Fell Seal is what happens when two guys get together and stop slapping each other in the nuts long enough to build a video game worth playing. (I know, I know, it’s a husband and wife team, but, c’mon, how else could I have started this preview?) It’s FANTASTIC – and it’s got just enough differences from Final Fantasy Tactics to not be considered a clone, just another direction the genre could move in – a real quality tactics game on Steam that I think that ANYBODY who likes TRPGs needs to try.
Your basics in a TRPG, or Tactical Role Playing Game, are usually pretty simple. You play as a tactician or sometimes play as the whole party of people, but generally you aren’t “one of the dudes” on the field of battle. You’re the person controlling from on high, commanding the troops in the trenches, while the defacto leader of your military organization is on the field, as a person, shooting and fighting and totally being in danger in the way you wouldn’t want to put your general in danger or whatever. But hey – another TRPG does a really good job about that, it’s called XCOM or whatever, but, I don’t like XCOM like I do Final Fantasy Tactics, or Vanguard Bandits, or Ring of Red, or… you get what I’m saying.
So, the graphics are pretty different from what I’m used to out of the genre. I mean, us TRPG players are willing to work with almost anything. 90% of the time, these games look like absolute garbage. We’re willing to deal with nonsense like THIS without blinking, so, why would we be upset with anything else?
All that nonsense about Azure Dreams aside, Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark is actually not bad looking at all. It’s got a unique style that helps it separate itself from the more mainstream titles, and the fact that it’s got a character customization system inside the game is downright BONKERS. It means that I can make every single character in my party look and feel unique, down to changing their colors. So… I can make two guys wearing armor that matches, and give one of them a ginger beard and the other a brown beard and other than that, they look the same, so I know they must both be doing about the same thing, or… I can make individual characters for my friends that represent them a little better than just the default character class.
Audio-wise, though, holy shit. There’s plenty of things to say about this game in the audio department. This game makes me physically flinch when I hear the sound of a hammer hitting a person. It sounds like a cinder block slapping wet meat. It’s like… the worst sound I’ve ever heard in my life. That being said, it makes me want to slap wet meat with a cinder block in the game ALL THE TIME. I’d give it to the hammer, it’s my favorite weapon by far now. The other sounds are okay, but… jesus, that hammer sound. I don’t think I’ll ever feel as satisfied with a sound effect in my life. It just… fundamentally changes how amazing hammers are. By the way, the damage that hammers do does NOT live up to the sound effect, that should kill anything in 1 hit, but hey, it’s video games.
Things that are different from Final Fantasy Tactics – your items just… fill back to full every encounter. This is awesome, because it presents a challenge that having 99 phoenix downs removes from FFT. Also, when your characters get killed, they are just wounded, which means if they skip the next battle, they’ll be at full fighting ability. This means that if you’re playing fast and loose, you’ll need a much wider team of people, which means more tomfoolery in the menu equipping people and a lot of redundancy/doubling or tripling up on equipment costs, or having a smaller team of well-equipped super soldiers that are tight and safe in fights.
Another major difference is how you patrol areas of the map to get random battles. It’s not just random, which is a blessing, because I remember getting tons of random battles when I didn’t want them, and having to move around the map forever trying to get them. Just having the option to say “Yes, I’d like a random battle now” is really helpful and a significantly superior option.
The story is a pretty decent one, you’re playing as a team of people who are called Arbiters and they are kind of… peacekeepers in a land where there are rules that people can be above the law, and blah blah, it’s whatever, but you end up chasing down a guy who kills someone and you should have him dead to rights, but it turns out that you don’t. It’s just a good excuse to go play tactics again, that game’s story was kind of nonsense itself, and I know I just made a bunch of tactics nerds unhappy, but hey, it made more sense than FF10, that game’s story REALLY didn’t make sense.
Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark is a 20 dollar game, and it’s cool enough that it’s AT LEAST worth that much already. If you like tactics games, you’d be an idiot to not play this one. I’m definitely going to get my tactics fix here for awhile.
Speaking of – I’ve recently started streaming again, very rarely, on twitch. So… you might see some Fell Seal there. I’d tell you to come play the game with me, but, this game THANKFULLY is a single player RPG. God I hate multiplayer. Most people are so dumb.
Disclosure: We received this game, AND a funny story from the publisher, for free.
Developed by: 6 Eyes Studio (Which, I assume means 1 of the 2 developers working on this game wears glasses. Note: Yeah, they had contractors, still, a 2 person dev team.)
Published by: 1C Company (These guys made IL-2 Sturmovik Combat Flight Sims, Theatre of War, and plenty of others)