How can you uphold justice when the world is corrupt? With everyone above you being untrustworthy how can you carve out a fair life and protect those you have sworn your services to? Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark asks this question, with you taking control of a squad of Arbiters who seem to be fighting a losing battle against the taint in the Council of the Immortals that you serve. It is the job of your group to uphold the law of the land and to try and keep order as it threatens to slip away.
Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark is a turn-based tactical RPG that is very heavily inspired by the classic Final Fantasy Tactics. Each battle is an uphill struggle that will require every iota of strategy at your disposal. Positioning is of the utmost importance with accuracy being impacted by where you are in relation to the enemy. Every enemy has a list of strengths and weaknesses for you to exploit. On top of that there are countless buffs and debuffs to apply and a plethora of attacks to choose from.
Even before the battle begins you choose a class and a sub-class in order to have more versatility. Each class leads to new classes, and if you choose to stick to one discipline then you’ll be rewarded with a stronger version of it. If however you decide to diversify your class selection you can find advanced classes that will suit the build you are creating. The customisation options on show for the fighters at your disposal is huge, and you can fine tune every aspect of your band of warriors completely.
You’ll need to find your strategy quickly as you clash with the dangers of the land which can be either human or monstrous in form. There’s a wide array of enemy types to come across and each one will need to be etched into your memory to make it through this journey. If one of your party falls then thankfully it isn’t permanent, though it does have consequences. Injuries will need to be managed by leaving them out of a fight or two, so having a large roster of allies is an integral part of surviving. If you lean too much on one person and they get injured then you will struggle going forwards without letting them rest.
The systems in place make the gameplay very satisfying. The loop of fighting, unlocking abilities, and then fighting some more means you will always be unlocking something new; always building towards the next powerful class. It is the kind of grind that makes these games so easy to get lost in, and it is done masterfully here. You will always want to push on for one more battle because after nearly every single one you’ll be able to advance your team to their next stage.
The battles are set against gorgeous hand-drawn levels and backgrounds that make each one a joy just to look at. The character portraits are similarly easy on the eyes and help to lend a lot of personality to the main characters you come across. This falls to the wayside a little when it comes to the unnamed characters you encounter as their portraits rarely match their sprite, which feels distinctly off when the rest of the visuals are of such a high quality. The sprites also look a little unloved compared to the vistas that the world offers, though this may change as the game nears its completion.
It’s hard to feel like the current build isn’t the final game when everything already feels so good to do. Of course there are UI tweaks here and there that could be made and some things could be better explained, but as long as Fell Seal keeps on as it is then it will be capable of hitting some dizzying heights upon release. While the story feels a little tropey initially it has hints of some further depths later on as well. If you are pining after the golden age of tactical RPGs then this is a game well worth keeping an eye on.