Dolmen Analysis. Space sci-fi is punctuated by hard-hitting combat in a failed Souls replacement
If you want me to try out a video game, there are a number of words that will fall at your feet as soon as you say them. A mixture of Dark Souls and Dead Space it’s such an attraction my eyes can’t look away, so Dolmen managed to do what is often the hardest thing: get my attention.
Under the auspices of Koch Media’s Prime Matter, Massive Work Studio has sculpted a sci-fi world where violence and gore are the order of the day. In truth, when searching for FromSoftware’s winning formula, the developer failed to find the right keys.
Welcome to Revision Prime
Almost without eating or drinking it and with a short cinematic, we are transported to the planet Revion Prime, located in a solar system colonized by mankind. Genetic manipulation has become the primary tool to adapt to the extreme conditions of space.
However, everything went straight to hell after the possibility of interdimensional travel was discovered. The Vahani alien race is responsible for the chaos happening in the area and we must put an end to the chaos. Easy task to say, more complicated to execute.
And it so happens that Revion Prime is absolutely infested with creatures from hell. Futuristic technology has yielded to beings who do not seek beyond their hunger and desire for destruction. There is a particular fixation on the emergence of xenospecies associated with the world of insects, which is reflected not only in their forms but also in the habitats they inhabit.
Therefore, the scenarios express what is happening in each area. Creepy experimental laboratories, greenhouses from God knows which region of the galaxy or cybernetic towers beyond our imagination. In each of them we can see the theme of the place, all accompanied by a striking visual section that bets a lot on the contrast of bold and darker lights, all with Unreal Engine.
Also, you step on more corpses than tiles in dolmens. The entire game is littered with dismembered bodies hanging from the walls and lying on the floor. It’s not disturbing at all, but it’s another touch trying to approximate an atmosphere of terror. Of course, at no time is the tension cut off in the area about what lies on the other side of the corner. Quite far from the fear breathed in the USG Ishimura.
Arm yourself, knights of the future
It doesn’t matter that we’re several hundred years in the future, because the method of combat is old school. As a good distant cousin of the Soulsborne, we have to split aliens with all sorts of sharp tools. Swords, axes, claws, batons and even chainsaws are among our working tools, so there is no shortage of options when it comes to distributing firewood.
During the game we can visit our spaceship, which can be accessed through different beacons that are scattered around the map and that act like the classic bonfires. In the safety of our sanctuary we can begin to shape the warrior we wish to be. A machine allows us to create everything we need through resources and parts left by enemies.
Do we need a sword bigger than us? There it is. Do I like to walk behind a sign? We have it in our hands immediately. In the same way we can get the pieces of armor that suit us best, so customization will be the order of the day. In addition, it can be further enhanced with materials that enhance its virtues. Of course, we won’t always be able to use everything we build, since we have to pay attention to the attributes.
Everything we’ll be carrying will require our skill points to be up to the task, so it’s possible that some claws can only be used with five skill points and eight energy. To make sure that we don’t slip in this section, right in front of the creation engine we have another one that will allow us to distribute the points obtained in our statistics.
Eye, there’s a lot more to consider. Passive buffs appear thanks to Human, Revian, or Driller techs. Each piece of armor or weapon that we use improves several points of the same, increasing our recovery capacity or increasing attack speed.
Battles in slow motion
Once we have the theory clear, we need to start putting it into practice. And this is where we begin to take the first setbacks. Dolmen is a slow game where every action is performed as if we had enabled YouTube’s x0.5. Hits take a long time to land, leading to a core problem.
And it is that the title registers and performs every action corresponding to the button we press. For example, if you double-tap R1 for two quick hits, land the first, and get interrupted by an enemy attack on the second, your character will hit a second time once he’s reassembled. This complicates the fights too much, since we have to be very aware of how many times we’ve really pressed a button to avoid finding ourselves in this situation.
To all this we must add lightness when facing the battles. Three spiders from the underworld against one is more intimidating than the boss on duty who is eight feet tall. It’s awfully easy to take down the toughest of enemies, as the strategy boils down to staying as close to them as possible and turning.
Own dodges are infallible and most bosses don’t have side attacks to ruin our strategy. I’ve spent some of them just circling around them, attacking when the stamina bar allows, and knocking them down. As long as they don’t magically get stuck in a corner and can’t move.
At that moment, the remote-controlled weapon goes into action. Yes, we have a rifle, shotgun or pistol to defend ourselves, just like we could in other replacement games of the likes of Remnant: From the Ashes or Lords of the Fallen. In fact, we can infuse any of them with acid, fire, or ice energy, which can also be transferred to our body.
With a single button we activate a mode in which our attacks have elemental effects as long as the energy bar remains full. Therefore, we can inflict altered conditions on enemies that affect them more or less depending on their weaknesses.
More striking is the involvement of the stage in the dynamics of dolmens. There are certain elements that we can find from time to time, like giant balls of energy, that play a crucial role in the fight. Some steal life and others drain energy from us, so it’s important to use them in our favor while they don’t stop circling the area.
Dolmen lasted about 10 hours of play and the truth is that I don’t even feel like it’s a good replacement for Soulsborne. The enemies’ AI is so poorly balanced that the challenge is tight, their multiplayer section shines due to the lack of players (in the absence of the official launch) and the set feels too corridor.
During my game on PS5 it worked at a great technical level, without any problems and with good stability. But to Caesar what is Caesar’s. I really enjoyed its spectacular soundtrack, especially the great song about fighting Tharvus Kheep, and it didn’t stop playing while I was writing this review.
RRP on Steam €39.99 RRP on PlayStation Store €39.99 RRP on Microsoft Store €39.99
Platforms PS5 (reviewed), PS4, Xbox Series, Xbox One, and PC Multiplayer Yes Developer Massive Work Studio Company Prime Matter Release May 20, 2021
- A soundtrack that breathes synthwave
- Attractive visuals and hostile design
- Boss fights are a breeze
- It’s not convincing as a replacement for the Soulsborne
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