I’ve spent the better part of the last two weeks in a world of constant fighting. My time there has felt like I was the star in a Kung-Fu movie, throwing together punches and kicks that would make any fight choreographer jealous. The game I’m talking about is Sloclap’s Absolver. A game where players are put into a strange world where all they know is to fight.

Absolver (PC) Review—Master Your Kung-Fu 1
Absolver (PC) – gameplay images via Devolver Digital

Of course, the world where I have been fighting is a very beautiful one. The world has a somber feel to it with simplistic visuals. From the very first areas in the game to the ones at the end, each area looks unique enough and features unique enough architecture that I never felt bored exploring. The world of Absolver is a desolate one. A world that seems broken and ruined beyond repair. Equipment that you can find in the world for your characters is battered with holes and patches holding things together. The whole world has this feeling that we’re exploring what’s left of something great. That lends well to the feel of us being on this journey of self-discovery and repentance that permeates throughout the game.

That somber feeling continues past the game’s visuals and into the sound for the game. The little sound there is in the game helps to accent instead of carrying the game’s action. The quiet stillness combined with the hits of the game really do help it feel like we’re in this world just to fight.

The fighting in Absolver feels great, even if I have some minor gripes with some of the quirks. For the uninitiated, fighting in Absolver is done with a deck of moves. You customize the moves based of what stance they start in and lead into. This means that with certain combinations of moves, you would never have to stop attacking until you run out of stamina. What this leads to are both combatants engaging in a literal dance of death as they string together move after move. Certain moves you use have different defensive properties such as dodging from certain angles while attacking or interrupting certain moves. Each of the four classes that players can join has a different defensive technique, whether that is a parry, dodge, or shrugging off an attack.

Absolver (PC) Review—Master Your Kung-Fu 4
Absolver (PC) – gameplay images via Devolver Digital

The sheer amount of customization available to each player can be staggering. With four different schools to learn and choose from, players have untold amounts of decks that they can create. This level of customization is one of the greatest strengths of Absolver.

For the sake of comparison, let’s talk about how different Absolver is from Ubisoft’s For Honor. Both games are frequently compared to each other since they feature a focus on one vs. one combat. As a player of both let me say that both games feel similar but are unique enough that neither of them feel like a rip-off of the other. For Honor only has three different stances to choose from and each fighter has their own dedicated move set. This makes the game much closer to a fighting game then Absolver. I’d say that Sloclap’s Absolver feels closer to From Software’s Dark Souls franchise then For Honor.

Given that the main story in Absolver can be finished in approximately five hours if you try, the longevity of the game comes from the player vs. player and the goal of creating the perfect deck. That’s how I’ve spent the majority of my time and it’s been enjoyable. The player vs. player in the game has enough diversity that no two fights felt the same. With a selection of different maps to play on and the aforementioned customized decks, there’s enough variety that getting bored with the game should take some time.

The game is not perfect, however. Early on, the game was severely plagued by server issues. For a game with an always online world, having server issues is a major detriment. There were many times I was forced to restart the game to reconnect to the game’s servers and hope for a better connection.

On top of that, trying to create the perfect deck is much more an exercise in patience than anything. You learn moves by defending against them and then winning your fight against your opponent. This applies to both NPCs in game and players in the competitive side of things. With no guarantee that the NPC you are fighting has a move you don’t know and the requirement of beating your opponent, learning moves in Absolver can become more of a chore than an enjoyable quest.

Absolver (PC) Review—Master Your Kung-Fu 2
Absolver (PC) – gameplay images via Devolver Digital

I’ve really been enjoying my time with Absolver. By no means am I great at it. Even with the bugs and issues I’ve faced, I haven’t played anything quite like it. Recent patches have fixed some of the network issues that I’ve mentioned and the developers are committed to bringing more content to the game. For anyone looking for a game that they can devote time to and be rewarded with a unique player vs. player experience, you cannot go wrong.


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