Now, I’m normally not the biggest fan of the Soulslike genre, but Dolmen had me intrigued with its Lovecraftian-horror-meets-Metroid style of approach. That tough as nails action RPG combat, mixed with a slew of creepy sci-fi monsters and labyrinthine level design really gets the blood pumping… Well, when you’re not dead on the floor, that is.
Keeping Things Fresh
Dolmen is pretty straightforward when it comes to the combat side of things. Choose a starting class that best aligns with your play style, craft some equipment with various damage-related effects, and then cycle through 2 or 3 basic light and heavy combo attacks to win. All in all, a bit lacking compared to other action RPGs. Even though the controls are fine, Dolmen just needed that extra bit of panache to truly stand out, but it still feels fun to play regardless.
On that note, one aspect I really enjoyed was how you can switch between your current MP and stamina to perform additional actions, which definitely comes in handy. Especially if you get greedy with attacks like me and find yourself not being able to evade, it’s a literal lifesaver. Getting used to this feature did take some time, albeit it does make the gameplay substantially more layered. The bosses help on this front too. Not only are they varied and challenging, but they often encourage different playstyles or use of the environment.
One fight has you trying to trap an aggressive swordfighter into these energy-sapping orb things, while the next is best served with a no-nonsense gunfight. Clean and simple. Now, of course, there are other ways to defeat these baddies too. Don’t get me wrong. I just wanted to admire the thought and effort put into each one. If you are finding these battles a little too difficult though, you can phone 3 friends to join in on the carnage. The multiplayer is only for bosses however, just so you’re aware. On the flip side, you can summon a defeated boss again to farm for higher-tier loot over and over, if you so choose.
The All Too Familiar Presentation of Dolmen
When it comes to the presentation side of things, Dolmen can’t help but seem a little budget. It can be finicky as heck to move through menus and some of the UI elements aren’t the most readable or intuitive for a game released in 2022. I also hate that when you’re hit while aiming a firearm, the game suddenly thinks you’re trying to swing a melee weapon following the next trigger press, which then leads to even more incoming damage and death. Not cool.
Thankfully, the equipment and stat upgrades are relatively straightforward to manage and there isn’t too much going on in terms of menu-ing itself. Although, the level design and general aesthetic do scream Metroid to a T. Some enemies are placed in some cheeky, cheeky positions and you will find yourself circling around like an extremely lost dog trying to find its owner. And while it certainly isn’t the worst-looking game out there, Dolmen does contain some cool sci-fi inspired locales for players to explore.
The story is where the game falls short for me though, it just feels very trite. There’s just a bunch of generic text logs and generic audio files to be found that don’t offer much, alongside more generic-looking alien dudes who hand you items for speaking with them. At least that’s one redeeming quality… What’s the story about, you ask? I honestly can’t even remember because I was that checked out. It’s ‘something, something, go investigate planet because something, something, giant corporation’ says so. Yep, that sounds about right.
If you’re a fan of Soulslikes and are looking for another fix after completing Elden Ring, then this title might be worth your time. Dolmen features a great range of boss fights that keep the challenge fresh and a solid Metroidvania inspired design which helps maintain the intrigue and discovery. While it does have a few noticeable drawbacks with its story, presentation and specific gameplay elements, Dolmen is a decent enough action RPG that aims to surprise at least once or twice.
Dolmen is a serviceable, sci-fi ARPG that sets players up against a gauntlet of strong enemies and varied bosses. Utilising the Metroidvania style approach to progression, the game aims to keep players on their toes with it’s striking visual design and level layout. It’s just a shame the story isn’t up to scratch and a few certain gameplay features are left wanting.
This game was reviewed using a download code provided by Koch Media. The Beta Network uses affiliate partnerships, however, this does not influence reviews or any other content published. The Beta Network may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links that are on the website.