A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Game strives to entertain via daunting challenge, high tension, bloody medieval-style combat. The story is largely unexplainable, but themes of courage and tenacity in the face of seemingly overwhelming danger eventually emerge.
Positive Role Models
The player's character has little in the way of personality or discernable motive beyond a desire to continue moving forward and to kill everything that tries to stop him.
Ease of Play
The controls don't take long to learn, but mastery of combat mechanics, strategy, and timing is intentionally challenging. This is an extremely unforgiving game, with enemies that can kill the player's character with just a couple of hits, and bosses that take multiple attempts and plenty of practice to defeat.
Violence & Scariness
Viewed from third-person perspective, the player's character uses heavy bladed, piercing, and blunt weapons to attack humanoids and monsters. Blood spatters with successful strikes, and enemies make moaning sounds as they fall to the ground and die.
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Occasional occurrences of mild profanity such as "hell."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Alcohol-based items can be used as restoratives.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Mortal Shell is a fantasy action role-playing game (RPG) available for download on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PCs. It's meant to thrill players with gritty and challenging medieval-style melee combat and violence. Players take on the role of a withered "foundling" who inhabits the "shells" of defeated warriors, using these bodies to fight humanoid and monstrous enemies. Blood spatters with successful hits, and enemies moan creepily as they crumple to the ground and die. Combat is intense, but it isn't as graphic as in many similar games, such as those in the Dark Souls series. The mostly unexplainable story provides only enigmatic clues as to the protagonist's personality and true motives, but the creatures he fights are clearly aggressive and cruel and mean him lethal harm. In-game text contains occasional mild profanity, and bottles of alcohol can be used as restoratives. Parents should also be aware that this is an extremely unforgiving game in which players are bound to fail frequently. It requires some tenacity and perseverance.
Is It Any Good?
Think of this difficult little action RPG (role-playing game) as Dark Souls lite. Mortal Shell isn't necessarily any less challenging than FromSoftware's vaunted fantasy series, just a bit less sprawling and more manageable to play in smaller chunks. The combat will feel familiar to those who've played action role-playing games, demanding a keen eye and precise timing in order to avoid damage while landing blows. It isn't quite as graphic as you might expect, but it's just as stressful and extremely tense. Death comes frequently, especially at the start, and players will need to be possessed of a certain doggedness to win as they refight respawned enemies in order to make it back to the scene of their most recent slaughter. And it should have enough originality -- the ability to harden the foundling's skin to weather a hard blow, the use of fallen warrior shells as a different kind of class and character progression system -- to hold the attention of players craving a bit of innovation.
What makes Mortal Shell a little less intimidating than a Dark Souls game is its scope. As tough as it is, it shouldn't take most players more than 15 hours to finish. The world is just as satisfyingly labyrinthine as you'd hope, the bosses just as fiendishly difficult as you'd expect, but there's simply a bit less of everything. Fewer areas to explore, fewer enemies to fight, fewer weapons and abilities to master. This is reflected in its substantially lower price tag -- just $30 at launch -- making it a good bet for players who can't afford the sort of time necessary to play and complete most of the much lengthier games in the growing genre of devilishly difficult action RPGs. Mortal Shell doesn't want to be the next Dark Souls, but rather an alternative for players who want a Dark Souls experience without spending too much time or money to get it.
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