The Let's Play Archive

Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark

by OOrochi

Part 85: Difficulty Options

Side Update: Difficulty Options

Thanks to the comments, I realized I was probably putting out an impression of the game being harder than it needs to be. Whether that’s mostly due to my difficulty choices or my actual playing skill is a mystery for the ages, but I should still probably go over all of the ways that you can customize things.

Here’s the box with all of the settings. You set them at the beginning of the game, but can change them at any time from the troops screen.

At the top there are 6 presets to pick from, but I’ll go over them once I hit the actual meat of the options.

Injury System
This has 5 different setting that you can pick from:
So there are a few options. Personally, I don’t think a game like this really lends itself to permanent injuries or death, because you invest a lot in your characters (though the AP and EXP catch up systems do help), but I do want there to be some small consequence to only winning by the skin of your teeth. I also just want my team to develop at about the same speed, so I prefer the default version, but the AP Malus would work as well.

Random Numbers

There are only 2 options for this one:

Normal (A flat 1D100 is rolled for every action to determine success)

Weighted (“The game will use a randomizing system that’s more in the player’s favor”)

I looked around and couldn’t find exactly how the weighted RNG is done, but it’s definitely noticeable if you choose it. This is pretty much up to preference, and I just didn’t see any need to change it.

Enemy Level Scaling

This has 3 options:
On default, a general rule is that, after about the first temple, the max level will go up by 1-2 levels for every story map that you progress through. Before then, it’s pretty irregular and can jump a few more levels at a time. They’re also pretty generous in the first place. For example, Phougamouth Bogs has a default range of 20-35.

Personally, I like being able to go back to a bunch of different maps to fight and not having the option to just out-level enemies and brute force through (though that would take quite a bit of grinding to actually hit the level cap). Otherwise, I think that any of the settings can work.

Raw Stats Scaling

There are 5 options here, all of which are pretty straightforward.
All of these are percentile bonuses or penalties to all enemy units’ stats.

I get annoyed when I see that units are just straight up better than my units are and prefer to give them boosts through other means, but this is a solid option to either boost or reduce the difficulty at a consistent rate.

Added Enemies

There are 3 settings here
All other things equal, this is probably the most impactful difficulty setting. I’m not exactly sure which maps “some” doesn’t include, but it seems like most maps will get extra enemies with the extra or elite settings. And the Elite enemies are usually just the next step up (i.e. a Belzebinder instead of a Blardger or a Komainu instead of a Vangal).

I like running this on elite because it adds a challenge to the map itself, rather than just making the enemies’ numbers bigger. But this also helps explain why most fights start off roughly, because instead of starting off even or at 7 v 6 odds, I’m usually running 8 to 9 or even rarely 10 v 6, which can have drastic effects on the fight just due to the action economy the other team gets.

It also snowballs a bit with both giving enemies more items (since the extra actions let them heal more effectively) and letting them revive at a normal rate (because it’s harder to keep any momentum going if the extra enemies can bring back whoever you take out).

Enemies' Gear

This has 4 options:
One thing to note is that the number of filled slots does increase as the game goes on, so these settings are a bit nebulous compared to the specific bonuses enemies get from other ones.

I prefer More, because it gives enemies a boost and usually an extra status immunity or 2, but doesn’t go crazy. On the other hand, Full is fine late game, but it seems to me that it can make the early game much harder when stats are small and your status infliction tools are limited.

Enemies Passives/Counter

There are just 2 settings here:
Passives and Counter abilities are pretty significant, so I’m not a fan of just taking them away from enemies. The “if their level is high enough” simply means that early enemies won’t be running around with the full set of 4 passives and counters before it’d be feasible for you to come at all close to doing so yourself.

Enemies use Revive

This has 4 settings:
The 2nd most impactful difficulty setting in my opinion. The game even warns you that selecting More could “lead to significantly longer battles”.

I don’t like None because IMO enemies should have some ability to recover losses. And then the choice between Less and Default comes down to preference. With boosted items, enemies have 2 uses of phoenix ashes, so I prefer Default so that they actually can use whatever additional revival skills they have. The main issue is that if you end up with 1 or 2 bulky enemies that have revives left, they can do a chain of revivals that makes the whole thing drag on a bit.

And I think More could be a very interesting setting if you didn’t go for Elite on the Added Enemies like I prefer. With more even numbers, it’d make reviving and healing an enemy have an actual solid opportunity cost for the enemy, instead of being nearly free thanks to their numbers.

Enemies Have items

There are 3 settings here:
This is another one that is mostly up to personal choice. I don’t like None at all, because it significantly neuters the Peddler class and in general reduces the options enemies have. Otherwise, Default or Many are both valid choices. I think a general rule for Default is that enemies will have access to about half of what you have, rounded up (so usually 1 copy of an item, occasionally 2). I could probably turn it down to default, just due to the number of enemies making item much cheaper free turn-wise, but I’m used enough to Many that I’ll probably just keep it.

Enemies Use Items

This has 2 settings:

I see this as a bit unnecessary, since item use should generally be covered by the previous setting. Still, I guess this could be a solid way of reducing item use without totally neutering the Peddler.

So yeah, this game has a ton of ways to customize the difficulty however you want.

For reference, the presets are:

I think that my settings are between Hard and Very Hard (closer to Hard though), which might explain a bit as to why the game seems difficult. My main concessions were to avoiding any stat bonuses, the super slog of max revivals, and the early game difficulty spike of full accessories.