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Friday, April 1, 2022

Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark

One of many games to come out that draws obvious inspiration from Final Fantasy Tactics, Fell Seal is one that I didn't find much of worth in.  Somehow it looks both really good and really cheap, with intricate detail in its backdrops and portraits and stiff, lifeless animation for its in-game characters, which sucks the energy right out of what should be tense and exciting battles.  The mix-and-match class and ability system is here too, though it doesn't improve things any - it's just a small handful of FFT's classes, items and abilities, either made stupidly overpowered (one of the very first helmets you get cuts ice damage by 50% while the gold-steal ability does 85% of the damage of a normal attack AND steals a big wad of cash, meaning there's really no reason to use your standard attack ever again) or debuffed to the point of being worthless.  Combat is ungodly slow and drawn-out, with every character you fight being an overleveled meatshield that takes tens of hits to bring down, and the fact that they will do things like steal items from you with unavoidable counter moves and then promptly use them themselves to deliberately waste your resources, drag the fight out further and add more grinding after the fact is downright frustrating.  Every 'battle' is just a tedious hours-long trial-and-error-fest as you hunt for the one exact party setup and loadout that'll let you win, and no amount of improvisation, level grinding or -gasp- tactics will let you edge out a victory otherwise.  Cutscenes drag on and on, with no interesting characters, predictable plot points and wooden dialog that's about as fun to sit through as a live reading of a phone book; but of course the game's marketing lists 'mature storytelling' as one of its selling points, ensuring that a legion of 13-year-old morons and 41-year-old unemployable manchildren will launch a vicious hate campaign against you if you criticize it for any reason.  Not out of any actual fondness for Fell Seal, mind you, but just to make sure everyone who crosses their path knows that their phrenology tests and Steam libraries and cheevo lists and bookshelves full of PhD-level works (but nary a cracked spine on them, natch) prove they're supreme 193-IQ Übermenschen who are too smart and genetically superior for all the faggy baby 'casual' entertainment media lowbred simpletons like you enjoy and that you should totally take them and their amazing views on eugenics seriously before you're penciled in for the next cross burning duder.  6 Eyes Studio seems perfectly content to be associated with this particular brand of gross-ass bully too, because when they say so many nice things about their game (no matter how disingenuous or self-serving) and score them more sales through their press-gang tactics so that they can make strides in stripping digital gaming away from filthy casuals who just want entertainment and put it back in the hands of the intellectual elite who get off on crunching numbers and manipulating spreadsheets for days at a time before they see any tangible results, they can't possibly be bad people, right?  Basically, for a game that costs $30, Fell Seal offers too little of value to be worth a purchase, especially when games like Horizon's Gate, Symphony of War, Divinity Original Sin II, Triangle Strategy, Civ, the XCOM series and even the games it clearly yearns to be worshipped alongside - Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Ogre - can all be gotten at a comparable price and have leagues more to offer in terms of production design, fun factor and story content.

Developer: 6 Eyes Studio
Publisher: 1C Publishing EU
Released: 2018
Platforms: Playstation 4, Switch, PC, Linux, Mac OS, Xbox One