What I'm Playing - No. 75
Welcome back to another weekly wrap-up of the games I’ve been playing over the past week!
Be warned, minor spoilers may be contained within. Generally, I do try to keep things spoiler-free but this isn’t always possible/practical! If you want to totally avoid all potential spoilers so you can play these games yourself in a blind run, you shouldn’t continue reading! Click a title to skip to that section. Games contained within this post:
Gravity Rush: Remastered (PS4)
I finished my playthrough this week! The story was pretty awesome, but definitely left me with some lingering questions. It’s not like it’s a cliffhanger ending, there’s just a few questions that aren’t fully answered. I’m assuming the sequel has at least a few answers, and that’s another reason I’m really looking forward to playing it now!
Honestly, I pretty much covered all there is to the gameplay last time. There’s not really anything new to talk about this week. The gravity mechanics played out pretty much the same way they had in the beginning, but they remained fun throughout the experience! The plot takes some pretty wild turns and implicates a few things that I’m still really trying to wrap my head around, but I won’t spoil anything here. Instead, let’s talk about the incredible art direction! Hekseville is such a cool steampunk-esque world, both mysterious and inviting. You can access a gallery of concept and character art from the main menu, and I spent some time looking through this after finishing the game. This game was extremely charming, and Kat is a big reason for that. Her art and dialogue are both super endearing! I whole-heartedly recommend Gravity Rush: Remastered to anybody who is able to get their hands on it or the original version.
Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark (PC)
I started playing this SRPG this week. My copy is on Steam, but it’s also available for PC on Gog, as well as on PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. I’m glad it’s so widely available, because my initial impression is that this is one no SRPG fan should miss, particularly if you’ve enjoyed any game in the Final Fantasy Tactics series!
As advertised on the Steam Store page, Fell Seal is very reminiscent of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance (FFTA), with a few twists giving it a unique feeling. The class change wheel is basically straight out of that game, as well as the ability to learn and set abilities from other classes. Your character will always access to the skills they know from their primary class, as well as their primary class’s unlocked passive abilities, but you can also choose a secondary class to access its skills during combat, you have 2 extra passive slots and a counter slot that you can put any other passive and counter abilities the character has learned, regardless of what class they’re from. The way you unlock new classes for a character by learning the requisite number of abilities from other classes is also very like FFTA. The way you learn abilities is different though. You get ability points (AP) from battle, but rather than abilities being learned from equipment, you instead spend ability points on skill trees for each class. What’s cool is that your character will also gain a little AP for all unlocked classes, even if it’s not their current primary class. This helps unlock more class options for them without having to grind for it.
Visually, the game is also similar to FFTA. Isometric 2D visuals with blocky, diorama-like maps. I really like it!
Combat is really enjoyable too. Again, it plays rather like FFTA. Characters get turns based on who has the highest speed, but you can also make a character’s turn come sooner by not having them perform an action on their turn. Moving doesn’t count as an action, so they can move freely and as long as they avoid attacking or using an item or ability, their next turn will come a little sooner. All of this is shown very clearly in-game thanks to the turn order bar at the top of the screen. This bar also contains health bars for every unit, so it’s really useful!
As much as I keep comparing Fell Seal to FFTA, it has several unique mechanics that set it apart. Items work differently. Your items restock at the beginning of each battle, and you can’t buy more of them but instead have to craft upgrades for your items to increase their potency and uses per battle. It’s pretty cool, and it really makes it easier to justify using items since you don’t need to worry about saving them for difficult battles or anything. Also, when one of your units falls in battle, they will sustain an injury. Even if they’re revived that battle, they’ll still have an injury, and if they’re KO’d again they get another injury, and so on. A character with an injury has reduced stats, so they won’t perform as well as usual. An injury can be healed by having the character not participate in battle. So if a unit has 2 injuries, just have them sit on the bench for 2 battle and they’ll be good as new. It’s an interesting system, I’ll admit it took a little getting used to. It felt pretty punishing at first, but once I got used to it and built up a bigger roster of characters, I kind of grew to like it. It really makes it worth trying to keep your units alive, but when you do have injured units it gives you a reason to put in other members of your party that you might not otherwise use.
Speaking of the party, it’s highly customizable. With the exception of a few units integral to the main story, you can freely recruit and customize units. You can adjust what level they’ll start at, up to the level of the highest character in your party, and it costs more to recruit them the higher their level. You get to fully customize each unit your recruit in a little character creator too. You choose their starting class out of any that someone in your roster has unlocked, including advanced classes. You also get to choose a character portrait for them, and there are a lot of options to choose from. You can also use your own custom portraits, so I made one of Ann from Persona 5. I’ve been enjoying using the in-game portraits too though. It’s fun to find an interesting one, and then try to match their sprite to it as closely as possible.
Another aspect of Fell Seal I really respect the developers for including is the option to fine tune the difficulty to your individual tastes. When starting a new game, and during your playthrough between battles, you can pick from a predefined difficulty like the usual “easy, normal, hard,” kind of thing, but you can also adjust the difficulty at very specific levels by changing how individual mechanics work. If you don’t like the injury system, you can just turn it off. If you feel enemies use items too often, you can turn off “Enemies have items” and they won’t have access to items at all. You could also tweak these settings to make the game harder too. If injuries aren’t intense enough on the default setting, you could turn them all the way up to the “Permadeath” setting, which makes injuries permanent and sets it so that a character who has accumulated 5 injuries can’t be used in battle ever again. I’ve been playing on Veteran difficulty, which seems to be like the game’s Normal difficulty mode for those who have played SRPGs before, and I’ve found the balance really enjoyable. Some battles have been a struggle to survive, and I’ve ended up with several injured characters, but I’ve always triumphed in the end! That’s all I’ll say about Fell Seal for now. It’s been really great so far!