Dolmen in the test: Dear Elden Ring!
With Dolmen, a team from Brazil is preparing to offer soul-like fans for fans of dark science fiction. Despite good ideas, the title cannot convince.
- genetretypical storytelling
- ballers allowed, but in moderation
- The outfit is crucial
- bosse can massive work,…
- … loot less
- If you are knocked off from the alien gang again
- the menus of horror
The Soulsborne games of From software and most imitators rely on dark fantasy scenarios. So far, developers have so far combined the recipe with other settings. So far, we have only received soul-likes with a sci-fi painting from the German Studio Deck13 in good quality. This did a real work with the two “The Surge” games. Now another candidate appears with Dolmen, who is playfully oriented towards Dark Souls and Co, but artistically takes his own way. It’s just stupid that developers will miss massive work studio with the basics of a good soul-like.
You have to admit that the genre of the Souls-Likes does not have much to offer for the player type, which primarily wants to experience strong stories. Sure, the lore of every Fromsoftware title is cool, but a rousing plot does not tell Dark Souls, no Bloodborne and also no Elden ring. The competition doesn’t make it any better. It seems to be a tradition and accordingly Dolmen sticks to it. The game puts yourself on the planet Revion Prime, more precisely in a mining station. There, crystals are broken down that can combine several realities and give the game its name. Hell broke out in the station. Monster and humanoids, aggressive aliens have spread there. You should contain the crisis and procure crystals.
All of this is as unexciting as it sounds. Dolmen also tells his story as passively as most other Souls-Likes. Every now and then someone speaks to you by radio, otherwise there are only tons of terminals where you can read short texts. This has the advantage that you can ignore the story wonderfully, but a more interesting action would have been more desirable. Now Dolmen could have compensated with a dense atmosphere, but neither the game has a special soundscape in some form nor left the environments a sustainable impression. You not only run through generic corridors, but are also on the road in areas that look very strange with large organic structures, but due to the lack of details and the generally weak graphic, it is not possible to do it, purely with its kind of design in the Bann to pull.
Speaking of graphics: We played the PS5 version in which you can choose between a performance and quality mode. The former offers stable 60 frames per second, the latter is limited to a maximum of 30 fps. There is a higher resolution and ray tracing effects. Sounds cool at first, but the nice reflections and the slightly sharper picture have their price: depending on our feeling, dolmen in quality mode on PlayStation 5 rarely reaches 30 frames per second and in fighting when various small particles fly through the picture, the image rate goes noticeably down. A soul-like is simply not playable. Apart from that, Dolmen does not become a particularly pretty game with raytracing. The models of the figures are not detailed and their animations are not supple enough and the environments and some effects even remind of PS3 times.
ballers allowed, but in moderation
If the only major weaknesses of dolmen were a story, staging and technology, we would still make a purchase recommendation for genre fans. After all, you have to keep in mind that Massive Work Studio is a small team and dolmen is his first larger PC and console title. In addition, the budget should have been relatively low. You can’t expect a graphic miracle. Besides, it’s not like doing everything wrong. There are good ideas in dolmen. On the one hand, we find it cool that you can not only use different types of melee, but also firearms. For example, there are pistols, rifles and shotguns, thanks to the sci-fi setting. As a pure third-person shooter, you cannot play Dolmen. Instead of ammunition, all distance weapons consume energy and you need them for something else, but we still come. So you should use the creaks more specifically, for example to take advantage of the weaknesses of your opponents.
In addition to physical, there is also fire, ice and acid damage in dolmen. And just as you are more resistant to the one or weaker towards the other depending on your equipment, this also applies to your adversary. Fittingly, there are many weapons in a fire, ice cream and acid variant and you can equip a second weapon as a backup for both the nearby and ranged combat, to which you then switch during the game by pressing a button. The same also applies to shields.
The outfit is crucial
Another cool idea is the technology system: in Dolem there is no talent tree or the like, instead your equipment determines what passive skills you have. Your armor parts are assigned to one of three categories: man, revisers and drills. The more items of a kind you wear, the more points in the respective technology beam you have what special bonuses unlock.
If you wear a lot of people created by humans, you generate more energy with hits and cause more ranged damage. Among other things, Revianic equipment ensures increased life energy, while drilling clothes both strengthen your defensive and increase the yield of nanites (the equivalent to the souls from Dark Souls). If you choose a complete set of armor objects of a category, there is a really strong effect that you would not otherwise have. The last technology of people, for example, preserves you from death. As soon as your life energy drops to 0, you automatically regenerate 50 percent of your maximum life points, endurance and energy. This has a cooldown of ten minutes and it is not unusual in Dolmen that there is a lower period between two deaths. The ability is still extremely useful.
bosse can massive work,…
Massive work also deserves praise for the design of the boss fights. For example, the second final base crouches in a large room in which several blue spheres float around the area. When you cross them, slow them down. If the enemy comes into contact with such, he absorbs it, but then crouches motionless on the ground for a few seconds. This gives you the perfect opportunity to harm him without being able to defend himself. So the tactic is clear: you have to make sure that the paths of boss and a sphere cross. You don’t always see such a nice design idea for a boss fight in Souls-Likes.
