Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark, is a tactical turn based RPG, set in an a rich fantasy world. Developed by 6 Eyes Studio and published by 1C Entertainment.
Before I talk about the story of Fell Seal, I would like to briefly mention world building. When creating a game, movie, novel etc. set in another world, proper world building is important, and I believe this is an aspect that 6 Eyes Studio have nailed. The world of Fell Seal feels fully realised, the story is full of familiar terms, such as Arbiter, Immortal, Sigil, Relic, however they are unfamiliar in terms of our setting, and 6 Eyes do a great job of drip-feeding the information, so we can understand the world without being overwhelmed by exposition dumps.
Now on to the story itself. The story in Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark, is that a group of Arbiters (essentially police), witness a murder and capture the murderer red handed. However as is all too often the case, the Nobleman that committed the crime is able to weasel his way out of trouble. But that is not the end of the story, rather it is the beginning. Soon after we are introduced to the Immortals, a council of elder’s with immense power that protect and control the lands. One of these elder’s announces that he is abdicating his role, which means a new Immortal must be selected. Again showcasing their world building and storytelling, this revelation is such a rare occurrence that even the other Immortals need it explained to them.
The murderous Nobleman is selected as one of the “Marked” which are the candidates to ascend to the Immortal thrones. This also places him above the law. But our heroes won’t let justice be forgotten.
Without getting into the minutiae of the story further, your pilgrimage will take you around the continent. You will meet more characters, and you will face corruption and betrayal.
Your main character in Fell Seal, is Kyrie an Arbiter. Kyrie is joined by fellow Arbiter’s Anadine and Reiner. Each character has their own personality, Kyrie is steadfast and believes in justice above all else. Reiner is lighthearted and the joker of the group, but deep down he believes in justice, but more importantly in Kyrie. Lastly there is Anadine, the newest Arbiter, she is friendly, cheerful, optimistic and a little naive, she also acts as the audience surrogate.
Beyond these characters, there is a rich cast of other interesting characters. The shadowy Immortals, who may or may not be trustworthy. The evil nobleman Alphonse, who kicks of the adventure. Fellow Arbiter Bzarro, one of the first non human characters you see. Yates, the genius doctor with a dark past involving Reiner. These are just a few, as listing them all would make this review far too long.
Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark, also contains a character creation system. However these characters will not interact in the story, only in battle.
Fell Seal, is a tactical turn based RPG. There are two main sub divisions of this style of game. The first being games like Tactics Ogre, Final Fantasy Tactics and Disgaea. The second being Xcom, Fort Triumph and Mutant Year Zero style games. Fell Seal falls firmly on the TO/FFT/D side.
Battle consists of two (sometimes three) groups. Allies (your team), Enemy (the enemy team) and sometimes Guests (story specific characters, who will generally help you or need to be protected by you). All teams are placed on a grid based map, you choose the placement of your team, on specific tile options. The enemies are preassigned their places so you can alter your team to counter them if possible. Once everyone is placed, the battle begins.
The top of the screen has turn order, which indicates which character will go next, ally and enemy alike. Each character’s turn has two actions, move and another action. Move is pretty self explanatory, you can move your character based on their movement numbers, which involves things like jump distance and ability to swim. Actions have a few options, normal attack, special or magic, item use, end turn, and some tile specific options such as gather or climb. The two actions can be performed in either order. For instance you could attack and then move, or move and then use an item.
Each character has a class and sub class, which will allow them access to different skills.
Victory in a battle is dependent on the actual battle criteria. Most will be to defeat all enemies, but some will have other criteria like gathering a certain item. Victory in a battle will provide money and AP which is used to learn new skills. Experience for the characters to level them up is received during the battle itself for actions such as dealing damage or healing characters.
Outside of Battle
Outside of battle there is a World Map, on this you can select to go to the next story battle, return to previous battles, or visit towns. Visiting towns allows access to stores, to purchase equipment for your characters. Guild’s to hire more units. And various towns or battle nodes will sometimes have events which are largely optional story moments, but will sometimes provide something new, like refurbished armor.
While outside of battle you can also head to your camp to check on your troops. It is here that you will be able to modify their equipment, assign classes and skills, learn new skills, and even dismiss non story essential characters.
You can also enter the crafting area here. As you may have noticed when I mentioned the shop selling equipment with no mention of supplies, items work differently in Fell Seal to most other games. Rather than stocking up on supplies and using what you have then having to find or buy more, Fell Seal uses a system where you have a certain amount of items that can be used in a battle, then next battle you will have the same amount again, to increase the amount and quality of the items, you will need to find components and craft these upgrades. It is an interesting system and works quite well.
Fell Seal uses a mix of art styles, the character portraits are realistic and look almost like oil paintings. Whereas the characters in battle and during the story are pixel art. For the most part I think this works very well, there are some slight discrepancies though, like when the portrait and character traits don’t match up 100%. But over all, I think it works more often than it doesn’t.
The level design can feel very angular at times. Rather than a natural area that is split into a tiled grid, it at times comes across as a tiled grid that is acting as a facsimile of a natural area. This is not always the case though, it’s only really noticeable when the level has a lot of incline tiles.
Character designs are great, especially the story based characters. You can customise the look of non story characters too, everything from skin tone to portrait.
Adopting a fantasy, folk sound similar to the aforementioned Tactics Ogre and Final Fantasy Tactics, the music in Fell Seal is enjoyable, and appropriate. I love all sorts of music, but it would feel out of place to have darksynth playing in a fantasy forest, so the fact the music all fits, is a huge plus for immersion.
Sound effect wise, everything fits in well and sounds great as well. The jubilant noise when a character levels up, the swoosh of an arrow as it flies through the air. In short, the sound design in Fell Seal, is solid.
Over all, I really enjoyed the time I’ve had with Fell Seal so far, there is still so much I didn’t talk about. Such as the intricacies of the class and subclass system. It boils down to this though, if you are a fan of tactical or strategy RPG’s, then it would be in your best interest to take a look at Fell Seal. The gameplay is fun, you don’t need to grind but it’s an option and the story is strong. A wonderful addition to the genre, and to gaming in general.
Rating: 9/10 – A high quality game for lovers of Tactical RPGs.
Title: Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark
Genre: Tactical RPG
Developer: 6 Eyes Studio
Publisher: 1C Entertainment
Release Date: 1 May 2019
PlayingIndies was not paid for this review and the writer of this review is not involved in the development or marketing team.