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Sceal Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Sceal is a fun and light experience that doesn't overstay its welcome. Unfortunately, that's part of the problem. The story is over and done too quickly, leaving me wanting to know more about the central cast. For what it delivers, this is a gorgeous fairytale with simplistic gameplay and a tragic story. I love the art design and need to download the soundtrack immediately. Sceal will probably bum you out, but in a good way. Rating: 64%
Sceal
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  • Review Score:

  • B-
Sometimes you can just tell that a game is going to bum you out right from the opening moments. That's how a felt about Sceal, a curious new adventure game starring the incorporeal soul of a dead girl. From the color palette to the rhyming couplets to the somber music, I knew that this story was going to make my heart hurt. And you know what? That's exactly what happened.

Named after the Irish word for "story," Sceal tells the tales of a young spirit who is doomed to spend the rest of her life floating above a world she doesn't remember. You see, all of her memories have disappeared, and everything about this small, tight-knit fishing community feels foreign. That is, until the girl encounters the Raven of the Dead, a bird that promises to take the young girl to the afterlife if she can rediscover her identity and collect three hidden feathers.


This is a simple, yet compelling set-up for what turns out to be an incredibly moving experience. You guide the spirit through the 2D world by dragging her heart around. The idea is to look around for familiar locations and then use your mouse to paint in the missing details. This will usually trigger a memory, which will fill in the details leading up to the untimely death.

You'll also find that some of the townspeople have quests for you to complete, such as helping a worried woman bring her husband home safely by lighting the way. What's cool is that our floating spirit will actually morph into somebody else in order to complete the quests, and some of the effects are genuinely fascinating. You're still doing little more than finding and painting objects, but Sceal does a good job of keeping that basic mechanic intriguing.

I suppose it helps that the game is only an hour long. By the time you get bored of the mechanic, the game is over and you're on to the next experience. But the length is also the game's biggest weakness. I mean, sure, we learn all of the details leading up to the girl's death, but not much about who she was before that. I wanted to know more about this young girl and the community she lived in; something that would give us a strong reason to connect with the lost spirit.

The good news is that the speedy storytelling doesn't keep the game from having an emotional punch. When everything unfolds and all is revealed, the revelations are still incredibly powerful. Most of this is conveyed without any kind of conversation, just visual cues and the occasional rhyming couplet. I like the approach, even if I wanted a little more content.

Sceal (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

One thing I can't fault is the art style, which often looks like you're floating through a world made out of paper cut-outs. I love how much they do with this style and wouldn't mind seeing more games embrace the look. It works perfectly for this type of fairytale, and almost looks like a pop-up book come to life. That said, I do wish there was more area to explore and it was easier to select which path you want to take.

Of all the things Sceal gets right, it's the music that stands out the most. The game is filled with haunting Irish folk songs that help to add a thick layer of atmosphere to every chapter. It perfectly fits the downbeat mood and was soothing in a way I wasn't expecting. This is definitely one of those cases where the soundtrack is better than the game.

Sceal is a fun and light experience that doesn't overstay its welcome. Unfortunately, that's part of the problem. The story is over and done too quickly, leaving me wanting to know more about the central cast. For what it delivers, this is a gorgeous fairytale with simplistic gameplay and a tragic story. I love the art design and need to download the soundtrack immediately. Sceal will probably bum you out, but in a good way.
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