Holomento – fresh roguelite 3D Adventure RPG – Early Access (p)Review – Test

Holomento is a Permadeath Roguelite RPG in Which we Gradually Rebuild the World Over Several Characters

Holomento - roguelite 3D Adventure RPG - Early Access (p)Review - Cover
Holomento – roguelite 3D Adventure RPG
Early Access (p)Review – Cover

Holomento was released on Steam and GOG in Early Access on April 27th, 2022. What kind of game is Holomento, how far is the game in development, and most importantly, is it fun to play? I’ll tell you in this short preview of the Early Access version. Holomento is being developed by Indie Solo Dev Sean Weech, with a little help from the German studio Deck13 (known for The Surge).

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In Holomento we create a character, unfortunately at the moment always male and faceless, explore the world and beat up a lot of skeletons, rats, wolves, knights, and many other enemies. In the process, we gradually unlock gates, collect resources with which we rebuild the destroyed towns in the land, or invest our collected gold in various stores. But, when we die, our character is truly dead.

Holomento – Roguelite RPG -Rebuild a World

Because permadeath applies in Holomento, every mistake, every fall from a cliff, every failed fight against a boss or an unluckily triggered trap in a dungeon can be the real end of our hero. This threat makes us approach things a little more cautiously.

However, not all is really lost with this. Because even if our character is deleted and we have to start over, the roguelite system still keeps some things and develops them from game to game. Thus, we collect resources to rebuild villages, and all the resources that we once gave remain there in the village. When we have really renovated a village again, it stays in that state. We unlock new starting points, we unlock additional character classes and weapon classes, and then those achievements are available to our new hero right from the beginning.

And with that, we may die every now and then, but the world of Holomento itself will keep evolving. If we successfully complete certain areas, shortcuts and gates open up, and they stay. I found this system irritating at first, but the longer I played, the more I liked this unusual approach.

Character Development, Equipment, and Skills

In Holomento, as befits a role-playing game, we advance in levels after dealing with a number of enemies or completing quests. Over time, we can unlock 6 character classes. Our first hero starts as a Wanderer, and then we get access to Rangers, Knights, and other archetypes later on.

Our hero is defined by basic stats such as HP, attack speed, damage, run speed, range, and spread. These stats improve primarily by the equipment we put on.

Each character can melee, but also ranged attacks with magic shots. There are different weapon types in this game, but they differ more in speed, range, and spread, not so much if we hit or shoot with them because that goes both ways, though I don’t know about the bow, I haven’t tried that one yet.

So, each char can fire magic shots at their opponents. The element of these projectiles, the type, and quantity, are determined by the equipment we can find. Here you can find spellbooks or magic gloves in crates or from dead enemies, and you can also sometimes buy them in stores.

A special feature of Holomento is that our equipment also ascends in levels. If we find a pair of pants of the same type as we are already wearing, we can stack the new one on top of the old one, so to speak. The pants will then gain experience and level up, improving their stats. Our weapons also get experience for using them, just like we do.

Direct skills we don’t have, but we can find magic items that give us special abilities. For example, on one playthrough I had a ring that allowed me to briefly turn into a cloud of ice every 30 seconds, allowing me to escape a horde of enemies that had surrounded me, as an example. There are probably many more effects to be found here, but I haven’t had that much luck yet. Or maybe you have to expand the stores further first, or something like that.

Combat, Enemies, Dungeons, and Challenges

Holomento has a fairly limited range of enemies so far. This starts with skeletons, rats, and wolves, it moves on to soldiers and knights in mostly dark-colored armor and continues with elemental spirits of various elements such as fire, water, and darkness. To add some variety here, these enemies also come in different sizes.

Once in a while, there are so-called “giants”, here we then meet about 3 to 5 times larger variants of the same opponents, which have more HP, and also then perform special attacks. Because a giant skeleton simply stomps us with a heel kick directly on the head. These giants can appear randomly, but sometimes they are also firmly scripted placed in certain places and boss arenas, and then there are usually also extra chests as a reward.

The type of weapons and attacks is also still relatively limited. However, you may be able to greatly expand this selection through unlocks, but only if you have played a corresponding amount. You have a dodge roll that can often save your neck, I actually found it a bit overpowered, because if you roll around skillfully you can avoid most damage, and without really using up your stamina in the process.

Generally, the combat system isn’t boring, but it hasn’t really been well-balanced yet. Most enemies are pure cannon fodder and die without ever dealing damage. Even giants and bosses can usually be done very well with dodge rolls and a little kiting (running away backward while shooting). If I ever died, it was usually the result of a fall from a greater height, not from too much of a beating.

Regions, Quests, and Tasks

There is one “main task” in Holomento, and it always consists of reaching a magical pillar of light that we can see from almost anywhere in the world. However, to do this, we have to travel through numerous regions. There are grassy meadows, forests, deserts, icy landscapes, and everything filled with the most diverse plants and things, but unfortunately mostly the same enemies. If we reach the light pillar at some point, the game run is over, we get special rewards and, same as in the case of a death, we start again from scratch.

We can accept more or less random tasks on bulletin boards. Here there are usually some “kill 20 skeletons”, “hunt 10 giants” or “cause 10,000 damage” quests. Sometimes there are also NPCs who give us tasks that are not quite so random. And then there are also great collection quests, such as with a librarian who takes rare relics from us and puts them together into a collection. These collected relics also survive death or restarting.

