Yes, the Souls-Like genre already has many representatives. Nioh, Code Vein, Lords of the Fallen and The Surge are just a few games that have set themselves a goal of tormenting a player. It all started with From Software's Demon Souls, which was released for PS3 at the time. Nobody thought it was going to become their genre at the time, and now we have a salad.
Mortal Shell is the name of a new breed from developer hell and so much is being said, Mortal Shell doesn't have to hide from Nioha, The Surge etc, and even die-hard Dark Souls veterans have to chew Mortal Shell.
Demon souls began then. A brutal and threateningly difficult game is back on the agenda. Why do you ask yourself again? Well, after pixel games a la Battletoads and Ghost'n Ghouls, which were considered buck-heavy games at the time, the trend slipped completely in the direction of “players must have fun with the game”.
Of course, it's by no means a bad turnaround, because games should be fun. But it created games with a lot less challenge and frustration. From software he took it as a model and completely ignored it. The death simulator is also called From Software Games. This trend has developed into a genre of its own, “Souls-Like” or “Souls-Lite” games. Inspired by the game of The Dark Souls. Mortal Shell is the new Souls-like, and whether we tossed a controller against the wall or exposed it is in our review.
Visually, Mortal Shell looks like Souls' little brother, here were designers with a taste and a sense of the mood at work. The title is also technically accumulated, which is actually quite surprising in view of the small development team of only 15 people. Playful ... Well, you basically already knew this game when you first started it. Or he thinks you know: light and heavy attack on R1 and R2, invent a circle button, press it twice and roll out of the way. Use the control cross to select items in quick storage, D-Pad up uses the current item. And when you die (the first time you just fly out of your shell and you can try to come back) you can collect your souls or tar at the place of death.
Difficult, but still feasible
Half-present rooms with lots of clues and real paths to other dungeons, which are in turn connected by corridors and tunnels and other shortcuts, invite you to explore, but also make fun of something because you don't know what's next. But it won't be as twisted and swallowed up as in Dark Souls, Mortal Shell is getting smaller and faster, which is no wonder given the small team, but it prefers to roll out its planes in length and width in front of you.
Looking in vain for the Estus bottle equivalent and instead harvesting mushrooms that will grow in place after cooling, or you may find or buy dishes like rat skewer from a vendor. On paper, I like the system in practice. Well, let's talk about this again. From moment to moment the battle and the way Mortal Shell understands its class system is noticeably different. Instead of deciding on a certain type of warrior first, you'll gradually find the four grenades of fallen fighters you take - a ghostly find with Voldemort's memorial visa - that differ in their core values of health, endurance, and determination.
With the soul equivalent of Tar and the skill points you get for killing enemies, you will gradually unlock seven character-specific skills that play a little more in the maps of your archetypes. Harros, Vassallen, is the first to be found, and he's a classic average knight whose additional skills revolve around defensive hardening. Tiel the altar boy I had, and he was my favorite. With an endlessly long, durable bar, it prefers constant attack lines and nimble avoidance roles. Over time, he even learns not to touch his stamina pool while sprinting. Plus, when it comes out, it melts into a puff of smoke for a moment that looks just amazing. Solomon, a scientist, is an expert in determination, so it suits quite risky and confrontational players, while Eredrim represents the group's tank.
All characters can also learn three skills. Among other things, a punch, a jump into the effect area and the ability to return to your shell after death, as normal. Combined with four different weapons - from slow, flaming zucchini to rotary hammer and chisel - the shells feel pleasantly different, although I have to say my agile game mode was much better at Mortal Shell. And there is the combat system and this is where Souls fans finally get problems because it feels completely different.
New for Souls veterans too
From the start, the mortal grenade battles capture how interesting the rhythm of the fighting is. It's a little bulky, but we love the wide-open one-time windows to attack. For example, hold down the powerful attack button and your character will delay the attack a little. So if you are not in a panic at the keys, you can determine the time of the hit series yourself. In fact, you can even pause a combo, like jumping or switching to another weapon, and then seamlessly let go of multiple punches for as long as your stamina lasts.
What's especially cool about this is that Cold Symmetry didn't want to leave it in a bare block. With the hardening technique, there is an equivalent that is controlled by cooling that will make you laugh for as long as you hold the button - or until the attack breaks the petrification. In this state you can even regenerate stamina. Better still, petrification can occur in the middle of an attack - even in the air. As soon as you release the key or the hardening is broken, your character ends your attack with full force. It's amazing to take a more strategic look at the enemy's attack patterns and think about which blow will hit you in a stone shape and where the opposing combination will cause your opponent to roll over that way.
The determination system is also successful: you load a suitable segmented screen with successful attacks and couple it with a complete determination bar, paving the way for a devastating counter that delivers one of the four effects depending on the seal. It starts with the sheer healing, which makes the parry a nice balance of risk and reward, and then goes over a sticky bomb that even the ultimate opponent will pull a quarter of their energy streak, or most importantly the devastating attacks where your ghostly Avatar runs out of its shell and falls on the enemy.
Mortal Shell easily provides evidence that this studio and series are to be expected in the future. It is a very competent, technically and artistically well executed fun soul, which is perhaps a little more beginner-friendly than the original. Because the fight isn't that tough and the petrification of the character is as strong a tie as an emergency ejection from one of the grenades once fatal damage is required for the first time. We had a really good time with it and we think most of those who weigh in here will do just that.
Unfortunately, that doesn't mean we liked everything. As beautiful as these areas appear, sometimes they are difficult to orientate. The central area of the center of Fallgrimm is so large that one sometimes wishes for optical tracks that lead to where from many trampoline paths. If they existed, they weren't clear enough to us. Sometimes we felt a little lost.
The fact that after a vacation you don't automatically get new medical items - that is, “Estus bottles” - but that health fresheners have to be picked in some way, has challenged our image to an actually very cool determination mechanism: If you have a little healing with you, you play rather on the safe side, running past difficult enemies in fragile situations, instead of risking your head and neck for a healing parade. We have also deployed powerful weapon skills that you might want to use due to the risk involved in the workplace.
Number of players: 1
Age: from 16 (USK)
Long-term motivation: medium to high - and: it depends on how much frustration you can endure!
Publisher: Cold Symmetry / PlayStack
Developer: Cold Symmetry / PlayStack
Year of publication: 2020
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Playstation 4
Languages: German, Russian, Korean, Traditional Chinese, English, Portuguese (Brazil), Italian, French, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Japanese, Spanish (Latin America)
Cost: 29,99 Euro
Even if a lot of little things come together in the end that reveal that the masters of the genre themselves weren't at work here, none of them spoil the fun for me. We enjoyed Mortal Shell for almost 30 hours in a way that can't be explained by the fact that Dark Souls delivered a good blueprint.
If it was only about that, it might have been a little more mature overall Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order must be more fun than this. But it didn't. No, this game has a steadfast character of its own, a knack for a good secret and enough good (and well implemented) ideas to stand out as one of the best in the now quite dense field of Souls Likes. Cold Symmetry is a name that should be remembered and that we are sure to hear and see more about. We are already looking forward to it.
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