Mortal Shell offers the same type of thrills that you can find in a Dark Souls game, with weighty combat and a difficulty high enough to make your average player scream. The shells are there to offer you some options when it comes to protecting yourself.
However, if you’re a player that cannot start a game without committing to collecting all trophies or achievements, then the Forever Alone task, which asks you to complete the entire game without ever bonding to one of those shells, might make you think twice.
Why does it pose such a challenge? As a character without a shell, you will die to a single hit from any enemy in the game. Even if you are just hit by one of the large frogs near the river in Fallgrim, you will die. There are no upgrades that you can acquire, and glimpses are redundant as, in lore terms, they are used by the shells to remember echoes of their past.
The only advantage that you hold as a shell-less creature is that you have almost limitless stamina, and you have a fair level of resolve, second only to the Solomon shell. In every other instance, the game will be tougher. We would strongly recommend that you complete a standard playthrough first.
Fear not though, as there are some ways to make flowing through the game as painless as possible. Here are our tips to help you complete the Forever Alone trophy/achievement.
Combine it with the secret Life is Suffering achievement
If your reason for completing the game without a shell is to offer a bigger challenge, or you are playing the Epic Games Store version of the game on PC, then you can skip this tip.
The Life is Suffering achievement asks you to complete the game in the Dark Obsidian form, a tar-covered version of the character that you start with. For those set on a Platinum trophy or 1000 gamerscore, combining your playthrough with the Life is Suffering task will kill two birds with one stone and offer you a helpful combat aid.
To activate this achievement, head down to the river area of Fallgrim, on the right as you exit the starting area, and follow it around to the left. You will encounter some resistance, so make sure you dispatch any enemies or create enough space to sprint past them. If you meet a giant frog you can talk to, you’re heading in the right direction. Just past him, you will see an embankment that you can walk up, and along the wall is a cave blocked by tree bark. Cut this down and enter it.
In this cave, you will find a shrine that will ask you to renounce your humanity, remove any shells that you may have collected up to this point, and progress you have made with upgrading them. For combining both achievements, you can still activate the shrine even without having bonded with a shell.
Complete this, and you will enter the Dark Obsidian form for the rest of the game. This doesn’t grant you any stat improvements, but it will grant you the skill that will create an area of effect attack if you use harden while in the air and crash land on the ground. This can help you immensely as you make your way through the dungeons to pile on damage, and it will allow you to complete both achievements at the same time.
Run through if you can
One big difference between Mortal Shell and Dark Souls is that in the latter, once you have taken the attention of an enemy (or “aggro” them), they will continue to pursue you until one of you is dead. In Mortal Shell, almost every monster has an area of aggro, where you will take their attention up to a certain position from where they start or patrol. This means that if you encounter an enemy that you would rather avoid, they will simply head back to their spawn position if you run far away enough from the vicinity.
This also applies to enemies inside of the game’s dungeon instances. If you run past mobs fast enough, they will eventually walk back to their spawn position. When it comes to getting through the dungeons, this will be your best way to make progress.
You shouldn’t skip the entirety of the dungeon and head straight to the bosses in every instance. While dungeons are filled with a lot of tough enemies, there are areas where chests filled with extremely useful items reside. These include Quenching Acid, the main component for weapon upgrades, and scrolls to help you through unavoidable combat situations.
However, for the most part, not engaging where possible is the best way to make progress. Most of the enemies are skippable, which will save you time in your achievement hunt, but planning your route is essential, and you will be required to take on bosses and most of the game’s mini-boss fights.
Head to the Eternal Nathrex first
If you’ve played through the game once already, you will know where the Eternal Nathrex is and what to expect. It’s the dungeon that sees you enter an enormous palace-like structure before traversing over hulking tar blocks floating in the sky. It’s the biggest of the three dungeons and will see you take on Crucix, The Twiceborn in the Shifting Archives. If you are not sure where it is, seeing the vision of Eredrím will help you with its location.
It’s possibly the most challenging of the dungeons due to its mobs’ strength and the size of the place. It’s huge but also cramped as you progress onto the floating blocks with less room to maneuver yourself around the enemies.
But getting the most challenging dungeon out of the way first is not the main reason to go there first. Unlocking the Hammer and Chisel and securing its upgrades is why you will want to head here first.
While it’s not going to be everyone’s weapon of choice, the Hammer and Chisel is by far the most agile weapon in the set. You can throw attacks with it very quickly, meaning the window for dodges is much larger than with any of the other weapons. It suits a character who has high stamina, making the shell-less the absolute best with it in hand.
It also possesses one of the best abilities in the game that see you burst forward and launch a flurry of blades as you leap into the air. It’s a devastating area of effect attack, and an excellent last-ditch option if you find yourself surrounded. All of this is supported with damage that is still comparable with the other weapons once maxed out.
The Hammer and Chisel weapon is located inside the entrance to the Eternal Nathrex, so you can simply earn the weapon from Hadern and leave to another if you want to, but as the items to unlock the weapon ability are here, the smartest approach is to simply complete this instance first.
Master rolling and hardening or die trying
Dodging enemy attacks in Mortal Shell is actually fairly easy. The dodge and roll will give you enough frames of invulnerability to never take a hit when done correctly. Mastering using it is one of the keys to avoiding taking any hits throughout your playthrough. Rolling is especially important as this will give you enough distance to avoid any follow-up attacks from most enemies.
Not every area will be conducive to combat rolling circles around everything, especially in the Shifting Archives, where the platforms are narrow and falling off will mean death. It’s also not always easy to time a roll if you’re in mid-swing of a weapon as it will need to finish first. This is another reason why the Hammer and Chisel can work most favorably in this run.
Similarly, hardening is easily one of the best mechanics in the game, as it can take you from a compromising position against a foe to going on the offensive. It’s a lifesaver, but it needs to be used in conjunction with dodging as enemies striking you while petrified will only stumble for a moment. If you have the Dark Obsidian form, it can also offer a world of pain for the monsters targetting you.
Bringing these two elements together will help you to survive. If you don’t have access to the Balistazooka, some sections of the game will be impossible without getting the timing of your rolling and hardening correct, so it’s recommended that you have this nailed as you progress.
You can ignore glimpses, but you should still collect tar
Speaking of the game’s vendor, he can be easy to miss if you don’t search for him. He is located outside of Fallgrim Tower if you follow the building around to the left from the upper floor. For a playthrough like this, where you will need all the help you can get, some of the vendor’s items are essential.
This is where your tar collecting comes in use. You don’t need glimpses at all. When you pick them up, they will simply disappear as there is no shell to bind them to. But all of the wares that the vendor has is paid for in tar.
All items on the vendor’s inventory are useful, including scrolls and bells to increase your tar rewards from kills. The two main items that you will be wanting are the two Quenching Acids and the tools. Both are expensive, with the acids coming in at 2,500 souls each, and the tool kit a whopping 8,000. However, they will make your game immeasurably easier as the acids will provide two power boosts to your weapon damage, while the tool kit will repair your Balistazooka.
While it’s limited by the number of large bolts that you have collected, the game’s ranged weapon packs a big punch and will be useful in many areas in each dungeon. Use it sparingly, and combine it with the other tips here, and you should be able to make it through your run with minimal deaths and move closer to that 100% completion.