December PS+ Freebies: Mortal Shell, LEGO DC … Part of Godfall?
Throughout the year, Sony seems to have viewed the release of the PS5 as a transition point for their PS+ program, ensuring that there has been a mixture of both a shiny new PS5 game and a unique pair of PS4 games with each month. The quality of the games has wavered, for sure, but when compared to the base subscription service of their competitor, they’ve sustained the reputation since the release of the new consoles.
December continues this, but in a clumsy fashion. The two PS4 games are arguably more satisfying than other months, containing both a successful family-friendly action game and a layered action-RPG for the more intense gamers. The PS5 title is … a portion of a game? A booster? It’s several things at once without being the full experience of the title it’s representing, ending 2021 on an awkward note for the Plus service. Let’s look closer at all the titles, but before doing so, be sure to head over and Grab a 1-Year PlayStation Plus subscription from Amazon.
Godfall: Challenger Edition
So, what exactly is the “Challenger Edition” of the action-RPG Godfall? After checking around a bit, you’ll discover that this version of Gearbox’s game offers a catch-me-up experience that drops the players into “endgame-level content”, and in turn powers up the player accordingly. From there, the player engages in a trio of challenge modes that flex the maximum of what Gearbox wants to accomplish with their intense gameplay, where adept player characters – solo or in co-op groups with up to 2 others – can be customized and power through with what’s described as “looter slasher” game design. Essentially, the Challenger Edition jumps ahead of all the grinding and gets the player to the good stuff, then gives them lots of fun trials and tribulations with this newfound power.
What’s missing, however, is the entirety of the campaign of Godfall, which makes this a complicated inclusion for the PlayStation Plus program as its PS5 title. For those who are interested, the Challenger Edition can seamlessly integrate with the preexisting version of the base title, or the rest of the campaign can be purchased later as an add-on. That’s the thing, though: the base game itself simply doesn’t come with this iteration, and considering the state of the game itself – it received middling reviews from critics, harsher impressions from gamers, and can be purchased for $20 – it seems much wiser to include the whole package and spark some positive word of mouth and goodwill instead of providing additional hoops to gamers. The Challenger Edition is a budget title otherwise at $15.
LEGO DC Super-Villains
By now, most people – not just gamers, but people in general – know what to expect from one of the LEGO video games. While uncomplicated, the third-person action controls are merely there so players of all ages can gain control of toy iterations of their favorite characters, interact with a block-built versions of the worlds in which those characters live and work their way through exaggerated spins on their familiar stories (usually popular movies). Since their rise in popularity, however, there have been new movies made about the LEGO versions of the characters featuring unique stories, which has snowballed into unique games that don’t rely on those familiar stories to push them forward. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does, but rarely are the games simply unfun to play … especially those from DC and Marvel wing of the work done by Traveller’s Tales.
LEGO DC Super-Villains takes all that to another level, allowing the player to create and customize their own super-villain who powers through levels and bumps into the familiar faces of the DC Rogues Gallery. Instead of getting involved with a “bad guy” plot, however, the villains are forced to take the place of the Justice League and fight against villains from a parallel universe: the Justice Syndicate (aka Crime Syndicate of America), evil counterparts of the Justice League characters from another Earth. As the story progresses, the player’s customized character develops their attributes and eventually gains access to superpowers, the most novel aspect of this LEGO title beyond the gameplay’s pillars of a wide roster of other playable characters, exaggerated environments, and vibrant sense of humor.
Sometimes, it can seem unfair to compare one game’s style to another or label it a clone, something that’s fairly common in the arena of third-person action-RPGs. Cold Symmetry doesn’t shy away from those comparisons, though, as they’re happy to prop Mortal Shell up as a “soulslike” game that’s heavily inspired by the Dark Souls franchise. Designed as a pint-sized indie version to scratch the itch in a period when there weren’t any other uncompromising, aesthetically and emotionally grim dungeon crawlers out there, it showcases many evident similarities to the design of the Souls franchise and many areas where they obviously tweaked aspects for specific effects.
Players gain control of an “empty shell” of a character who roams the landscape of a world in the aftermath of humanity’s collapse, and in that collapse they encounter the bodies of the fallen, who provide different shells that the player can occupy and embrace their skillsets. The environment looks and feels like an extension of those from the creations of FromSoftware: shadowed yet stunning, grim with glimmers of possibility, and full of obstacles. Through it, the player engages a layered, weighed third-person combat scheme and intuitive RPG skillsets, and it all gains even more respect when taking the studio’s small size into consideration. Mortal Shell certainly isn’t perfect in the eyes of either critics or players, with some not seeing enough difference or longevity inside, but most view it as an admirable and engaging soulslike crawler.