Mortal Shell places us in front of a game with a strong inspiration in Dark Souls. However, it adds its own elements that make it unique in its kind and that help to understand its complexity. In this analysis we tell you everything.
But first of all, what exactly is Mortal Shell? This is the debut in the gaming industry of Cold Symmetry, an indie studio founded by just four people. Although in these three years until the launch of the game it has been nurturing veterans in AAA titles with a great passion for making games with their own personality.
Little by little, the number of people working on the game grew, reaching a total of 15. That’s right, Mortal Shell has been created by 15 minds willing to give a new touch to this genre. They have managed to be inspired and at the same time have brought something very innovative.
With these premises, a game was born that is more than an ode to Dark Souls. Although it shares a desolate and extremely cruel world with the FromSoftware saga, with a fantastic medieval setting. This game is ready to give a touch of elegance and death, although it remains somewhat vague in history.
Waking Up From A Long Sleep?
Already in the early stages of the game, Mortal Shell presents us with a unique mechanic. Our character (this time there is no editor, but a “naked” hero) is capable of hardening himself. Broadly speaking, this mechanic translates into the hero’s ability to transform into stone, and thus resist the enemy’s attacks. Something that is essential, considering that in this world everything will want us dead.
Still, our most amazing ability is the ability to get into the bodies of fallen warriors; we can enjoy their different statistics, as if they were a kind of armor. The game offers different vessels, 4 warriors, but each with different statistics.
This is what the name of the game, Mortal Shell, refers to as the premise is to occupy these vessels. The ones you can find are scattered throughout Fallgrim, the game’s world. But what happens if they eliminate us from the game?
The World, Be Careful Around It
In Mortal Shell, being weakened doesn’t mean “dying”. After taking our first steps and dispatching the first enemies, one of the paths leads us to a pantheon where Sester Genessa awaits. She will be our “spirit guide”, so to speak, and will help us improve our Vessel; incidentally, she also has the role of a souls-like bonfire since we will return to it in case of death.
If our health reaches zero we will be expelled from the vessel, but we can return to it once more. The next time we die, it’s over and we’ll return to Sester Genessa. The main difference is that we don’t have to search for our corpse to recover souls. This NPC offers us a mask that will help us return to her; But in doing so, we will lose all of our inventory.
Well, the pantheon is a pillar to understanding the gameplay of the world and our role. In the graves, there will be revelations and some of them will lead us to new vessels. There is a familiarity system that should be highlighted: the more we use an object, the more we will know about it and therefore the better we will use it. It is an original way to learn about the game’s lore and items.
You will know little more about the world from here. On the top floor of this place there will be an entity, from which you will get the Imbued Seal and will ask you to get the sacred glands of the venerated ones. As you may have guessed, this is obtained from bosses. He’ll ask you to take them to him so he can extract the genuine nektar. So he can heal himself, since he is in chains and cannot move.
Vessels And Hardening?
After exploring different regions of the map, you will only be able to get four vessels. The vessels you get are stored in the first Pantheon you visit and that’s where you can change vessels. From the main menu you can only see it’s statistics and name. As with weapons, you can take one with you, no more. And the armor? There isnt, that element is dispensed by having the different vessels and the ability to Harden.
An interesting detail is how to get these weapons, the first of which will be get by fighting a boss. By doing this, you will see another change: you cannot carry more than one weapon. You have to change the weapons at certain points in the game.
Not all RPG aspects have been removed. Talk to Genessa and a skill tree will open that we can unlock with TAR. TAR is like experience, it’s earned by fighting and defeating enemies, or with objects; The first thing that we can acquire with that is the name of the vessel that we control. For the other skills they need much much more TAR. TAR isn’t preserved if you die, instead you lose a little. Let’s say it’s the only thing that is lost when you die.
Ok, Am I Ready To Fight?
That’s right, but some confusing maps will have to be explored to advance. They are labyrinthine, everything leads anywhere and you’ll get lost easily. There is an enemy at every corner and everyone will want to kill you.
If you remember correctly, Sester Genessa is a point of return to the world without penalty; you can find a route and then explore the map calmly. The design is harrowing, as well as a wonderful soundtrack. It’s a compendium of the good thing about mystery games, coupled with a medieval atmosphere that seems to prevent you from moving forward.
Mortal Shell has a save system in important moments, but we’ll always return to Genessa when we start the game. Take this into account if you stop playing very far from her, since even if it has been saved at a specific point, we will start over from the last Sester location visited.
Well, Is Now The Time To Die?
More or less, yes. Just kidding, but in general once we have everything mastered, some fights will become relatively easy. Note that Harden has a short cooldown, just 6 seconds and that you can see in the lower left corner. This means that we can fool the enemy by attacking, turning into rock and then making a combo.
Parrys help, although they are sometimes tricky. To do one, we need to get an Imbued Seal and activate it at the right moment. You must have the determination bar charged. It’s charged by attacking and is represented by five small bars.
The basis of the game is to stop attacks by hardening ourselves and attacking, many times it consists of that and does not offer much more. You can see the love they have put into the game, but it is insufficient in some aspects related to combat and the world itself, which is changing without rhyme or reason. All items can be used in one way or another, either on consumables with or without a time limit.
Cold Symmetry’s Good Beginning
Mortal Shell gives the feeling that it is a souls-like focused game, but offering a direct experience, without many changes. In this you can see the absence of armor, not being able to change vessel or dodge all enemies and go directly to the bosses. In short, they wanted to give their own way of playing remembering the FromSoftware saga.
As additional details, Cold Symmetry has thought that, from the main menu, certain extra options could be included to increase the difficulty level even more. As for example an option to hide the life bar of the bosses, so the tension will always be at the maximum.
Another thing that has been a very notable detail is the “Indie Mode”. By doing so, the entire Mortal Shell will appear with pixelated graphics as if it were a classic game with this style of graphics. Isn’t it a nice thing?
Mortal Shell is a great debut for Cold Symmetry, but it is far from being a rounded game. Although the playable ideas are very good with the vessels, it leaves a foggy story and everything remains in a game with too many facilities, despite the Souls-like inspiration it takes.