Mortal shell is a soulsesque adventure game with a few twists which make the experience a little more unique amongst it’s fellow kindred in that while you have a natural form for most of the game you will inhabit one of four shells each with their own preset builds which you then use the experience you gather to unlock new abilities and moves for that particular shell as opposed to levelling up individual stats
While you cannot upgrade your shells damage specifically you are provided the opportunity to upgrade your damage via modifying one of the four weapons you can utilize with special materials you have to hunt down through the game which can add a great advantage to taking down the enemies you will encounter, which is useful as you can transfer these weapons between the various shells as opposed to perhaps if you were able to upgrade a shells damage and change shell which would have essentially nerfed your capabilities.
I was expecting from the concept to be able to take the shell from any enemy and perhaps be left with a series of weaker shells hopping from form to form and potentially stealing minibosses along the way, potentially a thought for any sequels but the shells you can inhabit were suitably different so people could find a different challenge and playstyle within each.
The overworld itself is made up of 3 main area’s adjoined by one heavily intertwining maze like middle zone which in itself is full of many crawl holes literally intertwining the world in an area that is so maze like it’s very easy to get lost within and potentially miss many of the secrets hidden throughout it’s caverns.
Each of these area’s ultimately has it’s own boss within and if you’re struggling to find the next zone to go to the game does a good job of providing the ability to sense the location of the shells and weapons you haven’t gathered through a series of hints to lead the way via breadcrumbs, though not necessarily the shortest or most direct path, but this is very helpful to avoid getting lost within the mazelike nature of the fallgrim outskirts.
Gathering the shells and weapons won’t be as easy as that though as you will often have to face a challenge before you can gain them, whether it’s defeating a hardern clone which has the weapon you’re trying to win or perhaps other boss like enemies guarding the shells you would like to gain, this will add to the sense of acomplishment for obtaining them however and often the advantages are worth passing the challenge so I would recommend seeking them out.
There are many hidden things to discover on your adventures with hints of secret bosses within the fog as well as npc’s to speak to and discover the hidden lore of the world and even the opportunity to forsake all shells should you choose (probably not recommended on your first playthrough) I did however find the game a little short taking me around 9 hours to defeat all 3 dungeons and their bosses and get to the final boss who is a league above in terms of health and challenge but again not insurmountable. Your playtime may differ though as I am very familiar with how to play games like this and adapted easy to discovering the bosses patterns, though they are challenging especially with the lack of health on many of your shells which will require you to be very good in order to take them down.
If you are heading to the ice caverns however you may wish to be prepared as after taking on the captured grinsha miniboss you will be softlocked into the area and forced to take out the boss if you wish to escape the dungeon, which may lock you off from upgrading your skills or potentially changing to a more appropriate shell if you lack the items to do so in your inventory.
Each area did a good job of being unique with very different enemies within each, and the fog overworld changing under circumstances I won’t spoil was very clever and essentially provided an extra area of challenge to explore, so while the game may be pretty small you didn’t find yourself in places of a similar nature over and over again, each zone had it’s own challenges both in area design as well as unique and vastly differing enemy types to fight your way through towards the boss.
I would recommend checking it out for yourself and exploring all the nooks and crannies for yourself, though you may not end up using most of the items you gather because you will not know what they do until you use them, and gathering the healing items can be a little imbalanced requiring you to farm over time the growing spots in order to have enough heals rather than a limited supply you always get per attempt, otherwise you may be short and found wanting much of the time, but other than that it’s a fairly solid and fun experience with challenge for even an experienced gamer who is familiar with the genre.
Get mortal shell for yourself on epic now at https://www.epicgames.com/store/en-US/product/mortal-shell/home
Available in 2021 on steam at https://store.steampowered.com/app/1110910/Mortal_Shell/