A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
The action clearly glamorizes medieval-style melee combat, but also rewards players who show patience, perseverance, and tactical savvy.
Positive Role Models
The player's character hasn't got much of a personality, striving simply to push forward and attack enemies. He shows no remorse as he dispatches his foes.
Ease of Play
This is a very challenging game. Success requires investing time to learn complex play mechanics, becoming deeply familiar with enemy movements so you can adjust your timing, and working out how to take advantage of each shell's special abilities. Failure comes often, and may prove frustrating for some players.
Violence & Scariness
Players use blunt and bladed weapons to hack, chop, and bludgeon humanoid enemies. Foes bleed from their wounds, moan, and fall when killed, blood pooling on the ground.
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Products & Purchases
This is the first downloadable content (DLC) pack for 2020's Mortal Shell.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Mortal Shell: The Virtuous Cycle is a paid expansion to Mortal Shell, a fantasy action-RPG (role-playing game) available for download on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Windows PCs. Players take on the role of a creature known as the Foundling who uses the shells of defeated warriors to fight a variety of enemies using medieval-style melee weapons to viciously hack at and bludgeon them. Foes bleed red blood, moan, and collapse to the ground as they are injured and killed. The expansion doesn't add much to the game's already sparse and cryptic narrative, but instead gives players a new shell, a new weapon, and a new mode designed to provide players with endlessly changing adventures so they can continue enjoying the game's punishingly hard combat long after they finish the campaign. The game's great difficulty is the true test here, challenging players to derive satisfaction from practice and perseverance.
Is It Any Good?
Though the new mode is available to newcomers pretty much from the get-go, this DLC (downloadable content) is clearly meant for the game's faithful fans. Mortal Shell: The Virtuous Cycle is all about providing people who loved the base campaign a way to play that keeps things fresh and interesting while providing an even more difficult challenge. Enemies aren't just randomized, they're also more numerous -- and, in some cases, tougher to deal with. This is especially true when forced to use arbitrary abilities you may not be familiar with -- a smart way to encourage players to try elements of the game they may have previously skipped. And since death forces a restart, the chances of blowing through the Virtuous Cycle quickly are low. Every battle is a high stakes fight, and progressing further than you previously managed feels like a reward unto itself.
It's a shame, though, that players are only given one new shell and one new weapon. Both are well-conceived and executed. They feel great and challenge players to master their intricacies through practice and upgrades. However, action-RPG (role-playing game) players tend to expect a wealth of weapons, gear, and characters from which to choose. That this DLC provides just a couple of new bits in this regard feels like a missed opportunity, especially since the base game offers only a handful to begin with. That said, the real treasure here is the new randomized play mode, which could potentially expand the game's life by dozens of hours for true devotees. Players who ached for a good reason to keep playing and enjoying the game's excellent combat should receive all the motivation they need in Mortal Shell: The Virtuous Cycle.
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