Action RPG Dolmen offers a challenging combination of sci-fi and cosmic horror. Seamlessly blending the two into the enormous futuristic world of Revion Prime, Dolmen is a Soulslike adventure you can really sink your teeth into. From looming organic nesting chambers to sleek corridors of metal, each area offers detailed exploration and complex battles.
The Dolmen of the title are crystals with unique and mysterious properties. Your mission, as a mercenary, is to send samples of these back from this hostile alien world, so they can be further studied and exploited – perhaps enabling a new frontier of space travel that will change the known world forever. Revion Prime is far from a welcoming world, and not only will players find themselves thrown into relentless battles with horrifying creatures, but with the environment itself.
Knowing how to keep yourself safe, energised, and ready for combat is crucial for success in Dolmen. Every corner of the world is out to get you, but your abilities and weapons may just give you the edge. We spoke to Gabriel Neves Ferreira, the CTO of Massive Work Studio, who gave us some insider insight on how best to approach your first few battles in the game.
When playing Dolmen, you can expect to come up against all manner of foes, both human and alien. “You’ve got arachnid enemies, bugs, and some humanoid enemies, large ones, the enemy on the cover of the game, which is a great boss fight… You can also expect generals in heavy armour, and mutations and abominations of all kinds,” says Ferreira. So yes, you’ll have tentacled monstrosities piling on top of you and battle-worn generals sending troops to mow you down, but the key in any battle, he says, is to remember that every enemy has a plan. Regardless of species, do not underestimate the enemy – and try to learn their specific weak points as you progress.
“Every enemy is really powerful against you, this world is not forgiving,” Ferreira advises, “from the first boss, my advice is to play strategically. Watch their movements, be careful, take your time, and use every element you have at your disposal.” With every enemy, there are an array of moves that can be used against them. Rather than running headlong into a fight with a heavy attack and wondering why it isn’t enough, it may be worth considering incorporating some jump, dodge, or lighter attacks to first stagger the enemy. Once your enemy is down on the ground you’ve got a chance to do some real damage, and could even walk away with your life intact.
The element of surprise
There are three elements in Dolmen – fire, acid, and ice. Enemies will be particularly susceptible to one or more of these elements when used in combat, and they can be assigned to weapons for further impact. Entering Energy Mode will impart elemental status on your weapon and allow you to exploit their specific weaknesses.
One of the benefits of going into a Soulslike and knowing you’re in for an intense fight is that you’ll expect to be coming up against the same battles until you’re able to defeat them. Through trial and error you’ll learn which enemies are slowed by ice, and which enemies will cower from an acid attack. “Every boss has different mechanics,” says Ferreira, “and the way you adapt to them is really important.”
Play to your strengths
If you’re not getting the results you want from relentless attacking, it may be time to switch to defence. With the skill trees, players can customise their build as much or as little as they like, but Ferreira recommends tailoring it to your personal strengths. “For example,” he says, “if you’re better with ranged weapons I would personally recommend going for a defensive build. Take your time, fall back sometimes, and shoot a little to weaken the enemy before arriving into combat.”
For those who are more melee-focused, he recommends a more aggressive build, using the skill tree to buff raw combat skills and rushing the enemy with weapons like the Dual Gauntlets. Favouring one style of gameplay may make things more difficult for the player, but it certainly won’t be impossible.
Keep your head up
But it isn’t just about taking down the enemy – Dolmen is no arcade shooter, and you have to be aware of your physical limits. Players must keep an eye on their Health, Stamina, and Energy bars, each of which has a distinct purpose and dictates how much you can do in each battle.
The Health bar is exactly what it sounds like, and Stamina allows you to dodge and use melee attacks. Where things get tricky is when either of these runs out and you have to use Energy. The Energy bar is used partially to boost the Health bar during combat, but will be depleted a little further with every use. Keeping an eye on both of these bars will be crucial to your success.
“You do need to be careful,” Ferreira says, “about how much you’re healing. Energy is limited and recovering it is really hard. You do have batteries that can replenish it, but those take a while to work, and are in limited supply”. Simply put, players will have to ration their Energy and try to protect their Health for as long as possible without using it if they want to succeed – requiring a more tactical style of gameplay.
To make matters even harder, Energy is how you get the power to shoot. If you’re using ranged weapons and you run out of Energy, things are going to go downhill pretty quickly. Luckily, there is a distinction between the two – with Energy used to heal being ‘non recoverable’, and Energy used for shooting slowly recovering itself over time. The link between the two is important to remember, however, as Energy can only be used for one purpose at a time, so alternating between healing and shooting must be perfectly timed.
“In order to be ready for combat,” warns Ferreira, “make sure you have full Energy and plenty of batteries. If you overextend, you’ll have to go back to a terminal and recover your batteries, which means the enemy will respawn.”
It’s a lot to take in for newcomers, but if you’re up for the challenge, then Dolmen will certainly provide. Dolmen is available right now on PC via Steam – get your copy today.