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Game Info:

Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark
Developed By: 6 Eyes Studio
Published By: 1C Company
Release Date: 2019 (August 16, 2018 for Early Access)
Available On: Windows, macOS, SteamOS/Linux, PS4, Xbox One
Genre: Turn-Based Tactical RPG
Number of Players: 1
ESRB Rating: N/A
MSRP: $19.99

Thank you 1C Company for giving us a preview code!

Usually, we don’t have much time to do previews or first impressions, since we are blessed with so many games to review. Even still, if something looks truly remarkable, sometimes we might just take the time out to give it a whirl - like we have done here for Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark. Here is a game that takes tons of inspiration from a game I absolutely loved, Final Fantasy Tactics. And I have to say – a little spoiler here – if first impressions are anything to go by, I have a strong feeling they delivered.

Fell Seal takes place in a kingdom where Immortals rule and Arbiters act as the police force who try to keep the peace. Corruption is rampant, but Kyrie is one of the few that are not. She and her protege, Anadine, witness a murder by a snobby aristocrat. They proceed to arrest him, and take him to a far-off jail to avoid payoffs by the local prison guards.

When they arrive, one of the Immortals announces that they are retiring, and that several Marks may show up on citizens who will soon be partaking in trials to determine if they are worthy to be the next Immortal. Of course, as luck would have it, our not-so-friendly aristocrat happens to be one of them. This sets up the power struggle that drives the story in Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark.

Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark
Highlights:

Strong Points: Interesting art style that grows on you; engaging story; excellent music; if you like Final Fantasy Tactics, you will love this game, as it has a similar turn-based tactics game system with awesome classes
Weak Points: Graphics don’t currently scale well to resolutions other than 1080p
Moral Warnings: Too early to tell, but there is blood, magic, and fantasy violence

I have to say, I am very pleased with how the story is told. Everything is done in engine, and there are scenes in between or during battles, as well as bits of interesting dialogue as you enter a town or other new areas. And thankfully, the character customization, battles, and so forth are also really well done.

The Final Fantasy Tactics inspiration is clear and obvious, though the art style is different enough to make it its own thing. That’s not really a problem – I love that game so very much; it’s one of the top five SquareSoft/Square Enix products ever, in my opinion.

The battle view is a three-quarters top-down view, with a square grid system for each battle map. Characters move in a turn-based fashion, with the turn order listed out at the top of the screen. When it is a character’s turn, they can move up to the number of spaces of their move stat, and can attack or use any skill in a class that they have unlocked so far and assigned to their skill slots. This can make for some incredibly varied and powerful characters.

Each battle, party members earn both character experience, and class AP. Each character level, you increase hit points, magic points, and various other stats based on what character class you are at the time of gaining the level. This gives you plenty of options when it comes to min/maxing a character – if someone was a magic user for 99 levels, they won’t make a very good warrior, but their spells will be something to be feared.

Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 90%
Gameplay - 17/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 82%
Violence - 6/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8/10

Each class has ten skills, one of which you get for free by unlocking the class. As you spend AP on the skill tree, you unlock more and more powerful skills that you can take with you to other classes. As you gain class levels, you can also unlock other classes. As you switch classes and unlock more skills, you can then unlock new classes, and so forth. This process grants you tons of skill customization options for both active and passive skills, allowing you to really make each character both powerful and unique in their skill sets. From what I saw, this looks great and I really look forward to trying more and more powerful classes out for size.

From what I saw, when it comes to appropriateness issues, there is animated violence and magic use. One cut scene had someone bleed on the ground when they were killed, but most of the game, the enemies simply fade out. I have not noticed any curse words during my play time so far.

Graphically, the game is all hand-drawn art, or pixel art. The combination is quite stunning, though the pixel art is not quite up to the level of quality the hand-drawn art is at. Nevertheless, it still looks very nice for what it is. The only problem I saw is that the game doesn’t really scale properly at higher or lower resolutions. At higher than 1080p, the characters have an odd pixel filter that simply looks bad. I had no trouble with my 720p GPD Win 2, but another user reported problems at 1366x768. Either way, I spoke with the developer, and they are looking into the resolution issues.

I have only played a couple of hours of Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark so far, but what I have played I really liked. The art is great, the music is simply fantastic, and I really enjoyed the turn-based tactical gameplay a whole lot. It seems like a proper spiritual sequel to Final Fantasy Tactics that may actually live up to that high bar. I’m really excited about this game, despite having only played it for a few hours so far. I can’t wait for the final release in 2019, so I can give it a proper review!

NOTE: Preliminary preview scores – subject to change!

About the Author

Jason Gress

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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