Whenever a genre gets very popular, we normally see an influx of copycat games trying to capitalize on the hype. Ever since Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls got popular, tons of other games have copied its winning formula.
There have been good Souls clones out there such as Nioh and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order just to name a few. However, there are also some bad Souls-like games out there like Hellpoint, and now we have the release of Dolmen this year.
Dolmen is a game developed by a small Brazilian developer named Massive Work Studio. While I usually applaud small game developers trying to make slick video games, sadly Dolmen is an unoriginal Souls-like that fails to try something that differentiates itself from other games out there.
It’s hard to compare Souls games now since the excellent Elden Ring came out just a short time ago. Elden Ring is the pinnacle of what a Souls-like should be like and Dolmen just isn’t able to compare to it. One of the only original aspects of Dolmen is its futuristic science fiction setting.
Here in Dolmen, you create your own character as they are deployed into an outside alien planet called ‘Revion Prime’. Your mission should you choose to accept it is to acquire a special type of crystal known as ‘Dolmen’. The mission is easier said than done because the planet is littered with tons of hostile monster enemies and huge bosses.
Thanks to the game’s science fiction setting, predictably the level design is dark and drab looking. You won’t see the bright and diverse environments like those seen in Elden Ring, or anything like that. There is also no map in the game, so you will have to explore the levels on your own to know where you need to go next!
The game also lacks any fast travel, so it’s boring if you want to go back to a certain section of the game. I also found myself going in circles sometimes because the environment looks the same as it’s all dark corridors and locked doors everywhere.
Another annoying Souls-like trope that this game adopts is that there is no option for you to pause the gameplay. Being unable to pause gameplay during a single-player game is pointless and annoying. Pausing a game is essential if you need to go to the toilet or just need a break .
Anyway, let’s now talk about the gameplay in Dolmen. Predictably, Dolmen does not have any difficulty settings whatsoever. You are stuck on the default hard difficulty that is set by the developer. If you are a noob when it comes to Souls-like games, it’s best to avoid this game at all costs.
One thing I do like about this game however is that there is both short and long-ranged combat. I chose the Bounty Hunter class which allowed me to have more stamina. You also have options for both light and heavy attacks.
Long ranged combat is cool because you can actually wield a gun. Players can also deflect shots back at enemies which is new for a Souls-like game. Deflecting shots becomes essential because you need to use them in order to defeat the game’s second boss.
That being said, the combat in this game feels slow and lethargic sometimes. Even dodging isn’t as slick and fast as the likes of Nioh and Sekiro. You will need to adjust to the game’s pace if you are used to other games with superior combat.
It’s also worth mentioning that leveling up becomes very important as you need to save up nanite points. Nanites are used for you to spend to craft more powerful weapons and armor. I needed to craft a better sword to defeat a giant spider called the Dementula.
Another weapon that proved useful to me was a shotgun added a fire element to it. Some enemies have elemental weaknesses so you may need to craft specific weapons to aid you during combat. Other elements in the game include Acid and Ice too.
The game also has three different technology types which are Human, Driller and Revian. Each type gives you different types of bonuses in combat. I opted to craft the Human technology most of the time because it has an energy bonus for health and more.
Energy is helpful in this game because you can use it to replenish your health. If you are in need of more energy, you can regain it by using batteries. However, sometimes trying to replenish your health can be a slow process if you are in the middle of a boss fight.
Overall, Dolmen is an okay action RPG, although it fails to really try something new for itself. Aside from the use of guns and its sci-fi setting, everything else it tries to copy is inferior compared to other games in the same genre. This game is only worth playing if you don’t mind playing Souls-like games as a whole.
[Editor’s Note: Dolmen was reviewed on Xbox Series X and a copy was provided to us for review purposes.]