By Jordan Hall (ApocaRUFF), OnRPG Journalist
Absolver is the kung-fu masterpiece brought to us by Sloclap. There’s some controversy over whether or not the game is ‘good,’ with the title currently sitting at ‘Mixed’ Steam reviews, but there’s no denying that the combat system is something special. If you’re the type who enjoys Martial Arts, combat somewhat similar to Assassin’s Creed, and multiplayer mechanics that will remind you of Dark Souls, you’ll feel right at home in Absolver. If you’re the type who likes to be competitive in fighting games, you’ll especially feel welcomed, as player-versus-player duels are the end-game. Let’s take a closer look at Absolver and see how it stands up to review.
Cosmetic customization isn’t that diverse, but overall the game has a decent amount of choices. You can select the bare basics for your characters (for example, gender), but other than that you’re going to end up looking just about like everyone else. The gear is reflected on your character, which adds another layer of cosmetic customization, but there really isn’t a huge selection of gear and you’re going to end up wearing whatever gives you the best stats. Where the game shines, in terms of customization, is the ‘deck’ system that lets you determine your characters combos. It’s an in-depth system that is difficult to explain, so I’ll just give a basic overview.
You start off choosing a style of martial arts, with each having a specific focus for the type of combat. I feel there’s some imbalance, with certain styles definitely being better than others. As you progress your character, you’ll unlock moves that are added to your ‘deck’ that you can then use to create combos. I’ll explain the combo system more when I discuss combat under ‘Gameplay.’ This is part of the reason, I think, the game gets mixed reviews. It’s a system that is difficult to master.
Absolver is stunning. Somewhere between cartoony and realistic, with a bright and interesting color pallet. While the areas you can explore are fairly confined, you still get to view a lot of beautiful open vistas. Plus who doesn’t enjoy exploring beautiful ruins? I enjoy the colors in the game as they really make it easy to focus on the fighting and the natural brightness helps keep you from getting overwhelmed in larger fights. In short, Absolver looks amazing.
The controls in Absolver are so-so. If you’re using a keyboard and mouse, you’ll probably have a somewhat difficult time adapting, mostly due to the games use of ‘stances.’ If you have one available, I suggest using a PS3 controller (or any controller, really). The difference in the fun I had in the game once I started using my PS3 controller compared to when I used my keyboard and mouse is night and day. The only issue I had, really, was switching lock-targets, and that wasn’t an issue all that often. Other than that, the controls worked quite well.
The community in Absolver is large, and the way the multiplayer works makes the game rarely feel dead, even during off-hours. People that stick with the game tend to be very competitive and good at fighting games, so if you’re more into a casual experience, you may want to stay away. Of course, that’s not to say you can’t get your money’s worth of enjoyment as a casual player, it just might be more difficult. This is one of those rare games where I actually liked participating in the community.
Absolver is a pretty unique game that mixes elements from multiple genres. It’s got the adventure RPG style of gameplay you would find in something like Dark Souls, the in-depth player skill you would expect from a fighting game, the third-person camera and combat mechanics you would usually find in an action adventure game, plus a few other bits thrown in to round it out. Like I’ve mentioned earlier in the review, the game definitely favors those on the hardcore side of the spectrum of gamer. Why that is will become obvious soon.
There are essentially two parts to the game. The PVE aspect, which exists solely to develop your character, and the PVP aspect, which is essentially the end-game (for now… who knows what the future will hold). The story is actually interesting, though not as developed as it could be. You find yourself as a potential Absolver and you are sent out to overcome several boss NPCs. While you’re out doing this, you’ll have to fight through numerous lower tier NPCs to raise your levels so you can develop your skills and increase your stats. You’ll also get gear that can also increase stats (which isn’t always great, such as when it comes to weight or armor that increase cutting over bashing damage).
PVP has a few forms. While you’re playing in the ‘adventure’ portion of the game, players will randomly phase in (or you can choose to join them if they’re your friends). You can either work with these players or attack them. Other forms of PVP include the duel arena. Honestly, I wish the game had more going for it in terms of PVE, as I’m nowhere good enough to stand against most players (at least not yet). I’ve not had many fights where I consider myself to be evenly matched with my opponent. It’s either I win easily, or they do.
The combat system is actually quite nice. It feels a lot like Assassin’s Creed. You lock on to targets and can (usually) easily switch between them. While I don’t think it’s quite as smooth as Assassin’s Creed, I’m sure most people who have played both games will see the resemblance. Of course, Absolver has a focus on hand-to-hand combat. As a fan of Age of Wushu, Wuxia, and Kung-fu in general, I loved the take of martial arts found in this game.
The combo system is actually quite interesting. Like I mentioned in customization, you can pick-and-choose the individual moves that make up a combo. There are actually only two attack keys. Light and Heavy. However, depending on the ‘stance’ your character is currently in, and how you have your combos set up, your character will do different attacks. This system can be difficult to get a grip on, especially when your character is new and you don’t have many moves to choose from. There are also certainly some overpowered combos that can be created, but it offers enough room that skill can often overcome mechanics, though they both usually come hand-in-hand.
Absolver is the perfect game for those of us who enjoy fighting, adventuring, and intuitive combat systems. Sure, there are issues, but they are mostly restricted to personal preference rather than actual flaws. The game will hopefully receive more content updates, as right now it feels a bit light and repetitive. The multiplayer mechanics are also really interesting, though you don’t need them to be there to enjoy (or play) the game. Personally, I enjoyed my time in Absolver A LOT and do not regret my purchase at all.
- Features: 4/5 – Lots of interesting and innovative features.
- Customization: 3/5 – Not much, but the combo system is great.
- Graphics: 5/5 – It’s a personal preference, but I loved the way the game looks.
- Controls: 3/5 – Good, but perhaps more polish would be good.
- Community: 4/5 – It’s a good community, rare for a game with online elements.
Overall: 4/5 – One of the best games to come out of 2017 so far.