Dolmen - PC Preview

Dolmen by developer Massive Work Studio and publisher Prime MatterPC (Steam) preview written by Pierre-Yves with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes 



Right before the holidays I was treated to a first look at Massive Work Studio and Prime Matter’s Soulslike action adventure RPG Dolmen. Traveling to Revion Prime which happens to be the only planet in the Reviam system, you’re basically walking into a mess to discover what happened to the mining operation of Dolmen crystals as you fight off a variety of hostile alien species.

Now, I already mentioned that I was “treated” to a first look at Dolmen as it was indeed a treat. A bit worried that the solid premise could potentially fall flat like that of Hellpoint which is still being worked on, the only thing I can really say above all else is that I need the final version of this as soon as possible. Channeling the spirit of a Soulslike perfectly, Dolmen is a science fiction adventure with swords, axes, laser rifles, pistols and energy shields as you try to stay alive while moving through each environment looking for the way forwards.

For this current version though, we were treated to a catered and more on rails experience. Split between two environments and two bosses, once we finished up the first area we were whisked off to the next with upgraded gear to get a look at what things looked like partway through the adventure. Other than maybe having wanted an upgrade to my “base” chosen classes as I went through a few times only to get my ass handed to me by the second boss… I will defeat him… the flexibility exists in order to go through Dolmen as you see fit.

While technically sporting two core play styles of melee or ranged, there are plenty of options in between with light and heavy weapons as well as dual wielding and guns. Heavy weapons which I started with pack a punch and your enemies won’t last long but they take up more stamina to swing and to use in general. Lighter weapons you’ll get more hits in but wonder why the hell some enemies are not dying. With both of these though, there’s a sub elemental system which allowed us to infuse Fire, Ice or Acid damage into our attacks as long as we had the energy to keep it up.

It’s in the start of these features that Dolmen stands as more than just a futuristic Dark Souls clone. On top of this augmented elemental system, you have three meters to keep an eye on. Health, obviously to keep you alive. Stamina, which is used to swing your weapons around and run fast. Energy which is used for the elemental augments as well as firing your ranged weapons AND healing. Yes, AND healing.

This is where some adaptation really had to be made especially as I restarted and tried the more ranged based classes. Instead of having one time use items or specific healing items, you heal using your stored energy. Taking up a good chunk of your meter, you may depending on your leveling up of stats get one or two heals in but, if you do, then you’ll have a lot less augmented elemental time to work with as well as a lot less energy in order to shoot your enemies from afar. Topping this off, while you do have restockable energy items, they take time to use and you generally don’t have much time to use them once the action gets going.

From here, there are several things that I really enjoyed. First, Dolmen is a single player experience “except” for boss fights. For these, you can not only summon in help but actually respawn the boss to do it all over again. Take that NG+. Second, your gear isn’t useless once you find or create better gear. Instead, you can take created gear and make it better over time with new items and then mixing and matching your sets. Go fashion souls! Lastly, while primarily a console player and the controller functions worked great, on the PC version I was able to play in ultrawide really giving me amazing looks at my environment in 3440x1440 on a RTX 3080. It was gorgeous to look at.

Finally, the last subject to cover and I wonder if more will be done with it is that of death. You’re going to die whether from falling off a ledge, getting spewed magma in the face, getting clawed to death by a super mob which takes a bit of visual squinting to know which one you're about to piss off and the list can go on. Once you die though, you respawn from the last transfer point and get to do it all again and like other Soulslike, only have one chance to make it back to your body to get the currency you picked up. What I’m curious about is that instead of saying you died, and thankfully not you suck, is that it says timeline erased in which it’s almost like it never actually happened and that’s what I’m wondering if anything else will be done with in the final version.

If I had any issues or concerns at this point though it would be that the cinematics would have to be adjusted for an ultrawide resolution either by revamping them or just putting black bars on the side in order to make them look more natural. The other item is that when locked onto a larger enemy like the first boss I couldn’t see its face and because of that couldn’t see what it was about to do from either spewing stuff at me or preparing to launch an unblockable attack. That would need to be fixed. Otherwise while I did hit a difficulty jump, it was expected as it was part of the catered experience but then again, regardless of the class I started with, I had a chainsaw sword that would only make Ash Williams proud.

Summary

Overall though, from just this catered experience, there’s going to be a lot to jump into and discover with Dolmen and I really can’t wait to see the final version once it’s finalized. Thank you again for the first look!

Score: N/A




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