DOLMEN is a currently in-development Soulsborne style game that finds itself uniquely influenced by titles such as Dead Space, Mass Effect, and Lovecraftian horror to bring an impressive and unique experience. Find out what we thought of Brazil-based Massive Work Studio’s Kickstarter Build of DOLMEN.
When you dive into a Soulsborne style game, there are several expectations you have when diving facefirst into the experience. One, you want something that’s going to intrigue you from the very beginning due to its atmosphere. Two, you expect solid mechanics that deliver unique gameplay elements and finally, third, you want a game that is visually as stunning as you could expect from games this-day-in-age.
Back in March, I was able to dive into DOLMEN for the very first time and my experience is what I expected from one such game. Due to its “in-development” state, I knew it wasn’t going to be a polished experience. I was hit with bugs, framerate dips, inconsistent controls, and some minor crashes when pushing my way through the various bug-infested corridors, hunting my way through to the very first boss.
To be honest, it wasn’t the experience I’d hoped for when looking at backing a game or even promoting it in any shape or form. It was a buggy, unpolished experience that could have used a bit more time “in the cooker” as my grandfather used to say. Now, here we are, months later and a Kickstarter that had wrapped up only to be rebooted in recent days.
With more than $13,000 USD made and only a rough 2K short of its Kickstarter minimal goal, we have a better idea of what the game is about, what’s going on, and a demo that has actually been polished up with many of the bugs I’d once experienced squashed. So where does it sit as a game with tons of potential and limitless possibilities? Let’s talk a bit about the game first.
What exactly is DOLMEN?
DOLMEN isn’t what you would normally expect, it’s a game that actually works quite well as a science fiction Soulsborne style game that puts its use of story and gameplay elements directly before the player, giving them an idea of what their ultimate goal actually is.
As an explorer, you’ve been asleep for quite some time. Your memory is somewhat of a blur, your background isn’t very well known, and your job? Well, it’s to hopefully survive, find out why these insect-like creatures and synthetics have taken over the mining colony that had been exploring the very world before you.
Much of your story is told through the use of the atmosphere Massive Work Studio has designed, giving us plenty of things to work with, which includes the atmosphere, a background, and even more regarding what is going on with the game. Sadly, we only know what little has been given to us, which includes the idea of what’s going on with the insect-type creatures I’ve encountered quite a few times through my time with the Kickstarter Build of the game.
Combat is actually enjoyable as it looks, it’s even punishingly hard
Much like games such as Dark Souls and The Surge, each features their very own mechanics, each of them unique to what delivers their experience to the forefront. In DOLMEN, the combat is much as you would expect, RB to light attack, RT for your heavy, LB to block, and LT to draw out your ranged weapon.
The ranged weapons themselves each come with their own unique attributes, just like any game, that serve as elemental effects. One of them being ice, which freezes and slows your foes, while using your generator, for example, will energize your weapon, allowing you to use different elements such as Cryogenics (ice), Light Wave (fire), or even Poison or Magnetism that provide unique approaches to every situation.
Parrying also plays a large role based on the generator you decide to use gives you some unique bonuses, such as the “lightwave” generator that allows you to gain an extra attack against your foes while the generator itself is active. The trade-off to using this one? Parrying attacks that your enemies are making, which in turn, regenerates a percentage of your energy levels that allow you to quickly heal yourself or even use your energized weapons or your ranged arsenal.
As part of their unique approach to combat, Massive Work Studio has also included the use of the environment as part of your approach to combat, which provides unique situations that can both benefit you and impede upon your progress through the game. Luckily for us, it’s unique and it works in your favor rather well.
While the environment itself is a threat, there’s more to this game than meets the eye and one of the things you might be wondering about is the more technical aspects, how it performs, how well the sound design performs, and how visually appealing the game actually is in its current state.
Let’s take a peek under the hood.
When you want to talk about performance, there are a few things we have to look at, one, the hardware used, two the performance of said hardware, and three, how well the game performs while pushing the hardware as hard as it can. First, let’s take a look at the hardware used with our definitive list of hardware down below:
- Motherboard: MSI Z270 M7 Game Ready Plus
- GPU: MSI Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 6GB Game Ready Plus
- CPU: Intel I7-7700K 3.6GHz OCed to 4.2GHz
- Cooling Unit: Cooler Master GTS V8
- RAM: Corsair Vengeance 16GB
- HDD/SDs: 525GB Crucial SSD | Seagate Barracuda 7200 RPM HDD
With this being what we are running, one must consider the fact we run every game we review on ultra high just as we are with the current build of DOLMEN. When it comes to running DOLMEN we’ve noticed how it runs as steady as one can expect, that’s even with Streamlabs OBS running while streaming the game. There were only a few rare spikes in the framerates in very specific spots, which were repeated and only happened after the games latest balancing patch.
When it comes to visual fidelity, the game itself is on part with Mass Effect 2 and Dead Space. Since this game is still in development, we do expect the game’s graphics to get upgraded over time, putting it on par with the likes of Dark Souls III and Bloodborne. Even as it is now, DOLMEN is a rather visually appealing game, giving us something to actually enjoy and take in for what it is.
Framerates themselves sat at a solid 115fps sometimes dipping down between 100 and 105 fps. The draw distance itself is actually quite admirable, not ever popping in textures or any features of the game. It feels authentically loaded when you start the game, giving no reason for active load times or the need for load screens between each of the zones.
The sound design is spot-on and some of the best we’ve heard.
Now one thing is abundantly clear about this game: Massive Work Studio takes a lot of pride in what they do. The sound is dead on and offers one of the most immersive experiences to date. Weapons, armor, all of it reacts to each of your interactions, giving the world itself a unique aspect to it, a lived-in and unique aspect to say the least.
Whether its the soft “breathing” sound of poison sacks or the soft movements of creatures in the distance, DOLMEN is an absolute charm, giving it more depth than most of the titles we’ve played to date. Even the holstering of your weapons makes an audible tone, giving you an idea of the level of immersion the company wishes you to have.
While there are certainly sound effects we’d like to see, such as a sound effect that indicates the use of items prior to their activation effect. Besides that, there’s not much to complain about. Everything is spot-on and everything is quite spectacular to be quite honest. However, it leaves a want for more, a want to see just how far this team will go in order to make the game better than any other we’ve experienced to date.
While DOLMEN certainly still has some work that needs to be done, it still offers a solid experience, one that is absolutely awesome and quite entertaining at that, we still have a lot more in the works and a lot more I can’t wait to see. The only downside here is that it will be next year before we see it – if the Kickstarter meets its goals by Oct. 4, 2018, and if it does, we’ll see something magnificent unfold before us when the game launches on PC PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
If you want to know more, you can visit the official Kickstarter page via the link below to learn more about the game today. You can also check out our playthrough via the link above to our official YouTube playthrough of the game with the developers behind DOLMEN in the chat.
About the Writer:
Dustin is our native console game reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPGs, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.