The Depth of ‘Absolver’ Might Swallow You Whole Before You Even Throw a Punch: E3 2017 Preview
Developed by Sloclap Digital, Absolver is a fighting game that elevates the discourse beyond traditional video game combat. Based in some very real techniques actually practiced around the world today, Absolver eschews the fantastical in favor of a more thoughtful and honest approach to martial arts. In fact, it's so authentic to all the skills many Sloclap members have actually learned over the years that its customization options might overwhelm even some of the most devout practitioners. Depth of combat is just one of the many reasons Absolver is going to change the way we play fighting games.
We played through a brief fight with another member of the press to get a feel for all the combat options Absolver has set at default. Every character has four different stances, and each stance has three different standard attacks and one alternate. All of your attacks have varying reaches, power, speeds, and landing positions. That's true for barehanded fighting as it is for gloved and weaponized combat, and that's without considering feints and combo sequences you can alter mid-strike. Pulling any of these things off isn't hard, as everything is mapped so intuitively, it feels right and proper the moment you pick up a controller. It's rather incredible how much Sloclap's team has been able to incorporate with such simple controls.
Having the memory to recall what does what, and when it does it, is another matter entirely. That's where the art of these practices comes into play. Absolver is a combat game that takes much more than just the animations and moves from numerous martial arts; it also takes into account the skill it takes to master using these techniques. No qualified martial artist would ever take one look at an instruction manual and believe they were capable of matching up with a devoted student. They'd know that practice doesn't only make perfect, it also shows you a window into the things you excel at and those arts in which you are less proficient.
Everything you learn across your time in Absolver's world can be applied to your knowledge base. Within this catalog, for lack of a better term, you can access any and all of your stances and moves to develop a style that's suited better to your tastes. At first you'll only have a specific selection of moves to pick from, but as you spend more time fighting NPCs or other people, your created avatar will bring those new skills home. It's then up to you do decide whether or not that leaping kick from an orthodox stance is worth experimenting with. You noticed that it linked perfectly to a back-facing rear elbow you already knew, and linking the two together in combat may give you the advantage you need the next time out.
There are a staggering number of options to customizing your combat preferences and styles, and it's quite easy to get lost in Absolver's menus trying to ascertain the best combinations you can muster. Testing them outside of the "real world" in this menu also lets you learn the practicality of all the mixing and matching, and whether or not the power of a combo is worth losing some speed. It also helps teach you were the proper feints can be so you can adapt on the fly to a guarding or attacking foe, giving them just a tease to set them up with a counter. Absolver's custom martial studies are a lot like being part of an actual school, only the training is always free, and there's no limit to the number of classes you can take.
We didn't spend much time in actual combat, but when we did, we noticed everything that Absolver's developers said we would. There were some great animations, and the physicality of these characters would rival even the best sports simulations. Combined with its epic library of martial arts, Absolver is very much a fighting game that requires you to think differently. After so many years of fighting games that offered a fixed perspective, Absolver is just the change of pace we're looking for.
Absolver will be available on PlayStation 4 and PC on August 29.
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