STAFF REVIEW of Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark (Xbox One)


Friday, May 24, 2019.
by Brent Roberts

Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark Box art If you would have told me that a $45k Kickstarter game could grow into a game that would not just be a decent game, but one that future games would be judged upon, then I'd say you were lying. I've never been happier to be so wrong. If you're a fan of RPG tactics games (ala Final Fantasy Tactics), then let me introduce you to Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark. Developed by 6 Eyes Studio, Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark is priced at $29.99 and attempts to deliver a deep RPG experience across 2.5D stages on a story that is filled with action, emotion, plot twists and so much more. I'm liking this game so much I'm breaking from what I normally do and am going to say "BUY THIS GAME NOW" if you're into these types of turn based RPG tactics games. Now that I've told you that you should buy Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark, let me tell you WHY you need to buy this game. In order to make a great tactics RPG style game, you need to have the correct type of components, and Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark tick all the proverbial boxes.

First off, the story is intriguing. Not the best story I've experienced, but at the same time the story itself is incredibly well thought out. Imagine a world that is ruled by a Council of Immortals who use justice and law to establish peace, and one of the many tools of the Council are the use of Arbiters. These individuals could be considered the authoritarian figures who do the heavy lifting in the field and maintain peace and order. Should crimes be committed, these Arbiters are sent to investigate and deliver culprits and suspects to various chapterhouses in towns to await trial and sentencing. When the time comes for an Immortal to step down (I don't know why anyone who is Immortal would want to step down from a rule of complete authority and power, but alas it's in the game, so we go with it) from the Council, each Immortal gets to select an Arbiter and brandish them with a special mark. These new "Marked" individuals then are set out on a pilgrimage to complete, and after that, will be judged upon who will take the newly vacated place as an Immortal on the Council.

These Marked though are above any and all laws. They can literally do anything that they want and cannot be stopped, as it's a crime to prevent the progress of any Marked, especially while they are on their pilgrimage. As we see today from our own governing bodies, corruption has a way of entering the Council in an attempt to gain more power and control. You play the role of one of the Arbiter's, and through your 40-50+ hour adventure, you'll be uncovering corruption, deciphering its source,solving if any member of the Council is involved, forming character bonds with other party members through events that feel like a nice way to break from the grinding (more on that in a bit) and provide greater detail as to "why" we should care about these individuals. The story itself is very impressive and easily has outshined even some larger AAA titles as well with regard to story development and execution. Box ticked.

One of the characteristics that Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark prides itself on are the classes. While we are used to the various classes such as wizard, thief, knight etc, Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark offers over 20 classes to choose from which produce over 200 skills at your disposal. Each class carries with it a unique skill tree that provides passive stats that you can unlock for your character, offensive/defensive abilities/spells (depending on the class) and counter attacks. Each character can switch to an unlocked class at any point and time, so I started getting really creative with some characters in terms of their abilities. For example, I created a group that was pure magic and they were devastating. Since this was more of turn based chess match, I wanted to prepare my team while allowing my opponents to move closer (putting them within range).


I started off by buffing my characters to give my party shields against physical and magical attacks, granted haste and all the while storing up my magic each round. My enemies would advance, and after about 2 rounds of my preparing, I literally had them in a kill zone. I had 6 magic wielding bad ***es that hit them with maximum damage spells that effected the 5 square area (think of a + symbol) and would be crushing hundreds of points of health. Outside of the basic spells of fire, water, earth and lightning, Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark also deals with Holy and Dark Magic. These two types can wield tremendous power if you structure your character properly. The right gear produces the right results and Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark is no different.

Your character can equip a certain number of items, but it's up to you to decide how you outfit your characters. For example, you can have gold armor (heavy), a gold helmet(heavy), a gold shield (heavy), 2 handed hammer (brutal weapon), gauntlets (boost physical attack power), poison ring (blocks poison) and be all set to rampage the field of battle, but what if you removed the helmet, the armor and instead, equipped more accessories to boost your power. I experimented with this thought process with my group of hybrid magic users, and now they can go full Palpatine as I used wizard gloves to boost the spell power ability. This customization aspect is hands down one of this game's strongest points. You have full retail priced games that provide not even half the quality and quantity of content, yet charge double the price. Here's the fun thing though, you can build your team how you see fit. Box ticked.

