Review – Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark (updated)
UPDATE – Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark has been released to the public on PC and console, and I’ve played the final code. I still find the game an incredible value and a must-play for fans of Final Fantasy Tactics and games in the genre.
Early Access review:
Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark shouldn’t exist.
There’s no way a two-person team, even with a wealth of contributors, should be able to turn out a game that compares at all – much less favourably – against Final Fantasy Tactics, arguably the pinnacle of 2D isometric RPGs, but they somehow have.
To be fair, Fell Seal is currently in Early Access on Steam so there’s every chance the project will fall apart in the home stretch and what there is could turn out to be all there ever is, but even then this is worth the $34 entry fee.
That $34 Canadian currently get you 25 classes, with a job system that allows access to 200 abilities, allowing you to customize your characters to take on over 40 story maps, with promises of lots of end-game content. If you want more, you can also customize your appearance – including the armour they wear, and with over 240 pieces of equipment there’ll be no shortage of ‘dress up’ opportunities.
Again, this is being made by a two-person team. What they’ve already accomplished is nothing short of incredible.
The combat system is engaging, with bonuses for things like being smart enough to get behind enemies before attacking and for using the terrain to your advantage. The AI doesn’t waste turns, making surprisingly smart decisions, so gamers who aren’t paying attention to what’s going to happen two or three moves ahead will have some issues until they adjust.
Even the story is top-notch, with intrigue and some twists and a ton of dialogue to wade through. There’s not a lot of character development within the story, but that may change as it winds its way to release.