We also like the level design. As already mentioned, the environments cannot convince, but they are beautifully branched and offer many alternative paths. Dolmen is not an open-world game like Elden Ring and therefore cannot recycled, but the classic level design philosophy still has its charm. Massive work does not reach the level of the large role models, but, for example, delivers significantly better work than the most recently team Ninja with Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin.
… loot less
Our urge to explore was quickly evaporated. This is less due to the environments themselves, but more due to the rewards that await us in the end. Everything you find in dolmen are crafting materials. You have to make all weapons and armor parts on board your spaceship that serves as a hub. Now there are so many different materials that you quickly lose track. This makes it all the more unsatisfactory to find an item, because the only thought that drives us through our head is: “Ok, next time we get up in the ship, let’s take a look at the crafting menu, because maybe we can build something new “. If we found weapons and clothes in the levels directly, the feeling of reward and thus the motivation to explore would be much larger.
But the worst comes to come: Bosses also only drop crafting blueprints. And always only one item. However, in order to make the weapon, for example, made from the remains of the first boss, you need the corresponding ingredient three times. This means that you have to fight the fight three times. At least it is not absolutely necessary to hope that you can join another player’s multiplayer session who could use help (of course, this feature should not be missing in a soul-like). You can revive the enemy at a special terminal that is right in front of the entrance to the boss arena. But that doesn’t make it better for Dolmen to force you to grind if you want a certain weapon. “But in Monster Hunter it all think it’s great!” Yes, right, but Dolmen is a soul-like, not a “Monster Hunter”-like. This mechanics just don’t fit in and is just playing.
If you are knocked off from the alien gang again
We have left the worst out so far: fighting in dolmen is not particularly fun. On the one hand, this is because your attacks do not feel really satisfactory. The hit feedback is far too weak. The force with which we enter our enemies in Elden Ring, for example, can hardly be felt here. However, the much greater annoyance is the balance: Dolmen makes the mistake that it often puts you in front of your nose larger opponents, but which do not consist of enemies that you promote her with two or three blows. Oh no! We mostly had the feeling that we were not able to divide too little ourselves and insert too little. When encounters with individual adversaries, this is half as bad. But if three or four aliens plunge on you, it can quickly result in visual umbrella and thus in frustration. A day-one patch should improve balancing, to what extent, but is not known and it has not yet been published at the time of this test.
Particularly annoying: it didn’t just happen to us once that we were surrounded in narrow corridors and simply hung up. We could no longer free ourselves out of the trap because we were constantly hit, so we did not get any attacks ourselves and therefore dared miserably. Something like that must not happen in a game that wants to be super hard.
On top of that, we are angry that massive work has unnecessarily complicated healing. You restore life points by using your energy. This can be done without waiting and in the middle of movements – so far. But what if your energy is used up? Well, then you have to use a battery. You can’t move like drinking in Dark Souls and Co without breaking off the action. But at the start of the game, a battery invites your energy talk when it is completely empty. Once heals, 50 percent consumes, but regenerates just over half of your life points. And then we must not forget that you also need the energy for your ranged weapons. It would have been much better if the developers would not have combined both, but would be classically healing with consumption. Why deviate from a system when it works perfectly?
the menus of horror
Last but not least, we have to mention one thing: the menus in dolmen are gruesome. On the one hand, as in many games from Japan, you can only operate them with the control cross. That alone is not bad, but just a little bit annoying. The problem is the menu structure. Just take a look at the image of the inventory screen below and consider that you have to “control” each one of the boxes separately with the digi pad in order to equip or take off the respective object. And you can’t change the category in the middle with the shoulder buttons, no. You also have to do that with the Control Cross. In short: Dolmen definitely wins the price for the worst menus 2022.
Admittedly, after the release of a masterpiece like Elden Ring, every other Souls-Like would have had a hard time triggering enthusiasm in us. With his sci-fi scenario, Dolmen stands out so much from the Fromsoftware hit that we were happy to give him a chance. There are also good approaches, for example the technology system. But the game simply has too many blatant weaknesses, especially with regard to the core gameplay, so that we could recommend it to a clear conscience. So even if you have already played through Elden Ring, our tip is: Better to go to its New Game Plus and leave Dolmen on the left. And if you absolutely want to play a soul-like with science fiction scenario, reach for The Surge 2.
Nice technology system
Solid level design
Decent range of weapons
One or the other nice boss fight
Weak feeling of struggle
Too many too strong opponent groups
You have to craft all equipment
Weak graphic despite raytracing…
… in the quality mode that is too jerky
Horrible, cumbersome menus
Complicated healing mechanics
Lame history, poorly presented
Buy Dolmen now!