Released: Aug 16, 2018
On August 16th, 2018, 6 Eyes Studio launched their game Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark onto Steam's Early Access platform after surpassing their goal on Kickstarter. I have recently played halfway through the game and I will now discuss details about the game as well as any dislikes I may have about it. Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark is a turn-based Tactical RPG with an emphasis on storytelling and epic battles. The game is strongly influenced by the old Final Fantasy Tactics series for the Gameboy Advance and DS and if you have ever played any of them, you would notice that right from the start.
One of the main things you will notice when you play the game is how in-depth the story is. You play the game from the perspective of a woman named Kyrie and her mercenary group called the Arbiters. The story starts as Kyrie and her Captain in training are walking down the street to meet a fellow team member, when all of a sudden you hear screaming in the streets and end up becoming a witness to a murder. You try to arrest the man and then end up in a fight with his hired mercenaries. After you win the fight, you arrest him and take him to the nearest city to turn him in. Along the way, you keep getting ambushed by the likes of bandits and many others who wish to steal your prisoner for ransom since he is a nobleman. Once you reach the town, you turn him over to the city guards, who then inform you that all Captains in the city must attend a meeting with the Immortal Council, which are basically immortal city leaders with special powers and your bosses since all Arbiters are agents of the Council. Once there you find out that a few members are stepping down and will select a few worthy people to become “Marked” and go on a pilgrimage to gather power from stones in 4 temples for a shot at becoming the next replacement Immortal Council member. The Marked are infused with a portion of an Immortal's power and have a purple tattoo over half their face. As you are leaving the city you realize that the murderer you brought in was chosen as a Marked and you make it your duty to bring him to justice. Your team pursues him even though the Marked become above the law once chosen, but eventually Kyrie gets chosen to be a Marked by an Immortal Council member who believes that a council member has become corrupt and is most likely who chose the murderer you arrested. You continue after the criminal but now your main objective becomes to make the pilgrimage as well and stop the corruption in the Immortal Council and that is what you must accomplish to beat the game.
Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark offers many ways to customize your party members. There are over 20 unique classes to choose from and over 200 abilities that you can equip. Every character can have a main class and a subclass as well as passive traits such as a counter or a mana regeneration for each step you make. Passive traits can be saved even when you switch classes so the combinations are endless. You can also customize your troop's appearance however you like. This includes their armor as well as their physical appearance. You can make your characters look like any class in the game or just mix and match helmets and armor or robes with whacky colors if you choose to. There are also over 240 pieces of equipment that can be purchased from vendors, crafted with mats, or found from treasure chests or defeated enemies in the world.
There are over 40 story encounters with plenty of end game content. The game might seem short at first, especially if you just rush to do the main story encounters, but eventually if you do that you will see the error of your ways. The story encounters begin to scale in level and based on how far you have advanced in the story you will also affect what level all enemies are in the game world. So if you don't grind and level up your party on Patrol enemies when they are your level, you will have to do so when they surpass you which will make you regret it.
Combat in Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark is quite advanced. You have many different types of ways you could fight. You can use melee weapons, ranged weapons such as bows or guns, or offensive or defensive spells. A well-balanced team would at least have one of each and more importantly a healer at all times. The Mender class offers many types of healing spells and revive spells which is great early on and is recommended to always have in your party. While you can revive a party member in battle, it is best to not let anyone die in the game. While characters don't die permanently and will appear in your party after the battle, doing so in the game will give that character a 10% debuff on their stats. This can stack as well so if you revive with the revive consumable or a lesser revive spell, they will come back with a little bit of health and can be killed very easily again and gain a 20% debuff instead. The only way to get rid of the debuffs in by letting your affected party members rest and do a battle without them. For every stack of the debuff they have is one fight they have to not participate in. This is another reason to have more than 6 party members, for when one needs to rest. New recruits can be hired from the guild in any major city and they cost about 500g for every level you want them to be. Classes can be any class you have unlocked. In combat, every character gets points at the end of the fight that can be used to upgrade your skills. It seems that even characters that didn't participate will get points, so I have come to the conclusion that it is based on what class participated.
This game offers so much and is quite addicting. Some people might not like the grinding aspect of the game, but that is what a Tactical RPG really is! I have played this with an Xbox 360 controller and I highly recommend you do the same, it makes the game's controls so fluid. The many different ways to customize your classes and subclasses makes for quite a unique experience every time you play it. Character's appearance customization is also pretty rare in Tactical RPGs as well and adds more of a personal feeling to the game. This game has a great story and the hand-drawn graphics are quite good for the genre. Although the game was made by an indie studio, it feels like something a blockbuster game company would make. It is still in Alpha, so this means more content will most likely come out and if you purchase it now you will get all the new content for free most likely. Overall I think this game is a great game and I would highly recommend it to Tactical RPG fans or even RPG fans in general. If you've loved Tactics like Banner Saga or Final Fantasy Tactics, I highly recommend you give Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark a try, you won't be disappointed!