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May 2022


Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Prime Matter
Developer: Massive Work Studio
Release Date: May 20, 2022


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PS5/PS4/XSX/XOne/PC Preview - 'Dolmen'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Dec. 13, 2021 @ 6:00 a.m. PST

Dolmen is a third-person action/RPG, where sci-fi and cosmic horror have mixed in an engrossing gameplay experience!

Dolmen is set in the distant future. Humanity has taken to the stars and thrives by mining rare minerals and resources from alien planets. Unfortunately for humanity, the Zoan Corporation's latest attempt met with a little accident. The planet Revion Prime is home to the rare Dolmen Crystals, an exceedingly powerful and rare material that offers untapped potential. While mining, they accidentally caused an interdimensional rift that dragged horrific otherworldly entities into our reality. Your character is hired to go to Revion Prime, figure out what happened, and recover as much Dolmen as possible while surviving the horrific onslaught of terrible creatures.

It's just another standard nine-to-five job.

Dolmen is most easily described as a Soulslike, and that's fairly accurate. The core gameplay is going to feel familiar to fans of the genre. You have all of it, including weightier melee combat restricted by stamina, deadly enemies and limited health recovery. Even the death system is standard for the genre, with death causing your leveling resources — nanites, in this case — to be left behind where you died, giving you one chance to recover them before they're lost forever. This isn't a criticism, but you know what you're in for when you boot it up.

Dolmen allows for a more dynamic, long-range combat style than you usually see in a Soulslike. You have a dedicated energy bar that is used for guns and other ranged weapons. The guns aren't quite as reliably strong as melee weapons, and a lot of enemies love to get up close and personal, so it isn't an easy mode. Energy is also useful for players who like melee combat. You enter a temporary Energy mode where your melee attacks and combos are powered up. There are also special moves that use up Energy, but you can regain it by attacking enemies with standard melee attacks.

However, energy comes at a cost because it's also used to replenish your HP. Dolmen's version of the Estus Flask is the battery, which recharges your energy. This means that you need to balance the damage you want to deal with your need to heal. A ranged play style is safer than a melee play style, but since you're using up energy, getting hit hurts more. It's a give-and-take system that encourages more thoughtful use of resources than the standard Estus Flask system of "get hit, hit heal."

Multiplayer is also going to be part of the game, but it seems geared for pure cooperation than the antagonistic/cooperative methods you see in the Souls series. While exploring the world, you can find Dolmen Fragments. When you reach a boss, you can use those Fragments to summon help to fight it. This isn't obligated by any means, but it offers you the chance to take down particularly difficult enemies with help. Once a boss is defeated, you can also spend the Dolmen Fragments to respawn the boss, so you can farm it for valuable loot. Respawned bosses can also be taken on cooperatively. Reaching the boss is up to you, though.

Loot is an important part of any Soulslike, and Dolmen is no exception. There are going to be well over a hundred different pieces of equipment in the final game, ranging from armor to weaponry. Each piece of equipment can also be synthesized using materials found in the environment, and you can use different materials to craft different kinds of the same weapon, allowing for greater customization. If you use a lot of energy, you'll want energy conservation; if you like to get up close and personal, you'll probably want defenses instead.

Equipment influences your technology tree, which is like set bonuses in other games. There are three trees: Human, Revion and Driller. Based on the equipment you have, the trees gain bonuses, with greater bonuses the higher you are in the tree. For example, the Human tree gives increasingly more bonuses to energy regeneration and ranged damage, and at its highest level, it provides a free once-very-10-minutes instant respawn upon death. Revion is melee-focused, so it lets your melee attacks drain enemy HP and gives you more stamina. Driller increases your defenses and lets you earn more nanites. Not only do you need to consider the weapon's stats, but you also need to think about how it influences your tech tree.

Overall, Dolmen has the potential to be a fun entry in the Soulslike franchise. The increased focus on ranged combat and the futuristic-meets-Cthulhu setting showcase a lot of potential for something in the vein of Dead Space. There's a lot of interesting little mechanical quirks that I'm interested to see fleshed out in the final version of the game. I look forward to seeing more when Dolmen is released in 2022 for the PC, PS5 and Xbox Series X|S.

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