Parisian studio, Sloclap’s debut title, Absolver is a melee combat game set in a beautifully-realised land, with more than a hint of Dark Souls about it.
The first time I tried Absolver, it was just a curious dabble. I often do it. When I’m supposed to be finishing off the review for one game, another bit of review code arrives, and I just can’t help myself but to take a look.
First impressions were good, surprisingly good. I love a game that takes a chance with its art style and Absolver does just that- even if I’ve seen a similar look before in Fumito Ueda’s long-in-gestation, The Last Guardian.
The graphics are simple but with a beautiful painterly style. The uncluttered visual allow you to focus on the melee combat that drives the game.
Absolver has an easy to use combat mechanic, upgradable skills and even deck-based attack customisation. I had a lot of fun during my first cheeky few hours.
And then it was back to the fantastic Madden NFL 18.
I was looking forward to returning to Absolver. When I did, however, I had little clue of where I was supposed to go or what I was doing. This is a game that requires your continued attention, else your muscle memory will forget how to best play it.
The game is set among the ruins of the ancient Adal city of Raslan. It’s not a huge open world, but it is full nooks and crannies to uncover and areas to unlock. The aim of the game is to progress, via training, sparring, combat, and exploration from Prospect to Absolver.
Apart from a tutorial section that explains the basics of the game – the four stances, the main attack, alternative attack and blocking, you are on your own. It’s not a case of remembering combos, like Street Fighter, it’s about chaining attacks using a unique deck system.
Scattered about the game world are opponents of varying skill for you to fight. Whilst you can play offline solo, the game is designed to be played online. Encountering other players gives you the choice to engage in some friending sparing or first to the death. Up to three players can join together for PvE gameplay, each learning moves from each other.
For a game that appears so simple, Absolver has hidden depths. I mentioned Dark Souls at the beginning, and whilst there isn’t the complex inventory management of FromSoftware’s hardcore fantasy series, the combat mechanics are just as deep and satisfying.
Your masked characters combat moves are determined by a move deck. Fighting new foes adds new moves to your deck and the opportunity to earn skill point that can be spend improving your character. As well as collecting moves, you also pick up new items of clothing to better protect you and even weapons.
Absolver is an impressive first game for Sloclap. At times I felt it was a little style over substance, and I got annoyed getting lost in the world after a break. But it looks fantastic. Dark Souls and fight game fans looking for something a bit unique ought to take a look.
Released: September 2017
Platforms: PC (Windows 10)