It should be known that I think of myself as an intermediate gamer. I’m not really good at games, but when one has a compelling storyline you can find me trying to finish it 100%. However, I never play above the ‘easy’ game setting.
Why? Because I only care about the story. Which, unfortunately, Absolver has very little of.
Absolver is an RPG with the sole focus of martial arts. It involves an intricate gameplay experience where the player can customise the controls to their liking in order to create the best possible combos. By doing this, the player makes their way through different battles to make their way from being a lowly Prospect to an Absolver.
And that’s the unfortunate downfall of this world. The story is split between different AI that share the world’s, Raslan’s, history with mere text. Although not such a difficult thing to navigate in Pokemon, these texts continue at their own whim. In most cases, this cripples the small amount of story there is to a snail’s pace, and with place names thrown into the mix, the player will find it hard to understand what they are being told.
What’s more, a lot of the gameplay is left for the player to figure out themselves. As the player defeats more and more bosses, they acquire more skills. These skills are activated by the directional pad, but at no point during gameplay is there an explanation of the ‘manner’ or ‘energy’ system attached to it. The instructions are left in the meditation/ tutorial space for the player to find. Or, like me, you figure it out by wondering why there are glowing gems attached to your avatar’s butt.
There are multiple things to learn in the meditation space, but the presentation of it is less than helpful. There are no video tutorials, and very little has been integrated into the story. So the player is left to read an array of instructions, one of which is ‘do not spam’.
However, the freedom that stretches beyond making your own avatar to control what attack will follow is incredible. The concept is remarkably put into play and will create a fantastic gameplay experience for skilled gamers.
And there’s the other problem: this game is really just for the skilled gamer. There are no levels of difficulty, which can lead to consistent dying as you try to figure out the game. Unlike the smooth, timed attacks of the Batman: Arkham series, this game has the player doing the timing themselves and choosing everything from the avatar’s stance to what direction to block.
Well, at least that’s what my avatar’s fighting style was.
There were multiple styles to choose from which, again, allows for a great amount of freedom. However, the blocking that was meant to be the special attribute to my style was too difficult to apply. I would have liked to practice this in the meditation space, but these blocks require an attacking opponent. And the AI in the meditation space does not attack.
This defence mechanism also brought about another problem due to its use of the right analogue stick. As with many other games, the player can move their avatar with the left analogue stick and change the game view with the right. However, as soon as your avatar is in combat, the right analogue stick’s usage is changed to directional blocking and this really limits the player’s view of the gameplay.
The online gameplay doesn’t give that much more to the playing experience either. There is the option to continue through the same story mode with another player, although from what I have experienced the alliance doesn’t last long. However, defeating the same boss with someone rather than alone does create a better sense of achievement.
There is also the option of combat trials where the player is put into the arena against someone else. The trials are best out of three and aren’t really that much more spectacular than fighting another player in the normal gameplay map. Yes, there is the promise no one will interrupt the fight, but there is an expectation of something more that is not met.
Which is a sentiment I hold over the whole game. Absolver has created a fantastic combat system that allows for remarkable freedom, but there is a greater expectation that hasn’t been met. From the get go, the difficulty of this game limits its potential players, and with a non-responsive training AI, it’s hard for intermediate gamers to properly learn the gameplay. Its story is nearly non-existent, and at times the intricate gameplay gets in the way of comfortably seeing your opponent. Certainly, the control system will create an interesting baseline for future games, but as it is at the expense of everything else, Absolver is not a game that I can recommend.