Oh, the Prospects – An Absolver Review
Devolver Digital has produced a plethora household titles. From Hotline Miami, both Shadow Warrior and its sequel, The Talos Principle and many more, the publisher has been prolific in its production. Its latest from Sloclap, is Absolver, an online brawler, of sorts. With a unique art style and hundreds of actual martial arts moves to collect and practice, the game will likely gather quite the cult following. I know I have enjoyed my time. More after the jump!
As previously stated, Absolver is generally classified as an online brawler. It’s a blanket classification that truthfully doesn’t fit the game at all. It’s more than just fighting; It’s a learning curve. It’s patience. It’s competition in the purest form. Absolver braves to set itself apart from its brawler brethren, rising above a simple 1v1 with over-the-top movesets, in favor for true-to-life martial arts, honor, and learning.
You wonder why I keep referencing learning; the game’s largest mechanic is the combat deck. It is where players find and customize their katas, or patterns of moves. It is where players can see how close–or far–they are from learning specific moves. It is honestly where the majority of the game is played. By that, I mean one thing: a player’s success is derived from how powerful their respective combat deck is, and how well they know it. In my time with the game, I have fought players leveled much higher than I, where I veritably mopped the floor with their faces, and vice-versa. It all depends on how well you know your deck.
It’s worth noting that each of the four combat styles has its own deck to master, as well as its own style and special abilities. For example, I started with Windfall, a style that focuses on movement and dexterity, and special dodge maneuver that slows the enemy’s attack and increases stamina regeneration if timed correctly. I learned # out of # of moves before I found Stagger style.
In order to learn attacks and increase your combat deck, one must either block, absorb (the special ability of the Kahlt style), parry (the special for the Forsaken style), or dodge (all styles allow a dodge maneuver, but only Windfall slows attacks and increases stamina). Blocking will only net a small percentage learned, while dodging and absorbing will grant the most.
Here is where it gets interesting; in order to learn another style, one must join its respective school. During my playthrough, I had to best Jinn Mesca–Stagger style’s reigning champion–to be allowed to join the Stagger style school. Once the school is joined, the combat deck is locked till you learn every attack for that style. It sounds confusing on paper, but once played, it is a fairly easy concept. The easiest way to learn new school attacks is 1v1, or as the game calls them, Combat Trials.
Once the player reaches level 30, he/she can create their own school; I have yet to do this because I have been playing Knack 2 and Destiny 2 instead. I will be doing it in the future.
All-in-all, these attributes comprise the meat of Absolver. The smaller mechanics, like the simple leveling system, tie in nicely, but it’s really about being the best of the best. Learning your combat deck for each style, simultaneously learning about yourself in the process.The art style is unique, and the soundtrack is very zen, the same way martial arts schools focus on thought as much as defense. Level design is twisting and maze-like and at times I found myself winding around the same track multiple times, but it felt good once I remembered how to get from A to B.
The network, however left a little to be desired. It isn’t exactly the fastest and players would lag when others entered the same area, but it was rectified quickly and I ceased having issues after the third day. I also am unsure how much content will be supported going forward, but I do look to the future with confirmed new styles, weapons and armor. When all is said and done, I give Absolver a