Mortal Shell-borne.

Title: Mortal Shell
Platform: PC, Xbox One and PS4 (reviewed)
Developer: Cold Symmetry
Publisher: Playstack London
Release date: August 18th
Tl;dr: Hard to learn but rewarding Soulsborne that stomps all over you!
Price: $30/£25
Family Focus?: Click here for more information

Ever since Dark Souls ignited the passion for punishing action RPGs in 2011, the industry has begun filling up with all sorts of clones in the newly founded genre called, Soulsborne. Mortal Shell is another title in the Soulsborne genre that takes more cues from Demons Souls.

The beginning of Mortal Shell starts with you waking up in some misty and desolate ruins as the adventure steadily teaches you the mechanics of the game, such as a move called ‘hardening’ which allows you to bounce enemy attacks which is the core mechanic of Mortal Shell. The end of the tutorial concludes with a battle against Hadern who has similar abilities to you and it’s possible to beat him in the tutorial – I didn’t – but it is possible as there is an achievement for it. If you fail, a large fish swallows you up and takes you to the swampy woods where you acquire your first shell of many shells.

Mortal Shell is much like other Soulsborne games with enemies that deal high levels of damage that makes you plan out every move carefully, but unlike other titles in the genre, Mortal Shell has a steeper learning curve as you don’t have the checkpoints that restore your curative items once you’ve used them: they are in short supply making each encounter a brush with death, well in my experience anyway… I’m usually pretty good at these games.

Mortal Shell has a second chance system much like 2019’s From Software title, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Upon losing all your health you get kicked out of your shell and if you can make it back to your body or shell, you will restore your health allowing you another chance taking down your adversary, however, when you’re knocked out of your shell, you have very little health which means you could die before making it back.

Unfortunately, dying is painful not just because you lose your progress but because the load times on console are incredibly painful, which will potentially put a lot of people off. Nioh 2 was a similar game and the load times between deaths were incredibly short allowing people to learn without getting bored of long load times. I don’t usually like comparing indie games with AAA developers but the load times in Mortal Shell spoiled my rhythm between deaths, I mean I could just die less but eh.

Graphically, Mortal Shell is a beautiful game and highly detailed however, on PlayStation it has terrible ghosting around things like grass and other scenery which can be distracting at times. I feel like I’m putting this game down an awful lot but I did thoroughly enjoy it, even though the load screens did make me tip my head back and groan loudly because wow they are painful. Maybe Mortal Shell is too optimistic of a game for current generation consoles.

Overall, Mortal Shell is a punishing game which very few people will probably stick around and learn because of the long load times which will probably make the PC version of Mortal Shell, the optimal version to purchase unless they manage to find a way to drastically reduce load times between deaths. Mortal Shell is rewarding when you finally learn the ropes and it keeps you on your toes as I have been caught screaming because an enemy dove out from around the corner and frightened the shit outta me! Honestly, I highly suggest you give it a go but get it on PC or console if you have the patience to put up with the load times.

The Good

  • Stunning graphics.
  • A fresh take on the Soulsborne formula.

The Bad

  • Long load times between deaths may put some off from learning.
  • Hard to pick up.

Family Focus

Mortal Shell is rated PEGI 16 and M for Mature by the ESRB. A dark fantasy game filled with death and blood.

This review is based on a retail code of the game supplied by PR for the purpose of review.