RPGWatch Indie Showcase / Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark
Our fourth installment of the RPGWatch Indie Showcase covers Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark. Thanks go out to our member Couchpotato for suggesting we cover this game. Also thanks go out to Pierre and Christina Leclerc for taking the time to answer our questions.
Tell us a little about your background and experience?
Our indie studio, 6 Eyes Studio, is primarily two people: Pierre Leclerc (programmer/husband) and Christina Leclerc (artist/wife). We have a combined ~25 years of experience working in the gaming industry for EA, Activision, Gameloft, and Judges Guild, among others. We met at Studio Archcraft, Pierre's Montreal-based indie studio that released Black Sigil: Blade of the Exiled on Nintendo DS. Studio Archcraft unfortunately needed to shut its doors due to circumstances beyond our control, but on the bright side, it meant that we could form 6 Eyes Studio in Florida and focus on Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark.
How long did it take you to develop your game?
It took about 2-1/2 years' worth of full-time work for the two of us, and probably at least a year of part-time work before that.
What games inspired your game?
Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Ogre are the big ones, as anyone who has played Fell Seal can attest to! Fell Seal is very much a labor of love in honor of those classics, especially taking cues from FFT's awesome Job system. But we're both big into gaming and likely picked up inspiration from all sorts of sources without realizing it. One of the less prominent ones is that Fell Seal's Injury system took some inspiration from XCOM. And the item system, in which the player has a set number of consumable items that automatically refills after every battle, has a bit in common with Dragon Age: Inquisition's item system.
What's the target audience for your game?
Our target audience is anyone who thinks that tactical combat with a ton of potential for in-depth character customization sounds fun. More specifically, one of the reasons we made this game is because we are huge fans of Final Fantasy Tactics, and there hasn't really been anything that scratches that itch in a good 10 years -- or even 20 years depending on whether you count the FFT Advance titles or not, which are fine games in their own right but are very different from the original. So we made the game for people like us who miss that classic style of tactical RPG. That being said, since Fell Seal offers a vast array of difficulty options, even people who are newcomers to the genre have been getting a lot of enjoyment from the game.
How would you describe your game to an interested player?
It's very much like Final Fantasy Tactics, but with some modernized elements like a more user-friendly UI and the option to speed up battles. For those who aren't familar with FFT, the gameplay has three main "phases": the setup phase where you customize your characters using a huge variety of classes and abilities, the tactical combat itself where you bring a team of (usually) 6 characters onto a battlefield and use your wits to achieve victory, and the story scenes that provide the impetus for the combat.
In a huge RPG market, why should players give your game a chance?
We have put love and quality into every facet of the game. As gamers ourselves, we wanted to create something that we ourselves would enjoy playing, and we like to think that it shows. Plus, there hasn't been anything quite like it in decades, so it's definitely worth a look for anyone who's into tactical RPGs.
You're game has gotten some positive feedback. Is there any player comments you found especially noteworthy?
Community feedback has been really great over the course of development! Player comments helped make the game the best it can be, especially what we received during our Steam Early Access. The game's Plague Doctor class probably saw some of the biggest benefits from player input, and it's probably one of our favorites now.
Would you say Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark is more of a strategy or a role playing game? How important are things like exploration and the story in Arbiter's Mark?
We feel that Fell Seal strikes a good balance between tactical and RPG elements, but leaning more toward an RPG than a strategy game for sure. As for the story, it is the driving force for the rest of the game, so I'd say it's a very important part of Fell Seal. Our writer did a great job with the dialogue, which tends toward serious, but has its funny moments too. The story is mostly linear, so exploration is not quite as important as it is in a classic JRPG (although there is a fair amount of side content, to the tune of about 18 optional battles). That being said, all cutscenes can be skipped, so even players that mostly care about strategy should find what they're looking for.
When I look at the visuals of Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark, the first thing that strikes me is that it seems like a marriage of the art direction we see in Japanese games with western sensibilities. While the monsters and characters seem a little more playful and fantastic than those you find in classical western fantasy games, the art definitely seems to stike a more realistic tone and shies away from Japanese Anime. Why did you choose this style?
A marriage of Japanese and Western sensibilities is a great way of putting it! Both have left their mark on Fell Seal's art style. On the Japanese side, we grew up with 16-bit JRPGs like Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger. These games featured sprites with larger-than-normal heads that allowed for more discernible facial expressions, and even though Fell Seal's pixel art is high-res, it still benefits from some of the same techniques. The portraits are more of a blend between Western styles and anime because they serve a different purpose -- the features don't need to be as exaggerated as the sprites', because the portraits are large enough to see the details.
Do you have future plans to support your game? If not do you have plans for another project?
Yes, we do plan to support Fell Seal for the foreseeable future, fixing bugs as they trickle in and so on. We're not sure yet what our next move is for other projects, although there has been some fan enthusiasm for possible DLC. We'll weigh our options and see how it goes!
Thanks for the time to answer our questions. Do you have any final words for players who consider starting this game? any words of advice maybe?
First of all, a big thank you to those who decide to play our game!
For those new to FS:AM and to tactical RPGs in general, some early advice is to think carefully before acting: don't rush in with one character at a time, take note of the turn order, and be wary of friendly fire for area-of-effect spells. And don't neglect your items, since they recharge after every battle!
For more veteran players, I'd say to have fun experimenting: discovery is half the fun, and the game is perfectly beatable even if you don't take advantage of some of the more potent combinations that the game makes possible.
Information aboutFell Seal: Arbiter's Mark
Developer: 6 Eyes Studio
Genre: Tactical RPG
Voice-acting: Partially voiced
Regions & platforms
· Platform: PC
· Released at 2019-04-30
· Publisher: 6 Eyes Studio