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Absolver

Absolver is an online multiplayer combat experience where players are placed behind the mask of a Prospect by the ever-present Guides, the new rulers of the fallen Adal Empire that will determine your worth in joining their elite corps of enforcers. Prospects will wander forsaken lands, encountering others to learn new combat skills, acquire weapons and armor, and engage in solo duels and intense three-on-three battles.
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Game Discussion

Review by Anonymous
Review from Steam

this game makes you feel like jackie chan til you realize every other mf is also jackie chan

Review from Steam

This game walked so Sifu could run

Review from Steam

This is a soft recommendation from me. It's a game that I truly want to love, but it falls short overall. If you love fighting games or martial arts in general, this could very well be a treat. Fighting games are deceptively cerebral, and this hones in on that aspect and draws it out with its design.
I'll start with the moment that really made me appreciate this game. I had queued up for 1v1 duels, and matched with someone who seemed to be about my skill level. At first I thought he was better than me since every time I tested his defenses he got the better end of the exchange, and I lost the first few rounds. But then I realized he had a habit of attacking my right side so I managed to pull ahead once I learned how to bait him into a trap and lock him into my own combo. He turned it around though on the next match because he suddenly began to change the follow up to the attack sequence I was used to, turning my own trap against me. It occurred to me that this mix up was heavy on his stamina drain and the timing wasn't too bad to use my defensive move on, so I just played defensively and retaliated when his stamina drained. This went on and on, and we played about 20 matches overall. Each match is first to 3 wins, and most of our matches were 4-5 rounds. I normally don't like fighting games. I normally don't like PvP. But this game helped me understand why people are into it.
Whenever I faced an opponent that was around my skill level, that experience I just shared was how it felt: a fascinating and thrilling back and forth as we both learned how we played and picked apart weaknesses in our style. It rewarded observation more than it did timing and reflexes, and it was a joy to play.
This is in large part due to how the game has designed its movesets. You have a combat deck, which is 4 stances (front left, front right, back left, back right), and 4 "alternates." Unlike most fighting games with pre-designed movesets, you hand build your combat deck. The different moves vary on if they're high/low, left/right, vertical/horizontal, fast/slight and have different animations/frame data and some have modifiers (like hyper armor, breaking, etc.). Each move also ends in a different stance, so you can use certain moves to flow into a different sequence. There are a lot of ways to mix things up and it's interesting to come up with and/or master a deck.
Ultimately what this means is when you encounter an opponent, you have no idea what they can do. This is where the game forces you to be observant and turns fighting into what feels like a real time chess match.
Quick reflexes are certainly a boon, but not as valuable as the ability to read and recognize your opponent's deck and their habits through observation. If you know their deck like the back of your hand it's much easier to win. If you know how they like to use the deck, then doubly so. The game also cleverly clues you into this general mindset by making it so that moves need to be learned by successfully defending against them, either vs players or vs NPCs.
The game is also just beautiful. Its style makes me think of a westernized Wuxia setting, and though the story isn't particularly deep the game tells enough through its environment to make you wonder what happened and why. Wandering the dilapidated remains of what once was a grand city is oddly calming. The animations are also satisfying. Your avatar feels good to watch, and they captured the grace and power in the movements. It was also interesting seeing the Faejin style for the first time, because it immediately evoked glee from recognizing Bruce Lee's distinctive movement and posture. The sounds of combat are delightfully solid, and it scratches some deeply recessed part of my lizard brain hearing a bone crunching combo. The music is subtle, but distinctive enough to give you a sense of tension in combat, and calm during the interludes. The game oozes charm. The people who made this poured passion and effort into this, and it shows.
But I have to go back to the reasons why I rate this as a "soft" recommend. It won't have much longevity for most people. You might get mileage out of this game for its singleplayer, but I can see that for a lot of people it wouldn't be appealing. There's not much content, and if you weren't interested in PvP you only have learning all of the moves/combat styles, beating the higher level versions of boss fights, and Downfall to set your sights on. And the only way that can only be done is by fighting.
PvP gives more experience than fighting the AI, but most of who you face are seasoned veterans. The greatest weakness of this game is the disparity between skill levels. It was rare to find someone who was a good match. It was most often that they won too easily, or were too easy to win against. As much as I enjoyed the "equal" battles, they were so few and far between that I lost interest overall. On the other hand, fighting the AI is monotonous because they're not really adaptive and after a while they're uninteresting to fight. At least a player with less skill/experience would try different things.
Additionally, if you're trying to do just PvE you're just wandering the streets over and over again just to farm spawns. Some people might be put off by the difficulty of matchmaking for Downfall (a coop mode), but you can probably find someone if you join the Absolver discord. The community was great when I participated, and I can't imagine that with how welcoming it was that it would be any worse now.
Overall, I think playing the game is a worthwhile experience, but you might not feel fully satisfied by the end of it. There was a lamentable feeling when I realized that it wasn't worth it for me to put the time into this game. I wanted to love the game, but as fun as it was to have great fights, it wasn't enough for me to overcome the game's issues. A lot of people can enjoy this game: the combat mechanics are fluid and building a deck is interesting and lets you play with what you like. There's not much of a story but its aesthetics are fantastic and unique. However, it's questionable to me if people can get their money's worth from this game. I certainly did, but I can't say with great confidence that it would be the case for most people.
I recommend it overall, but there are some hurdles to consider.

Review from Steam

just recently played this in 2021 with a friend.
while a bit short, the fighting and customization of styles is some of the most fun ive had with a fighting game.
just one question...
Can i haz Absolver 2 piz?

