Playing Absolver is an interesting experience. It feels a bit like stepping into the shoes someone who goes out on the weekend, with no purpose other than fighting. Except in Absolver, everyone else on the street is in the same mood.
Absolver is fundamentally about combat. The gameplay involves wandering the ruined city of Raslan and punching-on with just about everyone you meet. Doing so is the only way to train yourself up from a lowly prospect to an accomplished Absolver.
Considering this basic premise, it’s a pretty good job that the developer Sloclap have created an incredibly deep and rewarding combat system. At first, the combat seems simple. There’s your standard light attack, heavy attack, block and dodge. Absolver adds the ability to fluidly switch between four stances that alter the way you face your opponent. This opens a huge amount of tactical variety.
Rising up to the challenge of our rivals
Absolver is based on a system that rewards players for their time invested. There are the typical RPG -type experience stats to earn. There’s also a fair learning curve associated with knowing how to precisely time your attacks. However, more importantly, you need to spend time fighting, in order to learn moves from your opponents. As you encounter other fighters, if they use a move against you that you don’t know, and you successfully block it, you progress a little towards learning that attack.
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Enough successful blocks and you can add that move to your Combat Deck. The Combat Deck is where you customise your character’s fighting style. You do so by building combos to assign to each of the four stances. These combos are the key to this game.
It’s really easy to lose a huge amount of time in the menus, experimenting with different sets of moves. The addictive quality and quirk to the combos are that some moves will end you in a different stance than the one they started in. In these cases, you can potentially chain skills that will allow you to flow through all of the stances over and over if uninterrupted. The options for customisation are nearly endless and on the occasions you encounter other players, the chances of having the same or even similar fighting styles are very slim.
Thanks for making me a fighter
Coming across other players is an interesting experience. There’s no way to communicate other than silently emoting. Things usually go one of two ways; you can team up and kill NPCs, or you can fight one another. The one encounter I had led to me being summarily defeated. Something that happens a fair bit if you’re not very careful. Often I would pick a fight with an NPC only for his buddies to come out of the shadows with a clear ganking agenda.
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Graphically, Absolver is nice bordering on a bit plain. The art style is pleasant with the environment composed of polygons with mainly matte textures. It seems to aim for a water-colour retro look. Though the characters have a little more detail. I’d like to think that it’s so that the background doesn’t distract from the action. It’s a difficult line, but Absolver’s visuals still remain interesting enough while exploring the reasonably large open world.
The sound is oddly minimal too. Generally, soothing or slightly creepy music and little environmental sound will be heard. As with everything else in Absolver, the focus is on the combat. You’ll definitely hear lots of combative sound effects.
Float like a float bot, sting like an automated stinging machine
Overall I think Absolver is very decent. It reminds me a little of the good old days of Double Dragon on Atari. Cruising down streets and alleys, beating up anyone who gets in your way but. The strong emphasis on replicating the fluidity of various martial art styles makes fights a pleasure to participate in or even just to watch.
It definitely seems to be a game where you only get as much out of it as you put in. If you take the time to really get to grips with the deck system and the subtleties of the fighting system I think it is very rewarding.
Absolver was reviewed on PC using a digital promotional copy provided to PowerUp! by Devolver Digital.
Game Title: Absolver
Game Description: Absolverputs players behind the mask of a Prospect, who has taken a sacred vow and chosen to join the Absolvers, an elite corps of combatants fighting to maintain stability in the world.
Deep Combat System - 9/10
Steep Learning Curve - 8/10
Controller required, keyboard controls suck! - 5.5/10