Absolver: Unforgiving By Design

Absolver: Unforgiving By Design

We diverged from our E3 adventure by stopping by publisher Devolver Digital’s distinct counter-culture installation in a parking lot across the street from the main festivities. Our target among the various Airstream trailers was developer Sloclap and their upcoming combat RPG, Absolver. We stepped into their cozy trailer and got some hands on time with the game while we chatted with the team at Sloclap.

Genre: Combat RPG
Developed by: Sloclap
Published by: Devolver Digital
Release date: 2017
Age rating: Pending
Platforms: PS4®, XBOXONE®, PC

Absolver Features

  • Fluid real-time combat using 4 different stances and a variety of combos in up to 3 on 3 battles.
  • Players will define their character’s playstyle by picking a combat style, a weapon of choice, and arranging attacks in their Combat Deck to design their unique and personal attack flow.
  • Players will seamlessly encounter others in the world. These moments are filled with tension as intentions to battle, trade, or befriend are never clear: trust is always a leap of faith.
  • Explore a rich and dynamic world including dedicated PvP battle arenas where champions will receive spoils of victory and progress in the ranks of the Absolvers, and PvE dungeons in which players cooperatively battle to retrieve rare loot and equipment from the depth of the Adal mines.

Absolver Gameplay Demo

Absolver is an online multiplayer combat RPG where players will square off to prove their fighting worth in joining an elite group of warriors known as Absolvers. The combat is Souls series inspired, but focuses even more on combat styles, customizing and chaining combos, as well as deep parrying, dodging feint and counter mechanics. Players earn new gear, weapons and items as they progress and either team up or challenge other players.

absolver 1

Our first steps into the demo were basic tutorial descriptions, as we learned the fundamentals of standard attacks, blocking, and dodging against non-hostile enemies. As we progressed we were shown how to parry, and how to equip and use skills and recovery items. Once we had honed the basics against some standard enemies, it was time for us to take the next grasshopper step into the game’s true depth.

absolver 4

Building a Style

Combat in Absolver is combo focused, and players will have a tremendous amount of freedom when designing a customized fighting style in an interface known as the Combat Deck. The game features a number of combat abilities which can be assigned to specific buttons, and these abilities are then chained together to form combos, but only if the player is reacting appropriately to the game’s visual cues. You can’t just mash a button several times to initiate a combo, you have to nail it’s timing in order to create the chain which leads to more powerful abilities. No two combos are alike as players can assign their abilities to these buttons in the orders they wish. Further augmenting this Combat Deck are the different battle stances which impact the positioning of the player during abilities and combos.  If this sounds complex, it is and that’s where the game really begins to claim its own unique identity. No two players will have the same fighting style as the sheer possibilities of combinations in the Combat Deck are limitless.

You can’t just mash a button several times to initiate a combo, you have to nail it’s timing.

Once mastery of self is complete, mastery of others begins. Feints, cancels, counters and dashes all become the language of interaction when you spar against another player. You put your unique style into action, employing your carefully crafted combos, while reacting and adjusting to your enemy’s style of assault. You show, you conceal, you anticipate and parry, dash and counter. It is simply not enough to focus on what you are doing, you must also carefully study what your enemy is doing. When all of these elements come together, the combat becomes almost transcendent and leaves the Souls series behind in terms of intricacy, becoming an almost digital martial art that is as complicated as the combatants want it to be.

absolver 2

Accessorizing

Weapons can be equipped, but they are bonuses and not defining items. The player’s moveset is determined by their selections in the Combat Deck and not by the weapons they are wielding. There will be a variety of weapons in the game, but over reliance on them will result in being easily disarmed, leaving players open to having these weapons used against them. Skills are also present and add an additional layer of strategy. The skill we were able to use in the demo was a shockwave, which sent out a low damage area of effect concussive wave which pushed enemies back, very similar to Emit Force in the Souls series. Gear in the demo was only cosmetic, however Sloclap plans to integrate an attribute/stat system into gear during future development.

It is simply not enough to focus on what you are doing, you must also carefully study what your enemy is doing

The game world will feature both PvP and PvE experiences via dedicated PvP arenas and cooperative PvE dungeons. A word of warning to those cooperators in the Souls series accustomed to letting their abilities fly without regard for their surroundings: friendly fire is present. So if you think you’re the second coming of Bruce Lee and lose track of your partners in a flair of showboating you’re just as likely to kick their teeth in as an enemy’s. This adds yet another layer of attentiveness that pulls the player deeply into every moment. As the demo was primarily a combat focused experience, we were not able to get a sense of the game’s story or structure and look forward to seeing how the game will set up these experiences in future showings.

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After the demo was complete, we exited the trailer and stepped squinting into the glaring sun quite impressed with the involved mechanics we had just witnessed. The game will release some time in 2017 for PC and consoles and while there is still much that hasn’t been shown, we are very excited to see more. In it’s early state, the game has already shown the potential to evolve into something that will dominate the thoughts of PvP enthusiasts for hours, days and months.


Visit the Absolver Wiki

More from E3 2016

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Editor at Fextralife. I look for the substantial in gaming and I try to connect video games to the emotions and stories they elicit. I love all things culture and history and have an odd fondness for the planet Jupiter. I think my dogs are pretty awesome too.

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7 comments on “Absolver: Unforgiving By Design”

  1. Avatar Shadeon says:

    Loving all these new upcomming games with Souls inspiration, for w/e reason I can’t get enough of this stuff.

  2. Avatar Emergence says:

    Well, when you find the alchemical formula for gold, you don’t just walk away from it.

  3. Avatar Daos_Strange says:

    This game looks amazing and I can’t wait to play it. I’m a little confused at to why the article lists the combat as "souls-series inspired" though. To me, the combat resembles a mashup of fighters like Tekken and Soul Caliber. Maybe it’s just me, but I fail to see the souls inspiration in this game.

  4. Avatar HazamaOuroborous says:

    The combat has a strong God Hand inspiration, I’d say, given the whole "customize your combos" kinda thing.
    Maybe it’s souls-ish because it’s all about timing and being methodical? I dunno O_O

  5. Avatar Emergence says:

    Because it’s the exact same perspective and positioning of Souls. You read the opponent, circle with a lock on, and use dodge and parry the same way you do in Souls and Bloodborne. The skills even match up to pvp spells like WoG. There are of course modifications to the formula, but an experienced Souls player is going to pick this game up and have an intuitive edge over someone who has not played Souls.

  6. Avatar Sidney_Losstarot says:

    Seems interesting…..with a unique style…..

  7. Avatar EldritchImagination says:

    I don’t know why, but while reading the features, and reading "souls-like", these things came to mind:
    Combat deck meta
    friendly fire trolling
    and a literal ocean’s worth of hatemail.


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