I’m glad that Mortal Shell has been enhanced for next-gen consoles.
When I first played Mortal Shell for review last year on Xbox One, it left me a little bit cold. I loved its dark fantasy world, but various issues meant I failed to really get invested in it. When I heard that it was getting enhanced for PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, however, I was keen to give it another go. With a bit of polish since launch thanks to numerous patches, enhanced visuals and 60fps, maybe my opinion of it would change.
And I’m glad to report that it has. Revisiting the world of Mortal Shell via this new enhanced edition has been a mostly pleasurable experience. Or more specifically, playing the PS5 version of Mortal Shell. You see, one of the enhancements that has really made a difference is haptic feedback, something that Xbox Series X/S players will miss out on.
The core of Mortal Shell: Enhanced Edition remains the same. There’s been no sweeping changes to the gameplay or content, but little tweaks here and there since the game’s original launch means playing it now is a little more enjoyable. If you head to the Crypt of the Martyr’s, one of the game’s three temples that you need to conquer to complete it, for example, you’ll find that you can now leave it if you decide it’s perhaps a little too challenging for you. When I last played it, I went there first and got stuck. Cue many attempts to beat its pesky boss after arduously making my way past its enemy hordes.
Many issues still remain though. Its labyrinthine hub is still perhaps too easy to get lost in, its combat is still mechanically a step below the likes of Dark Souls, and enemy placement can feel a bit forced at times. But none of these issues break the experience. In fact, thanks to the numerous improvements made in this enhanced edition, they’re easier to look past then ever.
For a start, there are the visuals. Mortal Shell: Enhanced Edition simply looks stunning. Textures have been improved, making each and every environment you battle through more detailed and lifelike than ever. And then there are the suits of armour, unique to each of the game’s four shells that you can inhabit. Each is exquisite, especially Eredrim’s which is particularly grand. Alongside dramatically improved lighting, Mortal Shell: Enhanced Edition is truly sight to behold. Visuals don’t make a game, sure, but when they’re as good as this, they certainly help draw you in.
DualSense implementation is another feature that has no mechanical effect on the game, yet elevates it to the next level. Whispers play through the controller’s speaker, putting you at unease as you explore. Other sounds play through the speaker too, beautifully crisp and clear. On top of that you have haptic feedback, making you feel sensations like arrows ricocheting off your armour or zooming past you. The icing on the cake is the use of the adaptive triggers. Run out of stamina and the right trigger will lock up, forcibly stopping you from attempting to make a another swing. It’s a little thing, yet it makes quite the difference in the heat of battle.
Hands-down the best thing about Mortal Shell: Enhanced Edition, however, is the improved frame rate. At 60fps, it’s simply much more responsive, and that makes a lot of difference in a game like this. It allows you to be more reactive to your enemy’s actions, and simply makes your own action feel more natural. You basically have a better connection to what’s happening on-screen, further immersing you in the brutal action. Just be aware that if you’re planning to play on Xbox Series S, the frame rate is unfortunately capped at 30fps.
For those who already own Mortal Shell on either Xbox One or PS4, this enhanced edition arrives as a free update or upgrade path, and it’s a very good reason to return to it. For those who haven’t yet journeyed into its grim world, however, there’s never been a better time, especially on PS5. This isn’t simply Mortal Shell with the resolution and framerate uncapped; the visuals have been dramatically improved while still ensuring a consistent 60fps experience, and DualSense support has been implemented with care. With Mortal Shell: Enhanced Edition, developer Cold Symmetry has really given its game a chance to shine.
Mortal Shell: Enhanced Edition Review: GameSpew’s Score