how long I’d spent or had to spend on the game. It’s so addictive it just sucked me straight in without a care.
It’s as mentioned throughout the review a perfect throwback to many of the old adventures I used to love partaking in from classic turn based RPGs of the glory days. The inspiration is clear and it’s a lovely tribute, I guess to those games of old.
Perhaps a bit daunting at first with all the classes, abilities, attack types, damage zones and such to learn, but as with all good games, it becomes second nature to you whilst playing.
Glad this could finally come out of Early Access and get a full retail release. Congratulations to the developers on an amazing result after their successful Kickstarter project.