PREVIEW – Dolmen is a true action RPG inspired by the classic Dark Souls series, like many other similar titles. What makes this game a little different, though, is the Lovecraftian inspiration, which gives a more exciting flavour to the traditional sci-fi/horror genre while offering us a diverse environment and landscapes than usual.
Dark Souls, Dead Space, The Surge: these are the names that came to mind when we tried the game on PC, with a preview beta test. Given the popularity of From Software, Visceral Games and the legends of Deck13, we can only hope that this title from Massive Work Studio will step up to the plate and deliver a truly immersive experience. Having had the chance to preview the game in a preview, we give you our thoughts below.
The monsters in the mine are on the rampage
After a brief introduction to the beginning of the Dolmen game’s story, our character is teleported to Revion Prime: a mining station that has been under a ferocious attack by mysterious creatures. The first glimpse of the station reveals the dilapidated state of the place. However, if the creatures and the location may be slightly reminiscent of Dead Space, the track design is more souls-like. That’s why the horror atmosphere that is initially conveyed is actually less tangible so that the comparison with Dead Space soon evaporates.
After a short tutorial, fans of the genre will soon feel at home, as the basic game mechanics are pretty similar to classic souls-like games. At least the one slight difference is that we’ve been given an energy meter. We can use it to heal ourselves, use ranged weapons, or activate a temporary mode that allows us to boost our attacks by infusing them with elemental energy. These attributes will enable you to wound or weaken enemies with secondary effects that can slow them down or poison them, for example.
There is still a lot to fix…
So far, the somewhat amateurish gameplay experience is a bit of a barrier, but I would still say that if they continue to develop the Dolmen game, it could be a good one because the game mechanics are well thought out. The different equipment we were able to try out shows that weapons and specialisations systems offer varied and enjoyable gameplay. The alchemy between melee and ranged combat also works well. The energy meter levels mean that you can’t spam ranged attacks. There are, however, some minor and major flaws.
For example, some animations are stiff and sometimes awkward during fights. Potions are also frustrating to use because the time to use them is too long and cumbersome, which is especially problematic if you need to heal yourself urgently. Finally, the visual representation of shield use is not instantaneous, making it counter-intuitive. In short: the player’s defensive options have quite a few challenges (to put it mildly) that would be nice to fix.
Vision, story and pathfinding – what about these?
Let’s take a look at the visuals of the Dolmen game. From what we’ve seen of the game so far, the sci-fi inspiration is undoubtedly apparent, but it’s hard to see Dolmen as being truly unique. The creatures seen in the two different “zones” didn’t exactly impress with their presentation, and while the graphics aren’t ugly, they won’t impress visually either.
As for the story, the beta in Dolmen didn’t tell us very much about it. The game’s protagonist is a space explorer, but we also meet some other characters who I don’t want to spoil for you just yet. The protagonist’s ship, which serves as the game’s central hub, also hosted a character. Let’s hope that the storytelling will be more emphatic than what we’ve seen because not much has been revealed from these few transitions and dialogues.
And as for the maps, we only got to explore a small part of Discover a Dolmen in the beta, which consisted of three different parts of the game. The first map is closed and labyrinthine, while the second is open, with slightly different gameplay mechanics. However, it is difficult to make a proper judgement after only three hours of play, but, indeed, this small part of the game will later be transformed into a much larger universe in the entire game.
Finally, we cannot ignore the very bland and uncharacteristic HUD and the presence of a few bugs or design flaws. Whether the developers will fix these bugs remains to be seen, as there is still plenty of time for a complete overhaul before the release date. For example, it would be nice to completely overhaul the inventory and crafting interface, which are still pretty clumsy.