Throughout the game, as your group begins to level themselves up and you go throughout the story, you can hire teammates from various towns and cities. These new hires will be at your level, so if you're characters are around level 20, then you can hire your next character at around level 20 also (again depends on your character). These characters can also mix their classes, so you can really be creative with the team and the character builds. You can only use a Main and Sub class, so remember, while being able to sling damaging spells may be cool, you have only 1 other tree you can draw abilities from at a time, so making sure you select proper abilities is crucial to success. But you can mix any passive abilities you've unlocked from any classes. So, let me explain it like this. You can have a knight main class, a wizard secondary class, with passive stat abilities from an assassin class along with another passive ability from a witch doctor class, and even a counter ability from a scoundrel class. This level of customization of over 20 classes puts Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark in a whole new level of entertainment. Box ticked.

You learn these abilities either in battle or sitting out. Yes you are only allowed to take up to 6 characters into battle at a time, so if you have 12 people in your "team", then those who aren't selected to battle will still get a portion of the AP (Ability Points) at the end of the match. This way your characters who do not fight won't be completely useless and can still level up their abilities considerably. This is because more classes are unlocked the deeper into every ability tree you go, and by doing it this way, Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark immediately makes going through every single class almost a requirement that you'll enjoy. This is thanks to the different abilities that unlock with each unique ability tree.


The reason this is so critical is because combat is the backbone of this tactical game. Should you be unlucky and have one of your members fall in battle, they will receive an "injury" and will suffer decreased stats. Should the individual be revived (even to full health), the character will still have an "injury" stat and should they fall again, the injury will stack and your character will now have to sit out for 2 entire battles before the injury is healed and your character stats are brought back to normal. To compensate for that, it's wise to have characters ready to go (or hire one) as backups so that these sit out periods don't feel much like a punishment. Still, this feature makes you pay attention and when you have classes like the Mender that can cast healing spells that can restore groups, you start to get the sense of the whole "strength by numbers" mentality. Box ticked.

In terms of gameplay, it's your basic turn-based structure where the individual gets the option to either move and then do an attack/ability/item, or do either attack/ability/item and then move. Every action that you do generates EXP and every 100 EXP you gain a level, so when you have teammates that need health and you heal them you could earn, for example, 17 EXP for that. Only actions that don't result in any net outcome (for example, healing someone with full health), or turns that are ended prematurely, will fail to generate EXP, otherwise, you will always gain at least 1 EXP per action. Now remember, the characters sitting out will NOT gain EXP, but WILL gain a portion of AP points at the end of the fight (for a while I had those mixed around). Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark also dives into crafting in a big way. Throughout your fights you'll come across chests, stage specific resources, end of fight resources, and even their version of a loot goblin-like-thing, and all of it provides resources that you can use to craft items and upgrade consumables.

In Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark, your battles start out with a pre-determined amount and quality of usable items, however, through crafting you can increase the quality and number that you have in battle. For example, you can upgrade a basic healing potion which you can use only 2 of, and as you progress through the stages, you can increase its use to 3 and even upgrade its potency to what is known as a heavy potion. These resources are highly sought after and will be where you completionists out there will love the grind for these. It will take some time, but I found myself literally spending hours upon hours of fun, grinding away at abilities while upgrading gear and tweaking various elements of my group till I found some methods that work wonderfully for me.

Another fun experiment I tried was I have massive physical power groups that all have a fleet of foot ability to increase walking distance, and they literally wait to get everyone near and send them right into the mix and attack with incredibly powerful physical abilities. The reason I would put them right into the fray was that should they be attacked, I had them equipped with a counter that dealt my main weapon as a physical attack counter on an adjacent tile and would deal another smashing attack should they receive damage. It was a brutal massacre that deserved its own History Channel special. Box ticked and ticked.

If there was going to be any gripe I had about the gameplay it would have to be the camera system with the sections of the game that were below others. What I mean by that is you could have an enemy standing in a grave, for instance, and a character standing in the square directly below him, and you won't be able to see the enemy in the grave because the character standing outside the grave will be blocking them. I think having a camera system where you can push a button and have the axis rotate could provide a solution to that while increasing the strategic value of the game, but that I'll put in the suggestion box below. While I do wish for an option for different camera angles than the fixed one provided, everything about the gameplay of Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark is done to perfection. Box ticked.


