Dark Souls gave way to The Surge. The Surge gave way to Hellpoint. Now, Dolmen is here to give us yet another sci-fi Souls-like. The game is set for release next year, and I got to take a hard look at an early build to see what sort of horrible deaths await players when it becomes available. This preview build features an early area, plus a teleport to a mid-game section after beating a boss. There’s another boss at the end of that, so my playtime here won’t exactly paint a complete picture.
The game is all about the Zoan corporation (not to be confused with the Devil Fruit), and you play as a driller sent to the planet Revion to find the titular resource, Dolman. Naturally, the stuff is used for interdimensional travel. Upon landing, however, you realize that creatures from other dimensions are kicking around, and it’s up to you to explore and find as much of the substance as possible. Since Dolmen is a Souls-like, this means that you’ll be carefully navigating the environments while trying to make it through alive.
Instead of the more typical Bonfire-type safe points, you’ll come across beacons. You respawn at these, but you don’t level up at them. Instead, you use beacons to transport yourself to your ship, which allows you to spend nanite points that you get from defeated enemies. You can also change your outfit colors, and respawn bosses using Dolmen fragments — so you can farm for drops. Dolmen also has a focus on guns, which you can either aim freely or use after locking-on to enemies. Both guns and melee weapons have light and strong attacks, although they make use of different meters.
Familiar, but promising
As you’d expect, you primarily use stamina for most actions. You can run, dodge, attack, block, and parry. You know how this works. However, guns and healing both use energy. Healing drains your energy completely, but shooting only temporarily depletes it, meaning that you just need to wait a bit for the meter to recharge before you open fire again. When you run out of energy, you’ll need to use a battery to recharge. By default, you respawn with four of these. Each full meter let me heal a couple of times before needing to use another battery, so Dolmen seems to be a bit more lenient early on.
You can also choose specific starting loadouts to give yourself a bit of an edge at the outset. I went with one that gave me dual-wielded energy weapons. You can also choose single-handed weapons, shields, and two-handed weapons. If you have a shield or two-handed weapon, you can parry enemy attacks. Combat in Dolmen is pretty much exactly what you find in every other Souls-like, which is to say that the controls are very responsive and combat is tight and challenging. Obviously, this is a tough game, and it doesn’t shy away from laying you flat, even early on.
In the very beginning, I mostly went up against these weird insect creatures. They’re not all that strong individually, but the game doesn’t mind throwing half a dozen of them at you at one time, which saw me dying occasionally. Shortly after, there are human-esque enemies that are much more dangerous.
Overall, I walked away impressed but thoroughly discouraged — just like any Souls-like worth its salt. If you’re looking for another sci-fi game in the subgenre, it’s looking like Dolmen is definitely one to keep your eyes on.