Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark is a tactical RPG in the spirit of the Japanese classics of the genre: Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Ogre. The debut project of 6 Eyes Studio, consisting of exactly two people – both, of course, fans of Japanese and role-playing games in general, and previously worked in the studio, which released Black Sigil: Blade of the Exiled on Nintendo DS. Not the most solid track record, of course, but all the more surprising that with such a small team (with the participation of invited assistants) they managed to release the game, which many immediately called the first in recent years worthy heir to Final Fantasy Tactics.
The plot of Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark talks about a country in which all are ruled by the Council of Immortal heroes. And the observance of the law and the execution of their will are monitored by the so-called Executors – it’s about like Tyranny’s heroes, something like arbitrators, sheriffs, and inquisitors in one person.
But even the Immortals sometimes retire. And before that, they choose a successor, put a mark on it and send them on a pilgrimage to the temples, so that he will hold a special ceremony and become a new member of the Council. So, we are playing for one of the Women, who, unexpectedly for her, have made one of these pilgrims on the way to Immortality.
History in tactical RPGs, as a rule, does not play the first role, and in Fell Seal she does not offer anything outstanding. Nonlinearity and the torment of moral choices are not about it. Our heroine, on the contrary, is revealingly fair and principled – a little even nauseous.
Simple but interesting
But you can’t call the story a passing one – our Executive with a team of faithful companions and mercenaries, as usual, encounters various obstacles in the way. It is trying to prevent the corrupt nobles and some other Executives, singing with the bandits. Traitors are found in the Council.
By and large, we are moving from the temple to the temple along subject lines laid on the global map. But sometimes there are also forks, where you can, for example, smash the lair of the robbers and get a strong ally in the team (although you can not do this) or go to the arena and participate in the tournament for money and experience.
In addition, special events occur occasionally – as a rule, heart to heart talks with key partners, each of whom has a story behind them. However, there are no personal quests and systems of moral influence on partners, as in the party RPGs from BioWare and Obsidian.
The main dish of Fell Seal is, of course, tactical battles. And they are basically lined up on a detailed and extensive system of classes. There are many specializations – knights, rogues, mercenaries, magicians, healers, plague doctors, trackers, mechanics, traders, and others. Plus, unique sets for the main characters – like a knight-demon. All this is allowed to combine – one character can have two specializations at the same time. And no restrictions: do you want a rogue mage or ranger – a plague doctor? You are welcome. Thus recruited two or three dozen unique combinations.
Each specialization gives its active and passive skills that we learn as we earn experience in the piggy bank of this particular class. Accordingly, in battles, the character has two sets of skills available at once – sometimes quite unexpectedly adjacent to each other. But at any time you can decide: they say that this rogue/mercenary would be better engaged in applied or healing magic, rather than shooting at enemies from a crossbow. And right there on the global map, at the point where there are mercenary guilds (and there are a lot of them), you choose the new class yourself.
This is especially convenient because all joined or hired members of the detachment in the same guilds gain experience and develop in all classes, even if they do not belong to 4-7 soldiers, who participated directly in the fight. Yes, they get less experience and are not pumped so quickly in non-core specializations, but nonetheless.
In addition, almost all at least once or twice participate in battles, replacing comrades. The fact is that fallen on the battlefield are injured and fines to the characteristics. They only get up on their feet after they miss the next fight. That is, you should always have several armed and dangerous characters in the wings.
It turns out that during the whole game we have a set of well-pumped and ready for class change heroes. As you understand, all this opens up simply by breaking through the possibilities for constructing unique party builds – no one bothers to constantly experiment, creating suitable combinations of classes and abilities. It is clear that the main character and her closest associates will always be stronger than the rest, but who else will make the company, how much the main party is stronger and what it specializes in – it already depends on you. And the choice is rich – there are even warrior beetles with their classes.
Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark is a worthy heir to Final Fantasy Tactics and similar games that constantly challenge even veterans of the genre. Skipping it is strictly not recommended – excellent training and a reason to remember or update your tactical skills, knowledge, and habits.
Pros: complex tactical battles; advanced class system; very nice picture with watercolor notes.
Cons: the plot could be more complicated; tactical battles lack some capabilities; music is different but too standard for such games.