Combat is your art

Breaking down the Absolver Combat Overview trailer

Absolver is an online melee fighting game developed by Sloclap, an indie studio based out of France. They released a short trailer yesterday showcasing the combat — let’s break it down.

Combat style

“Each combat style improves specific character attributes, and comes with its own unique special ability.”

You can choose from three styles of combat:

  1. Forsaken — Balanced and powerful, Prospects (the player) can parry enemy attacks, briefly stunning their opponent.
  2. Kahlt — Strong and resistant, practitioners of the Kahlt method can absorb hits without being stunned or pushed back, and regain lost health if a counter attack is successful.
  3. Windfall — Students of the Windfall combat style will have greater dexterity and will. They can avoid enemy attacks, leaving the enemy open to a powerful counter.

So it looks like we have a balanced, offensive, and defensive style. Nothing too groundbreaking. This might matter if there’s a big difference between a stun (with Forsaken style) versus a counter (with the Kahlt and Windfall styles). Since Kahlt and Windfall are dependent on counters versus stuns, the follow up options for the respective action will determine what’s most effective.

Combat deck

“The combat deck is the list of attacks that a Prospect can use while fighting.”

  • There are four different stances that determine the orientation of the Prospect (how they are standing in relation to the enemy).
  • Attacks let you flow from one stance to another, while also letting you stay in the same one.
  • Your deck is highly customizable and you can learn new skills from the world.
  • You can choose a mentor and gain access to specific skills by remaining loyal to them.

Different stances will add a layer of depth to the game. Maybe certain stances will be stronger or weaker compared to the others? That’s going to translate to a quick-thinking game of rock, paper, scissors since you can stay in one stance or change to another. Success will come down to whichever player is better at reading their opponent.

The customizable deck is an interesting feature. Should you focus more on offense or defense? Or maybe you should make a balanced deck that does a bit of both. Will that leave you with fewer options since you won’t excel at anything? If the decks aren’t changeable in combat, the player is going to have to plan out how they want to approach each fight.

The mentor system adds a bit of lore to the game that has you finding a suitable master. It’s got potential to add something unique to the game. We’ll need to wait before we know if it’s a good feature or a just a novelty.

What Absolver needs to do to be successful

  • Dedicated servers: Each player connects to a dedicated server, rather than having one player host the fight. The cheaper alternative for developers is peer-to-peer (p2p) networking, where one player must host the fight, but it doesn’t work well with a fighting game that requires quick reactions like this. The outcome of a fight shouldn’t be dependent on the person with a better connection.
  • Low skill floor with a high skill ceiling: The game needs to be easy to get into, but hard to master. Everyone that tries the game should have fun, and the dedicated minority that want to excel should find it challenging to do so.
  • Everything should be obtainable: The only way to create an even playing field is to give everyone access to the same toolkit. That’s the combat deck in this game. It’s highly customizable, which is a good thing, but it also needs to be fully obtainable. Someone that put 100 hours into the game versus someone with 10 hours should only have an advantage because of their time and experience— it shouldn’t be because they had 90 additional hours to grab goodies the other player didn’t have access to.
  • A meaningful ranking system: There has to be a reason for the player to come back after the initial excitement has worn off. There has to be a way for the player to prove their mastery of the game with a way to quantify that in numbers and show it off. Ultimately, there needs to be a system that allows the player to compete with the best of the best and improve.

Why you should care about it

The game is developed by mixed martial arts enthusiasts, and the gameplay shows it. Let’s look at how brutal this action is:

Ouch. (

The art direction is also pretty unique from what we can see here. The characters and setting have an eastern influence, while the armor and gear have a touch of fantasy. It’s a fun mix that doesn’t appear very often in video games.

And finally, the combat shows a lot of depth! Absolver looks like it’s going to focus more on the strategy of a fight rather than split second reaction times. Giving the player the ability to read their opponent and figure out how to respond is much more exciting than traditional fighting games that ask you to react in a moment’s notice. Personally, I think it’s awesome to have a fighting game reward strategy as well as reflex, and I can’t wait to check it out.

Absolver comes out on August 29 for PS4 and PC. I’ll be posting my gameplay reactions when I get my hands on the game!

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