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.