18 people found this review helpful
Recommended
0.0 hrs last two weeks / 3.6 hrs on record
Posted: Aug 18, 2018 @ 4:06am
Updated: Aug 18, 2018 @ 4:09am
Product received for free

Early Access Review
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Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark is a turn-based strategy game with battles in the style of Final Fantasy Tactics. The game is currently in Early Access.

Story
The Immortal Council was formed long ago after a brutal beast of destruction unleashed chaos and almost destroyed the land. The immortals stopped this threat but they are neither omniscient nor omnipresent, as such, they need help to matain order. The mortal agents of these beings are the Arbiters, who try to uphold order and the law. They guard against day to day dangers in the world. In doing so, they preserve world balance through their actions.

You play as Kyrie, an Arbiter who discovers that the creeping shadows of corruption have extended far beyond the bandits and thieves of the land. The story thus starts when she discovers a corrupted noble murdering an unarmed man and unfolds from there.

The game is heavily story-driven, and you learn about Kyrie and her mental and moral fortitude throughout the game, not to mention her combat abilities.

Gameplay
Each battle start out with a deployment phase. You can choose which characters you will use for the battle. Sometimes special characters will join a battle automatically and they cannot be removed. Each battle tells you how many characters you can deploy and there are lit areas on the map that you can freely place your characters up to the given limit.

After the battle begins, units can move certain distances based on their stats terrain traits, elevations, etc. The character can use a single action per turn, before or after the movement, these actions include attacking an enemy, using an item, cast a spell, etc. The action can be performed before or after the movement, and the game allows you to choose the direction that each character faces at the end of the turn.

When your character attacks, you can see how much damage will be done if the attack is successful. The game also gives success percentages as well. There are short range and long range attacks available.

Items have a limited number of uses per battle for the entire team. At the start of each battle, your items are refreshed, so you do not have to worry about limited quantities that persist through the game. Only the uses are limited.

The magical spells can be target specific or area of effect. I have been careful to avoid hitting my own units with the offensive spells, but all indicators point toward damage from friendly fire as well.

For each succesful action you earn experience, be it from attacking, using items, casting spells, using a class ability, etc. Your characters level up in-battle if they gain enough experience.

The turns are set and you can see at the top of the screen at any point in a battle to see this order, so you can plan things out accordingly. There are special events as well that trigger, and you have to preemptively act or react to these special events as well.

After winning a battle you will get rewards and ability points.

If an unit is killed in battle, they are not permanently removed. They can be deployed in the next battle as well, but they will have an injury (10% decrease in all stats). To recover from an injury, they need to sit out the next battle. There are items and magic spells for reviving a fallen character, but they still will get an injury.

If all of your units die, you get a Game Over screen.

You can choose to save the game any time you are not in a battle. You can save and reuse save slots, or you can create new same game files. So if you get a Game Over, you can just try again.

You can return to a part of a map to redo a battle. This is convenient if you missed a treasure chest or you wanted to try to play with different strategies or with different characters.

There is a world map broken up in various nodes. Here you can go from one plotline to the next and you can also find guilds and shops. In the guilds, you can recruit new units and you can customize all of your units however you wish in terms of apperance. You can buy and sell your gear at the shops. There is a "Try and Buy" option allowing you to see what the different equipment will do for your character stats before you buy them. Progressing to different story parts through these nodes often have accompanying battles.

You can fully customize your units, not just their appearances. You can freely change classes that have been unlocked to your whim. The game does encourage you to try out different classes because this dramatically alters the game strategy and battle outcomes. In addition, your characters can learn new abilities based on their classes. (There are more than 20 classes available!)

With loot drops, other finds, or shop purchases, you can craft new items, gear, gadgets, badges, etc.

There is a built-in tutorial, which will help you a little bit. I hope the tutorial can be more fleshed out. For people who do not like to see tutorials and want to go at it blind through trial and error or for people who are so experienced that they feel it to be unnecessary, this can be turned off at any point.

Controls
Game can be played with a mouse+keyboard or a controller. The controller works very well for this game. Because the game is played in isometric view and some people may prefer the different D-pad directions to go in other directions, there is an option to toggle the directions to see which one you would like better. The game always shows you which keys/actions are currently available to you. And if you prefer to use mouse only, you can click any of these written buttons on the bottom of the screen and it will bring you there. Left click is always confirm, and right click is always cancel.

Graphics + Sounds
Graphics are very beautiful and vibrant. I really like it. I think everything is hand-drawn. Music fits the game very well.

Verdict
Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark is a turn-based strategy game that has a lot to offer even though it is currently still in Early Access. If you enjoy Final Fantasy Tactics you will immediately see the resemblance. It is not perfect, please keep in mind that it is still in Early Access. The developer is very active and responsive as well.

The game is a must-buy and a true gem for most people to discover in time. 9/10.

I received the product for free. I did not receive any compensation to write this review. The opinions represented here are entirely my own and were not influenced in any way.
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