Disclaimer, this isn’t a review by any means.
I played the game a fair bit when it came out and decided to pick it back up now that I think I’ve played Dark Souls into the ground aside from 3’s PvP of course. Watching my favorite Smashers and following different scenes in the FGC gets me mad hype and I’m always looking for a way to, you know, GET INVOLVED AS A PLAYER rather than being a sideline eyeballer. I enjoy doing that immensely but to be just that isn’t me.
Anyways, Absolver was crazy fun when I first played it; crazy hard though, I wouldn’t good at it. I quite honestly probably put more effort into taking various screenshots of the game than ever learning its intricacies — what can I say, it’s a very beautiful game.
What I do remember fondly of it was its completely open world gated by raw player knowledge and execution. You gotta ask yourself, ‘Do I have the skill to take on the enemies here?’ rather than, ‘Do I have the item I need here?”. I really like that about games, that aspect kind of feels like a Metroidvania but the skills needed to progress are real life skill! Then you go back and play the game after beating it and everything’s a little bit easier but you can set goals as a player to keep the game engaging. I wish more games did that! Shouts to Decay of Logos, coming out for Switch. That game seems kind of similar in that regard.
I watched a few streamers play Absolver the first few weeks after it launched as well but the one I can remember the best was Kenzo. I definitely recommend checking his channel out. Fighting games are definitely his forte plus this was kind of peak For Honor time so a lot of people were ready for more approachable 3D fighters. When Kenzo would pick up the sticks, it seemed like he would whoop everyone he fought. This helped me realize that despite the unorthodox moveset development the player chooses, there really are good and bad options setting up for a potential tier list and optimization of gameplay! Did I mention the combat? Let’s get to that next.
Think of your character as an avatar for a ‘deck’ you build. Things aren’t random, despite the card analogy, as the player gets to choose from a move pool that cycles based on what ever stance the player is in. Some moves transition to a different stance after they’ve been played, others don’t, letting the player essentially build their own combos .
What intimidated me the most about this fighting system was how many defensive options exist. You can sidestep like in Tekken, spotdodge/parry like in Smash, of course react to moves and perform quick dodges that are super fast but hard to pull off, block, you name it. I tried to learn to react and quick dodge moves but that proved especially difficult — useful but difficult so when I got to tougher fights in the game, I bailed, but if you’re willing to put in the time and be a frame data analyst, I’m sure you could put together a killer deck in no time.
PvP has an invasion system like in Dark Souls but there’s always arenas you can choose to duel people in if traditional PvP is more your jam. Every enemy is kind of like a tutorial for a very specific match up so you can use end game to try and learn more moves, fight these NPCs or straight up fight people online. Just like Dark Souls again, it’s entirely possible to miss moves in the world and essentially make it impossible to go back and learn without starting a new character. Thankfully, the campaign is about four hours long and it seems like that could be shorted to significantly less than that if you’re just looking to make a specific build for online.
So yea, that’s what I know about Absolver! I recommend picking it up soon if you’re remotely interested because the devs just launched a huge free expansion pack and the game is 50% because of it. You can find it on PS4/PC and on Xbox One soon. The game is pretty built for Souls-like and fighting game players and I think that has something to do with the ‘mixed’ reviews on Steam. If you spend even a second learning about the game online, you’ll notice the people who like this game *really* like it. Oh, I guess a deeper ‘Oni’ would be a good comparison too. Check that game out too, it’s abandonware aka free af, and has a very very active modding community keeping the game super alive. The only thing it’s missing is move customization and PvP and that game would seriously have a very rich mainstream scene.
Sloclap, the devs, are really fun to follow on Twitter, check em out!