To Use or Not To Use – Mortal Shell’s Boundary-Less Photo Mode

Open exploration or cheating - you decide

Source: Author.

Developed by Cold Symmetry, Mortal Shell is a brilliant love letter to FromSoftware's Soulsborne titles. In my journey through this bleak yet charming world, I found that the photo mode has no boundary - which could allow players to explore ahead with no risk or penalty.

Extremely minor spoilers ahead, in the form of screenshots of settings

I hadn't noticed this function until I was roughly 3/4 through the game while exploring one of the "temples". The setting was so jarring yet beautiful, truly making you feel like an insignificant trespasser in an alien land. I wanted to capture that scope, that gravity, so I opened up photo mode and started zooming out. And I kept going and going and going. AND GOING. I started chuckling, thinking I had glitched the game somehow.

I'm the barely visible silhouette in the center. This isn't near as far as you can go. Source: Author.

I snapped my shot and moved on. Soon after, an enemy hiding around a corner ambushed me - as often happens in Mortal Shell - and again a minute later. A devilish thought then struck me.

"Let's see if I can look around the next corner in photo mode"

So I did and found my next encounter hiding as expected. I kept floating forward, feeling like a spirit exploring a world frozen in time. Then I moved straight up into the sky and got the birds-eye view, taking in the lay of the land. This function was no bug. I could fly around this frozen world forever. The lack of boundary was definitely intentional, and I was NOT using it as I imagine the developers intended it to be used.

I imagine the devs wanted it to be used to capture the serenity of jamming out with bandits, busting out absurdly tasty riffs. Source: Author.

Feeling like I just accidentally became an omnipotent god, I couldn't help but revel in my newfangled ability for the next hour or so of gameplay. I foiled many an ambush, and plotted my routes rather than relying on pure reaction and whim. After that hour, a feeling washed over me. Or rather, a feeling ebbed away from me. I was having way less fun.

The surprise, mystery, and adrenaline were quickly dissolving at the hands of my newfound power. Every triumph now felt hollow. Each victory now a shadow of its former glory.

Just as this landscape is a shadow of its former... wait... where the hell am I? Source: Author.

I stopped abusing the photo mode for nefarious purposes, cold turkey. My skeletal avatar trudged forward as the game intends - slowly and steadily, conquering the bleak and otherworldly obstacles ahead. And as I journeyed on again, satisfaction and fun returned in spades. Play how you will, but this was the experience I found most rewarding.


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