Guide - Updated on September 26, 2022

On the eve of Elden Ring, it seems that astrologers have announced a week of difficult games, so I decided to warm up with the Mortal Shell soullike. In the language of advertising hidden by the adblock: the result was surprising …

It is extremely difficult to explain the main theses in text (at least for me), so I will warn you in advance, there will be many video inserts in the post.

I beg you not to drag me to the fire right away if you liked the game, or you simply do not agree. Firstly, this is exclusively my personal experience, below I will try my best to substantiate my point of view, and secondly, I admit that in a vacuum this game is not so bad

I started recording footage after the fourth or fifth boss in a row (bosses I will consider everyone who has a personal large health bar on the screen) was “heroically” defeated thanks to the use of a single tactic

The same tactics and opponent, “thanks” to which the post appeared

Here begins the problem that drags along with it all the others and its explanation. The thing is, the developers came up with the mechanics, and the mechanics are interesting. Instead of the standard for the Dark Souls series (and other melee-actions) shield, which, as we all know, makes it possible to absorb damage from opponents, the character has the ability to petrify, which has the same function and a certain cooldown, but is knocked down as soon as you have been dealt one strong blow or a couple of weak ones.

Ability in its generic sense

And it would seem, well, they changed the animation of the block (without changing the essence), and what’s terrible here, BUT to add variety to the gameplay, the possibility of petrification was added when performing absolutely any action, and one of these actions is (this is where the essence of the problem begins ) swing for a follow-up strike, which turns into a direct strike after receiving damage from the enemy.

What does it actually look like

And in this particular variant, from the form “closer to the block”, the petrification, goes into the form “closer to the parry”

How it works

Damage does not pass through the character during a hit => The enemy either becomes stunned from hitting a hard surface, or can pass through the character without causing damage => a window for hitting opens => since most of the swing animation has already passed, the window allows strike back with lightning speed and in most cases

Another hit, dealing heavy damage.

The essence of the above scheme is clearly

But, in addition to the advantages described above, the parry (both in souls and, in fact, in real life) has one drawback – it must be performed clearly in the timing of the attack, using all your reaction and knowledge about the enemy. In the case of the above option, this factor, which makes the mechanics interesting and skillful, is completely annihilated. You can get into a stance that combines defense and attack in an amazing way, hit the enemy with it, do a somersault back, wait until the cooldown of the petrification passes, get back into a completely safe stance and attack a defenseless opponent as soon as he recklessly decides the hero to attack, repeat until victory.

This is how you can defeat any opponent (with one exception)

It can be argued that this is how the block works, you absorb damage in a defensive stance, and then strike back, but in the projects of the same from software, when you are standing in a block, your opponent can use magic that doesn’t care about shields, knock down with one blow on shield all the stamina, and introduce the hero into the camp, carry out an attack from above or below, then at least close the door from the armored train, this will not save you, willy-nilly, you need to come up with an alternative way out of the situation, and petrification in Mortal Shell gives a full guarantee of protection and windows for counterattacks.

The game does not punish the hero in any way for abusing such a simple and safe tactic. Opponents with the look of “what are you stupid” do not start escaping their attacks or waiting for the player to open up, for an unnecessarily long downtime in defense there are no penalties such as removing hp or stamina.

Some enemies, of course, try to resist the imbalance, but not very successfully.

The enemy tries to fight injustice, but nothing works

In training, in the second or third minute, they immediately tell you – look what a cool scheme – use it and after 5-6 hours you will bend everyone here and you will admire the titles

The most interesting thing is that the game has a parry in its classic sense, and you need to know three things about it

• It is held by Ilyich’s lamp

• Looks epic and just amazing

• Too unsafe for active use when there is petrification

Reflection and counterattack really look amazing

“Superblows” by the way, too

Parrying also does good damage, and at this point I can be objected, well, then don’t use the imb strat – here you were given a more interesting technique, but, firstly, some movesets of some enemies are specially tailored for the use of petrification, because. it is a unique element of the product, and secondly, the narrative still turns out to be completely broken, which is especially depressing. In DS and many of its imitators, the high difficulty and dark setting (which here, with the exception of the location design, is executed simply superbly) work in synergy, plunging you into an atmosphere of powerlessness and depression, forcing you to defeat not only the ass-busting bosses, but also your own apathy, look for an approach to enemies, to identify their weak points, so that in your head this world becomes less incomprehensible, and therefore safer.

In the case of Mortal Shell, this bundle completely stops working, even if you artificially limit yourself, you almost from the start know the weak point of almost every enemy you meet on the way. You don’t have to deconstruct it in your mind to win.

Learning lore through objects is an integral part of understanding the world in soulslicks, they even came up with a separate mechanic related to this. The item must be used to learn basic information about it, and with repeated use, it will pile up a little more history for you. As an idea, it sounds great, but a lot of the motivation for learning is lost. Why do this if from the first hours you are still the head of this rocking chair and you don’t need new knowledge so that the brain stops giving such clear signals of danger? Each boss, and even a simple mob, after dozens of interesting fights, became a person about whom I wanted to know more, but here they are treated more like points on a map.

By the way, it’s important to sink in, I’m not trying to call the game a cakewalk for casuals now. Enemies are hard hitting and quite fat, a collision with three or more locals almost guarantees death. Enemies, as in the progenitor of the genre, are constantly placed behind the camera’s view to give them a chance to strike, but accidental deaths by negligence will not bring any depression, because you know well what to do and from the nearest fire you will already be sure that move further and this feeling will not be deceptive at all, and in general, mobs that can attack quietly or in a pack are easier to run here, because there are catastrophically few local souls from them, and there is no pumping in the game in its classical sense, so spending them is also very special nowhere. There will undoubtedly be deaths on bosses, but they do not force you to change approaches and tactics.

The only enemy capable of destroying the “winning meta” is the boss of the second (icy) location, he has several moves that can counter the previously stated winning tactics and after defeating him, I got a kind of “souls moment”, a slight feeling that you managed to outwit and punish the asshole, who is initially in a more advantageous position, and this makes it even more offensive, because the developers knew what to do, but for some reason they deprived the players of hardcore joys

Ice boy is my hero

Even the last boss, the only non-anthropomorph, fell victim to a three-move combination, although his appearance and attacks promised an interesting fight.

It looks bewitchingly beautiful, but the gameplay, of course, questions

Even the trick with the crowd is shattered by petrification

In addition to everything, either due to tight deadlines, or due to hardware restrictions, the developers have made the locations so monotonous that you can get lost even in the rectum, where there are no particular turns, and in addition to losing the practical function that the environment plays, it has disappeared and the narrative component of exploring the world through the environment around you, and the lack of clothes, rings and other semi-cosmetic elements in the game only continues to push you to the good old wounds from boss to boss.

Even in weak soul-likes like lords of the fallen in my opinion, as well as in 2D followers of DARK SOULS like Blasphemous, the combat and the world are deeper (I won’t even compare with the original games from Fromes). That is why I have developed an attitude expressed in the title to, at first glance, a very worthy representative of the genre.

And in the end, it turned out that I spent time in the most soulless souls (sorry for the pun) that I saw, although it is noticeable that the developers tried to make the game lamp-like not only in the form of a parry device. Here, the local fire keeper dances to the gash of the character on the lute and you can pet the cat,

And I may not have noticed something at all, because I preferred to run through the locations

This gives hope that the next project of the studio will be more conscious, and will not resemble Instagram accounts with a beautiful shell, but empty inside, which talk so much about this awareness.

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