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Mortal Shell | Souls-esque Action RPG


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Publisher Playstack and developer Cold Symmetry have announced Mortal Shell, an “uncompromising, authentic, and hauntingly beautiful” action RPG built upon the “ruthless traditions of the soulslike genre.” It will launch for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in Q3 2020.

The game, known in its early development days as Dungeonhaven, has produced by a core team of 15 people who have worked on “some of the biggest AAA titles on the market.”

“For a small team like ours, developing this title in many ways felt like crossing an ocean on a paddle board,” Cold Symmetry co-founders Andrew McLennan-Murray, Anton Gonzalez, and Vitaly Bulgarov said in a joint statement. “To finally announce Mortal Shell is one of the most exciting and terrifying experiences we’ve had in our lifetimes. The last two years have been a time of non-stop growth, full of shocking revelations of sheer complexity that goes into creating a video game that you, yourself, would really enjoy playing.”

 

Beta sign up soon - https://www.mortalshell.com/

 

 

 

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  • 2 months later...

I'm always a bit dubious when I see a game labelled as a 'Souls-like', and although it does look very obviously derivative, it also looks pretty decent, actually. The combat seems to have a lot of weight to it, quite reminiscent of the God of War reboot. The animation looks great, too. I'm not sure about the environments, however; as striking as these sort of dream-like settings can be in games, they're also often a bit bland, like the void sections of the Dishonored games, or the equivalent bits in Astral Chain. Hopefully it's not like that for the entire game.

 

I'll be interested to see how the beta goes and if they stick to their Q4 2020 release date. One to watch!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Positive preview from GameSpot:

 

Quote

All those elements work to make Mortal Shell deliberate, strategic, and calculating in a way that's similar to, but not the same as, From Software's games. The fact that you can't heal instantly means you have to be extremely cautious, but the fact that you can harden your body to absorb a blow in an emergency or as part of a battle strategy allows you to find other ways to recover. Mortal Shell is a tough and punishing game like those that inspire it, but in the short preview we played, it found ways to take elements of the Dark Souls formula and recombine them into something new.

 

What I'm most interested in with Mortal Shell, though, is its strange and seemingly vast world. I have no idea yet who the spirit-like player character is, or the identity and role of Sister Genessa, or what this world is supposed to be, or who lives there. I want to know more about Harros and Tiel, their histories, and their seemingly untimely deaths.

 

 

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It's very Dark Souls 3, and it chucks a bunch of items and such at you from the get-go. It's also tough as nails I found, with even the basic enemies finishing you off in three hits if you're not careful. It looks great, and the weapon(s) feel solid enough, but there seems to be a few mechanics that aren't explained very well (or I wasn't paying enough attention). 

 

The game even has very early section where you can try and take on en enemy much tougher than yourself, for an early reward. It throws more enemies at you than you'd expect. The out of body stuff is quite neat, and I think I found a section where you can swap character styles (looked liked I went from a knight to a thief). I'm obviously very rusty, but it felt quite tough to begin with. I did like that the first section had a number of small looping paths you could explore. 

 

Initial impressions generally positive, but apart from hardening mechanic, it doesn't yet seem to do anything we've not seen a number of times before. 

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I know betas these days are always a shit show of, whose in who is not. But the Discord and Twitter posts from the developers over the past two days, each comprising of 25 "first-come-first-served" codes, all snapped up by bots within seconds is the wrong way to go about it. They then tried a lottery of best answer to a pointless question wins, which is an even more ludicrous lottery.

 

But today they finally realised that they had seriously underestimated the interest in yet another Souls-like, and opened the doors to everyone. That to me, speaks volumes about this development team going forward!

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Gave this a go...it felt more like lords of the fallen than darksouls. Heavy and unresponsive.

 

Summit about the combat is just "off", its like it needs tightening up, along with the movement controls. If the could get the feel of the combat down it could be good.

 

Also, that parry mechanic...what!? Again, something that needs to be more responsive and intuitive, as at the moment, its really hard to judge if its going to work, or if the timing is there, or it seems to just not work!?

 

Visuals we're alrite, and i would give it a go when it comes out, if, they tighten it up!

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1 hour ago, 5R7 said:

Summit about the combat is just "off", its like it needs tightening up, along with the movement controls. If the could get the feel of the combat down it could be good.

 

Also, that parry mechanic...what!? Again, something that needs to be more responsive and intuitive, as at the moment, its really hard to judge if its going to work, or if the timing is there, or it seems to just not work!?

To be fair this is exactly what I thought the first time I played Demons.. 

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3 minutes ago, robdood said:

To be fair this is exactly what I thought the first time I played Demons.. 

hmm, i can switch between Demons, Dark souls 1 and 3 with no issues at all, bar the parry timing in 3. tbf, i strated with demons when it came out, heck i imported it from the states lol

 

But go play 2, and it feels off, as it is. which is how i find this, its like playing lords of the fallen!