There's more good news as well. Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark is a beautiful game. The map itself is laid out into different areas, such different shops, guilds, numerous wild land encounters and even an Arena and Tournament sections. As you progress, you can patrol any wild area you've already completed and harvest more available resources, as well as unlock any chests you may have missed before. Occasionally you'll see a small square with an exclamation point inside it (!) which indicates that there's a side/story event that you can witness. Some of these events are time sensitive, so it's in your best interest to interact with these when they occur.

Every step of the way is done in a retro nostalgic feel. The stages feel unique in their construction and 8-bit execution and the artwork that adorns every square of these levels look defined, vibrant and is complimented by a soundtrack of synth goodness that delivers that classic RPG experience that we know and love. Fanfares, combat music, event music, overworld music; every note fits this genre and every pixel feels purposeful. In fact, I'll even say that the soundtrack of Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark can go toe to toe with Final Fantasy, and in some cases, surpass it. I can honestly say it's been too long since a tactics game looked this good and sounded this amazing. Box tick and another tick.

Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark got its birth as a Kickstarter game and delivers everything you want in a 2.5D tactics game to produce an experience that delivers such an enjoyable gaming experience that it surpasses a lot of bigger games at full retail pricing. Beautiful graphics, an incredible soundtrack, a decent story and exceptional gameplay and character development that holds no equal make Full Seal: Arbiter's Mark one of the best RPG tactics games you can ever play.

Want to know something else that's amazing? This entire masterpiece was crafted by only 2 people. Not multiple teams spread out across the globe and interconnected through a digital network. 2 people. For $29.99 Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark is one of the best experiences you can have on the Xbox platform. Box ticked.


Suggestions:
Adjust the camera to maybe allow for a rotation on the axis.


Overall: 9.0 / 10
Gameplay: 9.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 9.0 / 10

Comments

Site Statistics

Registered Members: 45,610
Forum Posts: 725,857
Xbox One Titles: 1,868
Xbox 360 Titles: 1,086
Xbox 360 Kinect Titles: 95
Xbox 360 Arcade Titles: 586
Original Xbox Titles: 987
Staff Reviews: 1,872
Member Reviews: 10,339
News Articles: 15,331
Screenshots: 32,683
Xbox 360 Achievements: 45,112
Xbox 360 Faceplates: 2,016
Cheat Codes: 1,706

Latest News








See News Archives

Community Forum Activity

Starfield Release expectations?
Post by DJ tx
4 Replies, 2890 Views

Issue with Xbox live on Xbox home
Post by rcmpayne
0 Replies, 2153 Views

Happy Birthday, Me.
Post by SnoochyBoochy
3 Replies, 3668 Views

Xbox Playdates Canada October, 2018 Play date info thread.
Post by Kiesey
2 Replies, 3652 Views

2 Giveaways! Bridge Constructor Portal AND Tempest 4000!
Post by Variation-XBA
0 Replies, 3706 Views

Xbox Playdates Canada September, 2018 Playdates info thread.
Post by Kiesey
3 Replies, 2825 Views

No topics about Xbox 360? Want to play FC3 or BFH?
Post by AddMeForCoOp
2 Replies, 4053 Views

Xbox Playdates Canada August, 2018 Playdate info thread.
Post by Kiesey
5 Replies, 2976 Views

Xbox Game Pass
Post by oryanphine
3 Replies, 4958 Views

Xbox Playdates Canada July, 2018 playdate info.
Post by Kiesey
3 Replies, 2536 Views

Manette Xbox One Xfest18
Post by oryanphine
2 Replies, 3216 Views

Xbox One X Mountain Dew
Post by oryanphine
0 Replies, 2716 Views

Xbox Playdates Canada June 2018 schedule
Post by Kiesey
1 Replies, 2316 Views

Xbox One X Black Panther
Post by oryanphine
3 Replies, 4312 Views

Xbox Playdates Canada May 2018 schedule
Post by Kiesey
4 Replies, 2337 Views

© 2000-2019 XboxAddict.com - All rights reserved. All trademarks are properties of their respective owners.
Xbox is a registered trademark of Microsoft. XboxAddict.com is not affiliated with Microsoft.

Made in Canada
Site Design by Cameron Graphics