Then there are some rather nicely designed dungeons, or rather random-generated dungeons because these caves, castles, and vaults are created anew from given components every time the game starts. In these, there are numerous small puzzles to solve, or we have to collect keys to open a door in a different place. Here, Holomento really offers quite a nice box full of ideas even in this early version, from which these dungeons are being furnished.

Tech, Graphics, and Sound

Holomento is built with the Unity engine. The landscapes aren’t super varied so far, but in places, the game manages to paint some surprisingly pretty views on the monitor. The graphic models are rather low-poly in style, but fancy lighting in large parts of the game makes it quite a pleasant ambiance.

Sounds are scant, but birdsong, flapping noises, a bit of monster grumbling, and the water rushing by the stream make up at least a basic soundtrack. The NPCs imitate a sort of pseudo-speech, but I found this to be more of a nuisance than an asset to the game. There is sometimes such pseudo-speech, as in The Sims, that works quite well, but here it is unfortunately not the case.

All texts in the game are purely in English so far. No other languages are offered.

Holomento Screenshots – Ingame Pictures

Click or tap on the image for a larger view.
In the enlarged view, you can scroll right and left on the edges

Early Access – State of the Game and Opinion

I do test Early Access games very often. In these games you know right away that the product is not finished yet, it will probably be developed further in the coming weeks and months. But unfortunately, there are also always black sheep, where the development at some point simply falls asleep. Or as another negative example, there are some games where the developers tinker with it on and off for years, but it still never becomes a properly finished game.

In some opposite extreme cases, you’re not even sure why developers put your game in that status in the first place. Because sometimes a completely rounded, finished game is already there at the Early Access launch, and it wouldn’t have needed the “unfinished building site” warning label at all.

With Holomento, this label is really appropriate. The game shows a version number of 0.5.09 at the moment, and since one normally assumes that development is finished with version 1.0 for the time being, it seems to me that there is still a long way to go here. There is a roadmap button in the main menu as well, but it takes you to a very complex, not very clear Trello board (a kind of ToDo list software). There are a lot of things that are already done, but unfortunately, you can’t really tell from it where the journey should be going in the coming months.

And there is definitely still a lot to do. The character is often stuck in some stones, walls, or other components, as a solution, the game simply offers an “Unstuck” function in the main menu, which even helps most of the time. But this solution is not really great.

The inventory system is far from convenient. Some items can be collected and sold, but equipment like clothes or weapons can only be carried once at a time, and if you find something else for those slots, you have to throw it away. I really don’t like that system that much. This is where I would like a Diablo-style grid inventory much better, but presumably, that would require each item to get an icon, and currently, everything goes with plain text. More work would be needed here, but the current inventory system left me less than thrilled, more annoyed.

The fights are sometimes quite entertaining but often end up in persistent running away and shooting or hit-and-run. If you go into close combat, that is also quite interesting, but then you need healing potions more often. These can be found from time to time, but their usage is hidden in some submenus, which are very cumbersome to use in the middle of a fight. The game offers an interesting selection in the area of potions, but due to this inconvenient menu system, I didn’t like to use them very often.

The dungeons are made really exciting in parts, this part is really commendable. And the developer should really consider extending some of the features that so far only exist in the dungeons to the overworld as well. That would certainly do the game some good.

I must praise that Holomento never crashed on me. However, two characters “died” on me, because they were stuck somewhere, where they could not get out even with unstuck and reloading. The only thing that helped then was a new char.

What also still bothers me a lot is the missing face of the characters and the very limited possibilities in the character creation. Neither can you somehow give the hero a special look, nor change hair or even gender, somehow such things belong to a role-playing game for my feelings. And my wife told me right away, “it looks very interesting, I would really like to play this, but I have absolutely no desire to play a male guy”.

Holomento Early Access Review – Conclusion

Holomento offers some special approaches and ideas that you don’t often find in other games so far. And the 3D world is really nifty and extensive. The RPG system is immature and unfinished, but it offers some interesting ideas that could possibly become great someday if they were a bit more mature.

And this is kind of true for the whole game, it might become great once it’s more mature. But for the current state, I feel the $19.99 or € for a semi-finished game without a proper story and with far more major construction sites than enemy models is a bit too high.

If you got interested in what you have read, I would first take a closer look, and maybe play a demo, if one is offered. Unless, of course, you say just under 20 euros for maybe 5-6 hours of gameplay is totally okay for you, then grab it. And if you’re a huge fan of roguelite RPGs, this might also be particularly interesting for you, and hopefully will get even better in the future.

I don’t want to give the game a proper rating at the moment. In my opinion, it was simply released way too early. Maybe the developer desperately needed feedback from real players to develop it further, but aside from that, the current version is a really very early, Early Access version.

Holomento Steam Page

Holomento Homepage

Holomento Twitter

Holomento at GOG.com

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About Zap "Dirk", Author from ZapZockt.de

Dirk "Zap" from ZapZockt.de,
40+ gamer, gaming since 1980, mainly strategy titles, MMOs, and RPGs. Writes game reviews, gaming news, and also sometimes about technology, hardware, and YouTube. Otherwise, can opener for the cat queen Tessa, retailer, PC freak, "The one who installs your printer driver".

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