 

They could improve it though as its not due out for a while is it?

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Had a look at this. It's got a lot of promise, but is definitely leaning towards the 'harder than Dark Souls' side of things. Haven't really got the hang of parry yet, and the beta build has crashed on me a couple of times so not sure how much more time I'll put in. I'll keep an eye on it though.

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Looks boss. I'm currently dawdling in my play through on DS3. I'm not one for NG+ as there's just so much in my backlogue but as I say I'm basically putting off finishing the game as I need a Souls game to dip into now and again. I'm a crazy level so I really should either just fight the last couple of bosses or start a NG+ but this game may satiate the need until Elden Ring and have me just wrap up DS3 like I should.

 

We'll see.

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It is a very strange game, I've been recording footage as I might put a little critique together if I can be arsed.  But initial impressions.  (ignoring bugs, as they're not really relevant)

 

  • Harden is a pretty neat idea, it can save you from stun locks or mistakes / being ambushed when you are committed to an attack
  • Harden probably takes too long to recharge though
  • Parry timing is absolutely bizarre, I'm not sure why.  The animation is quick so it feels like it should be 'instant' but it isn't, there's a definite delay before the parry becomes active. 
  • This means you have to learn every enemy's animations to learn when to press the button.  You can't really rely on reactions to parry, which feels counter intuitive to me, and is what every action game that isn't Japanese seems to get wrong
  • You can only riposte if you build up a special meter by attacking enemies. It takes longer than it needs to to build up
  • Riposte is the only guaranteed heal you have, which feels mad because you get killed in 2 or 3 hits
  • The special meter is also used for weapon 'super arts', which would be neat if my guy didn't always seem to riposte even if I don't press R1 after a parry
  • Dodge has a delay between you pressing the button and the dodge happening.  This is very odd because the other button presses have instant animations/reactions, and makes using dodge as a survival tool very awkward because you have to still learn animations and can't just use it on reaction
  • However, once I got used to spamming dodge/roll ahead of time it became quite useful as you seem to be invincible the whole time
  • There's a neat thing where smaller/weak enemies will get scared/fall over when you kill their comrades, can feel badass when you fight 4 at once and they all shit themselves
  • Archers in this game actually shoot arrows on a trajectory, which completely threw me at first but is really cool because it makes it harder to tell where they are
  • It feels like you're not ever really supposed to spam attacks, there's a long window for you to pause and continue attack strings, so I think you're supposed to sort of hit > wait > decided to defend or hit and get into a rhythm.  
  • But I would die so quickly it basically put me off trying to learn parrying, especially against the huge enemies that hit like a truck
  • When your health gets really low, you get ejected from your 'shell' (body) temporarily and are super vulnerable, if you touch your 'corpse' you regain full hp. Only works once before you die permanently though
  • (your second shell remains in the world to be used as a free heal next time you respawn)
  • Of course your corpse all enemies freeze temporarily so I'm not sure how this is supposed to make it tactical or interesting. A lot of the time I could just immediately recover my body by running straight to it
  • I liked that there were 'renewable' pickups in the environment like the healing mushrooms, which come back after a short while and can be collected again
  • A lot of the consumable had very weird one-shot effects; e.g. after next successful parry, enemy catches fire
  • I think ultimately a lot of my trouble was 'trying to play it like souls' but they could defo tighten some things up to make it feel fairer / more reliable

Still one to watch imo, if they can get the 'feel' right for defense it would be much better. 

 

Gonna try some more a bit later! 

 

 

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  • 5 weeks later...

Nice! I wasn't 100% sold based on the beta, but i think thats because i was playing the sluggish Shell and i didn't persevere long enough to unlock Agility one (more my style).

 

I'll definitely be picking up the PC version so i can get stuck in proper and see what its all about.

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  • 2 weeks later...

huh...so this disappeared off steam...as its been "exclusived" by epic...even though they are against monoplys, they seem to think its ok to restrict where i can purchase things...yeah...ok...

 

well, wont be getting this till next year...

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Reviews for this are trickling in. 75/100 currently on Metacritic. PC Gamer gave it 80:

 

Quote

While no masterpiece, Mortal Shell is nonetheless a capable fighter. Both its world and story are entertaining to investigate, with glimpses of brilliance hidden amidst its gloomy environments and obscure characters. Ultimately, Mortal Shell is not a Souls game, but it is the best not-Souls game I've played so far.

 

It's being sold at £25, too. I'll give it a go when it's down to £15, I think.

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Got this on PS4 earlier and after an evening getting to grips with the combat I’m suitably impressed. Really liking the harden mechanic and the way that consumables seem to level up as you use them more.

 

Parrying the bigger enemies seems a bit trickier than the grunts as they have bigger wind up animations and I’m never sure when to hit it, but damn if it isn’t satisfying when it connects.

 

Although the load time to get you back in when you die can do one. 45 seconds!

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