When it comes to modern video games development, there’s a real knack to making fights that feel right.
If your character hits too hard, enemies become trivial - and, in time, boring. Of course, if your attack are too soft or slow, fights can drag on and, again, become boring. Regardless of the genre, an engaging combat system is built as much on timing and execution as it is giving the player a healthy diet of choices, options and decisions.
Do I want to take it slow - and wait for the enemy to strike first - before unleashing a furious counterattack? Do I try for the opposite - forcing my foes onto the defensive and towards a nearby environmental hazard? Maybe I burn through my character’s limited pool of special abilities right out the gate or perhaps I save them for a critical moment where things look like they could go either way.
The best fights in Absolver are filled with choices like these.
Developed by Sloclap and published by the punk publishing house Devolver Digital, Absolver is a third-person brawler with RPG elements that sees you play as a chosen warrior transported to the cell-shaded and martial-art-obsessed land of Adal.
Once you make it through a brief tutorial, you are tasked with eliminating six Marked Ones and climbing the looming Tower of Adal in order to prove yourself worthy of the titular rank of “Absolver”. Over the course of your journey, you’ll learn new fighting styles and abilities, encounter fellow adventurers (called “Prospects”) on their own journeys and discover a little more about the world itself.
Absolver is an ode to the Kung-Fu epics of a bygone era and the compellingly stylish choreography that defined them - and it plays really, really well.
Dark Souls Meets Street Fighter
Absolver prides itself on its minimalist UI, mechanics and controls. Left click for a fast attack, right click for a slower, heavier hit. Upon this foundation, however, plenty of additional rules and specializations quickly pile up.
It’s a rare and unlikely delight to find combat that both looks and feels this good. More impressive still, is how effectively Absolver is able hide the depth of the mechanics underpinning it. It’s one of those games where you feel like there’s always more to learn, if you’re willing to put in the time.
Right out the gate, you get to customize your character’s appearance, name, gender and fighting style. ‘Forsaken’ players are the most aggressive and able to parry incoming attacks. ‘Windfall’ players are more agility-focused and all about dodging potential damage. Last but not least, ‘Kahlt’ falls somewhere in the middle by relying on a combination of strength and speed to absorb incoming blows.