Sceal (PC) Review

By Thom Compton 22.01.2017

Review for Sceal on PC

Story isn't always important in video games. After all, there is a sport, some might say, to some of them, where story seems better suited for other mediums. That doesn't mean it's impossible to inject a healthy amount of story into a title though, or even make it the focal point of a game. This can allow players to experience tales of all kinds of emotion in a more vicarious manner, giving them a deeper insight. At this, Sceal finds its own particular brand of perfection.

If looking for an experience that is long, heavy on gameplay, or has the most cutting edge graphics, turn back now. Sceal is short, has little actual interactivity, and has a look very much all its own. Inspired by Gaelic tales, this manages a lot in its short run time, although it isn't without some torn pages. Artistically, and it may be the most obvious way to start discussing Sceal, it's hard to really recall any other titles like it. Using traditional Gaelic art, this little piece of humanity feels alive with very little in the way of animation.

While the townsfolk move slowly around, they still feel as though they have a purpose. It's easy to empathize with these people, as they almost seem real. Sceal also manages to have one of the most engaging soundtracks in a game in some time. It's not going to get you pumped up, but what it does manage to do, is make the entire experience feel even more real. Between instrumental pieces and vocal songs, it's easy to get caught up in everything this is selling.

The story is interesting, but it manages to feel somewhat rushed. This isn't just due to the short play time, but also the fact that it doesn't become clear why a lot of it matters until the very end. While the tale of a young girl's spirit trying to gather her memories could easily run the emotional gambit, it's hard to care about her until right before the end. The story manages to feel heavy, though, as it deals with things like our legacy and how people will remember us after we die.

Screenshot for Sceal on PC

The gameplay will be the deciding factor in how a lot of gamers feel, and that's in large part to do with how little there is. The player will mostly be exploring the small towns, finding individuals who need specific things, and then painting them back into existence. Painting just requires finding the various items, and then clicking a bubble over them, before dragging the mouse around them to paint. It's much more satisfying than it sounds, as the artwork gives each unpainted canvas the feel that it's covered in fog. Unearthing each structure or tree does feel oddly rewarding, despite how little one actually does.

The actual act of exploring the towns and surrounding areas is much more difficult than it needs to be. A large mechanic, if you can call it that, is that players will find different paths, and must then use the directional signs in the roadway to change them. This sounds simple enough, but usually ends with trying to select the path a few times before actually going up it. The actual act of movement should make this easier, as the player just drags the mouse and the spirit follows it. It still manages to feel very off, as your spirit has a tendency to skate past certain spots.

The beauty of Sceal, though is how short it ends up being. While it may seem like it's not worth it for something that lasts just around an hour, it aids it in feeling like a beautiful poem more than a game. While it's well worth the experience, the frays end up showing quite a bit. None of the "quests" are particularly interesting, just filler for between the stories, and while they all require painting things back into existence, they only further highlight the issues that come with exploring the island. Fortunately, the short time not only gives the game a real sense of poetic storytelling, it ensures that these annoying issues never become too irritating to overcome.

Screenshot for Sceal on PC

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Sceal is, in terms of narrative-driven games, a must-have. It comes with considerable baggage, but at the end, it's clearly worth the time spent. Again, if too much story and very little gameplay sounds like a big flaw, steer clear. As for everyone else, there's something incredibly unique to be found here.


Joint Custody


Joint Custody





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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