Review from Steam

I think there are, or will be very few games like Absolver for me. Which is a damn shame. Absolver is very good. There is no game like Absolver. It's a game that actually prompted me to make a fucking video essay about how much I love it, 4 years later.
Here's a quick list of things that make Absolver damn good:
1. Accessible two-button fighting controls
2. Customizable movesets
3. Fashion, fashion, fashion
4. The game is like 90% neutral play (you always have options in a fight)
5. 3v3s are chaotic fun (though they take coordination to set up)
5. Small community committed to helping new players improve
I've essentially played for 2000 hours and I'm probably one of the last remaining "active" oldheads that has seen Absolver since August of 2017. This game is very good. It's an accessible, essentially "two-button" fighting game with good sound design and a minor PvE element. That's the context you should approach this game with.
If you like PvE more than PvP, buy this game when it's on sale. Otherwise, buy this game, get into CTs and find someone to beat your ass and tell you why it happened.
This game is incredibly beautiful with a community of "tryhards" that are actually people who are always more than willing to tell you how to play better. Absolver is a game with flaws and I won't pretend it's not, but there's a reason that I still play this game into its fifth year: It's an original take on a fighting formula that focuses less on "character matchups" and more on "on-the-fly" adaptations against your opponents moveset and powers.
I'll tell you what I tell everyone until I'm blue in the face: PLAY ABSOLVER.

Review from Steam

Join the Absolver official Discord here:
July 2017, release day: Peak player count is 18,000. Connection issues, clothing is undyeable, and some people are reaching the final area in a few hours. But the game is fun! The combat is new, exciting, and difficult to master. There are four different styles. There are light attacks, strong attacks, spin kicks, drunken fists, one-inch punches, everything from every martial arts movie I’ve ever watched is here. But I need to learn them first.
September 2017: Player count is around 500. “Dead game” status. I stick with it, try to gather moves by blocking or dodging NPCs or other players. I explore the game’s varied, but small areas. These areas are connected to each other and sprinkled with NPCs, items, and mini bosses. There’s a major boss at the end of two or three areas. My combat deck isn’t great, but I do my best and I can beat the three bosses. I become an Absolver and get my cloak. My Combat Trial level needs to be 50 to refight the bosses and earn loot disks for gear and money. That requires PvP. I give it a shot.
October 2017: I’m getting my ass handed to me, but I win a little bit. The drunken style, Stagger, feels good and I like the dodge spin. There’s a Halloween update with some new masks. I do that and crawl my way to level 50. People are getting used to Stagger and punishing me in matches. I hit a wall and see the endless expanse of skill between me and my opponents, and how many hours it’ll take to get cooler clothes. I put the game down.
September 2018: There’s a new Downfall update, a mode where you delve into roguelike areas and defeat a bunch of guys and bosses. Finding people for it is hard so I try it solo. I’m not successful. There’s a new style! But the computer is beating the shit out of me. I see the skill gap. I’m missing moves that I’d like to collect. I put the game down again.
April 2022: I’m determined to get the rest of those moves and beat the hard bosses. Player count is around 60, but people are dutifully doing PvP and running around areas. Using the old combat deck, wins are rare occurrences. Grandmasters honed by thousands of battles beat me into submission. I clutch on to the single CT point I get with every loss like a homeless person searching a dumpster. Hardcore players destroy me like meat is back on the menu and I’m their next meal. As my opponent smashes his foot into my face, I notice how his moves flow together much better than mine.
After dragging my broken body back to Guidance Bridge, I join his school (Celadon, ID#41727). The move set is weird, but I have nothing to lose, so I relearn the art of combat. Instead of spamming the dodge, I slow it down, block, look for patterns. After many matches, I can throw the other guy off balance with a perfectly timed kick. I still lose a ton, but I win some too. I write down other people’s schools and search for unknown moves. I do runs through the Tower of Adal, parrying NPCs like I’m striking a rock one thousand times. I can buy a new outfit with the currency I’ve accumulated, so I don’t feel like a street fighter covered in rags. In PvP, I recognize people I’ve beaten before and who have beaten me. Combat is a dance. I still lose more than I win, but it doesn’t feel hopeless.
I feel confident enough to beat the bosses on their hardest level, and I do. I give Downfall another go by myself. The boss of the first area is double my size, but he doesn’t understand. I’m Bruce Lee. I’m Jackie Chan, Jet Li, and Donnie Yen. I am reborn. I take him to church and grind my Gleam level to unlock more clothes. I realize I’m having more fun now than I had at launch.
Verdict: I can’t say I’ll ever be good at this game. I’m sure my record in PvP is abysmal. But I enjoy the process, the customization, the art style, and the lore. If you’re prepared to get absolutely bodied for several hours, you too can make progress. If you have two or more dedicated friends who are willing to swap moves, even better. But don’t expect an expansive PvE experience with PvP on the side. This is at least 75% PvP with NPC fighters as a topping.
I’m looking forward to Sloclap’s next game.

Review from Steam

This is objectively the best fighting game ever, and I think it's the best game ever. I got it for free on PS4, but bought it on PC for myself and others. The creativity in building your combat deck, and when two unique decks face off. . . the dynamics of combat that are possible cannot be found in any other game. Small player base; don't be discouraged when you get your head caved in by a veteran. Don't take the easy way. You can rely on powers and spamming fast attacks, or you can be patient enough to master prediction, timing, misdirection, mind games, and perfection of style.