Platform: Steam, Windows, PS4, Xbox One
Reviewed on: PS4
Genre: Fighter, RPG
Players: Single Player, 1-
Written by Whistler 24th September 2017
Ever since the age of 6 when I somehow ended up managing to have a family member rent out Street Fighter the animated series, me and my friends would play out the whole journey to become martial artists (at least when we weren't playing TMNT or Power Rangers). But the concept of the warrior’s path, the journey of a fighter traveling to master the art of fighting has always seemed just perfect for a video game. So needless to say when indie gaming juggernaut publisher Devolver Digital announced Sloclap’s fighting Action RPG I was certainly intrigued to say the least.
As you enter the lifeless world of Absolver you’re met with one goal, to wander the dying world as you train your fighting prowess and defeat the marked ones in order to gain the title of Absolver. You’ll quickly discover the title’s focus is aimed solely on it’s visceral combat. Straight out the gate, combat emulates that chess-
While creating your character you must choose one of three fighting schools, determining your initial choice of fighting moves and granting you a class based skill. Kahlt fighting style students can utilize an absorption technique, allowing them to take damage but without the stagger, creating openings for them to turn the tables and go on the offensive. Windfall students instead opt for fast strikes and can dodge on the spot while their foe tires themselves out. Though after you’ve set out you’re free to mix and match combos once you’ve acquired them.
Combat can be highly enjoyable as you cheer for each hit landed into your enemy and equally flinch with each strike that puts you closer to your character’s end. The satisfaction and feedback felt with every strike, kick and haymaker feel fantastic as each second weighs in heavily for every fight. That being said however, be prepared to put a lot of time into getting familiar with Absolver’s fighting system. Not only do you need to balance offense with defence due to the stamina gauge, but you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the stance ring that allows you to swap between four equipped movesets. Most attacks can even swap your stance allowing you to chain far more smoothly into several stances, however, you can honestly hamstring your moveset cause of this. I admire the flexibility on offer with the robust moveset customization, but the ‘Deck Editor’ feels far too clunky and only really worth it for those looking to play on a competitive level.
It also doesn’t help that new moves are rather sluggishly trickled out throughout the average playtime; they’re learned through dodging, blocking and repeatedly beating the masked fighters that litter the apocalyptic world. Using your class ability supposedly speeds up acquiring new moves but after grinding out tons of fighters while trying to find my next objective I barely learned any new moves to add to my combos.
The journey to become Absolver starts off solidly as you discover the ins and outs of this world’s challenges and especially thanks to the Co Op, but it quickly becomes all too clear that this is another overlong ‘tutorial’ for PVP. The AI’s competent enough but it often feels like difficult is artificially upped through just piling on multiple assailants given how much the combat is really suited to one-
In the end, Absolver feels like a fantastic concept as you refine your combat style with the world as your arena to become the ultimate Absolver. But in actuality it feels like a rough gem that’s missing something, something that elevates it above and captures that feeling of the warrior’s journey. It’s almost painfully amnesiac in terms of content, bereft of story and lore that ultimately makes the journey feel worthless. Absolver is sure to be divisive, it’s PVP can be fantastic especially with the ability to create a fighting school of your very own (working somewhat as the game’s equivalent to a clan). While the appeal is very niche Absolver can be fun it feels like it focuses too much on its combat mechanics while ignoring everything else and doesn’t even really make a big deal out of its multiplayer elements.
Great deal of depth to combat,
Has plenty of PVP potential,
PVE feels underdeveloped,
Relies heavily on it’s combat alone,
Customizable combo system feels like too much of a hassle.
Absolver punches hard with a 6.5 out of 10.