Absolver Review: Fists of Fury
Greg Johnson / Aug 29th, 2017 No Comments
Absolver is intense, complex and challenging, but it is also unique and extremely rewarding. The third-person martial arts game brilliantly weaves RPG elements and customization into its fast-action fisticuffs. Fights can look beautifully choreographed and immersive, and its online multiplayer mode takes this experience to new levels.
Ruins of Adal
Players begin their journey in the ruined city of Raslan, part of the once glorious Adal empire. The world is in chaos as warring martial arts factions are battling for power, but only one can keep the peace and restore balance: the Absolvers.
The lore of Absolver is observed rather than told. Bits of plot are slowly fed to players, but this game is mostly about kicking ass. The beautiful ruinous setting shows the devastation that has happened to a once thriving land, while interactions with NPCs fill in some of the details. The narrative of Absolver is perfectly paced and rewarding to unravel.
Becoming an Absolver is the end-game. Players begin as students and must work their way up the ranks by mastering their skills. But you are not the first one to try to take on this challenge. Many have sought to become Absolvers, but they have failed and were driven mad by their defeats. The bulk of the enemies in the game are these former Absolver prospects.
The game’s combat is anchored by a deep RPG system that allows you to customize your character’s fighting style. At the beginning of the game, players choose one of three martial arts paths dictating a foundation for their fighting style. However, players are not locked into this choice. The RPG aspects of the game allow players to use skill points on any category and switch to different schools of martial arts.
If you want a fast character who recovers special abilities quickly, consider spending points on Dexterity and Will. Maximize your Strength and Vitality and you’ll be boxing like Mike Tyson in no time.
Fights are vicious and intense. Combat is simple on the surface — it only uses two buttons (one to perform light attacks and one for special attacks) — but there are four different fighting stances you can switch between mid-fight that complicate things.
Your stance dictates your move. If you are in a lower fighting stance, you will throw more body blows. A quick switch of your stance and the same button press can result in an uppercut to the face of your opponent. Your stance will typically change automatically after every move, which seems counterintuitive but actually helps you pull off combos if you are aware.
Players can customize each stance with the attacks they wish to use. If you want to be able to pull off three quick punches in an upright stance, it is easy to set that up.
Gear, which is dropped by defeated enemies and can also be found randomly throughout the game, can also be customized. Gear slots for head, chest and more can be used to create a badass-looking character.
All of this customization can make Absolver insanely complicated. Like the plot, Absolver forces players to figure things out on their own. It is best to experiment with different attacks and skills to create a character who uses a fighting style that matches your abilities. The learning curve is steep and unforgiving, but Absolver provides players with enough resources and practice to master its combat.
One of the most interesting aspects of Absolver is the online gameplay. There are no matchmaking lobbies where players have to wait for others to join. Instead, you simply explore the world of Absolver and have random encounters with others who are playing online.
Areas of Raslan are populated with other players, and how you choose to interact with those players is up to you. You can attack each other, hold friendly duels or take on challenges of the game together to get past particularly difficult areas.
It will be fun to watch how the community acts in Absolver. Will there be complete chaos as everyone fights each other? Will online groups start to form their own warring factions? The experience you have with Absolver’s online play could be different each time you enter Raslan.
Additionally, a one-on-one fight to the death mode is available to play for those who want to stick to the pure business of martial arts, and developers are promising a three-on-three version will be added at a later date.
Absolver is like a classic kung-fu movie. Fights are visceral and intense. There is a lot of entertaining ass kicking, while the plot and dialogue is secondary (or tertiary). The RPG and fighting systems are complex and there is a steep learning curve, but mastering the moves and pulling off devastating combos is extremely rewarding.
But, unlike a film, you can control what happens in Absolver. The open-world multiplayer environment provides for a lot of unique experiences that will be produced by the community. You never know what may happen when you enter a world inhabited by other players.
Absolver is available now for PlayStation 4 and PC.
Absolver was reviewed on PC using a code for the game provided by the publisher.
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