Mortal Shell review

Set in a shattered world, Mortal Shell is devoid of any story; it’s another entry in the Souls/Borne genre; an unforgiving (read: frustrating) and deep action RPG game where you have to survive thanks to quick reflexes and strategic combat.

Mortal Shell is a third-person action RPG akin to the famed Dark Souls series where enemies are merciless and you’re a lowly shell of a human trying to survive through it all. As you progress and explore, you’ll come across what is called the anima of defeated warriors which are mortal shells. Each shell has its own unique pros and cons; for example, one of the early shells trades stamina for power. And unlike the traditional blocking mechanism, your character turns into stone to reduce the damage taken. Multiple shells can be collected through the game and the more you use them, they will allow players to feel a bit stronger by having additional skills such as adding a touch of acid to your sword.

The main problem here is the lack of accessibility. Creating a Souls/Borne-like game where all it does is punish players is sucks the fun out of it and will result in the game not reaching a broader audience. While challenging games are fun, this genre is pretty niche and can still deter fans of action games due to the high level of difficulty. You can also find support items to health you through your adventure, but the problem is that when you pick up an item for the first time, it doesn’t tell you the effect. You need to use them a set amount of time to discover the effect. When my health was low, I used a found mushroom and it basically ended up having my character walking like a drunk.

Additionally, the tutorial of Mortal Shell will draw players into a false sense of security. While the enemy can be tough, it is killable and feels like a fair battle. But once you step in the real thing, the game becomes frustrating due to the heavy two-hand weapon you’re given at the get-go which feels like it takes forever to land a hit while enemies have taken more of a Muhammad Ali approach. Additionally, the combat controls are relegated to the shoulder buttons; which makes something that should fun and intuitive, clunky and irritating. Unfortunately, you cannot remap them. You get more efficient weaponry but it takes a while.

To make this type of game more approachable and reach a much bigger deserving audience, the game needs to save, or quicksave, after kills. When dying, you’re thrown back to last safe, save place and you have to retrace your steps and re-kill every enemy. It’s a frustrating aspect of the game that stops players to make progress let alone have a feeling of making a dent in the game. The lack of a map is also insanely frustrating; earlier on, you can choose from four different paths all of which filled with overpowered enemies. Having a map could give players a bit of room to breathe as they could try to avoid 3 on 1, 4 on 1 encounters and figure out a way to survive.

Mortal Shell looks dark and drab properly representing the game’s dark and desolate world. Enemy design is a bit reminiscent of enemies from PS4’s Bloodborne, just slightly less detailed. The soundtrack is ambient filled where it’ll be drowned by the combat SFX.

Mortal Shell follows the Souls/Borne genre to a tee. Lacks any accessibility, combat feels sluggish and cumbersome. Considering the game will only appeal to a limited niche of gamers, I cannot recommend Mortal Shell. The clunky combat, the dated visuals, lack of accessibility features, this feels like a cheap Dark Souls clone.

Overall
  • 40%
    CX Score - 40%
40%

Summary

Pros

  • Fans of Souls/Borne genre only need apply

Cons

  • No accessibility features
  • Another Souls/Borne clone
  • Cumbersome button placement
  • Fucking archers

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