De­vel­oper Slo­clap Pub­lisher De­volver Dig­i­tal For­mat PC, PS4 Re­lease Au­gust 29


We’ve played Ab­solver a few times now, and each time we do, we’re a shade more in­trigued. This on­line, mar­tial-arts, fight­ing-game RPG cer­tainly doesn’t lack com­plex­ity: brawling your way through its world takes myr­iad forms of skill. There’s the twitch-based kind, based on rhythm and tim­ing as you dodge, feint and parry foes. Prepa­ra­tion is im­por­tant, too: you grad­u­ally learn new moves from spar­ring with others, build­ing them into op­ti­mal, beau­ti­ful ‘decks’ of com­bos and fight­ing styles. And there’s a men­tal skill in­volved, a bal­letic dance of mem­o­ri­sa­tion and im­pro­vi­sa­tion, as you chain and switch be­tween com­bos, weapons and styles.

And we re­ally do mean dance. We try the new drunken box­ing style dur­ing a one-on-one duel with an­other player, our avatar’s woozy stag­ger im­me­di­ately call­ing to mind early Jackie Chan. There’s no parry with this style, so we cheer­fully abuse a tricksy feint that throws us back­ward but ends with a for­ward kick – un­til we’re even­tu­ally fig­ured out, any­way. This in­tense one-on-one fight is even more en­joy­able than

Ab­solver’s im­promptu open-world scraps. But at one point, we’re beaten into a cor­ner of the barn-like arena, and get­ting out of the spot seems im­pos­si­ble against an op­po­nent who times their blows per­fectly.

It’s con­cern­ing that Ab­solver’s en­vi­ron­ments might end up im­ped­ing a fair fight ( al­though we’re mol­li­fied in the fi­nal round when we force-blast our foe, us­ing our charged spe­cial me­ter, over an edge for the win). Whether it’ll be con­sid­ered a truly pure fight­ing ex­pe­ri­ence or a par­tic­u­larly spe­cial­ist RPG re­mains to be seen. But not for long: re­lease is just weeks away.

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