In recent months, I discussed how few games truly do the spirit of ‘martial arts’ and ‘kung fu movies’ justice. In that discussion I referred to how Bioware’s Jade Empire had a minimalist combat system that allowed your character to flow from multiple martial arts styles mid combo. This is also seen via different stances with some Tekken characters as well. Now, we may have a solid contender in Absolver that takes martial arts games in a whole other direction.

Broken down to its core, Absolver kind of plays like a grindy create your own combo version of For Honor. For those who don’t like For Honor, don’t worry. This comparison is actually a good thing. Absolver starts you off as a warrior with a limited moveset and attributes focused around either strength, dexterity, or a mix of the two. After you choose your primary style, you proceed on a journey to become the ultimate martial artist. This is done by battling others (both offline and online). The key to this game (and how you grind) is how you actually learn the moves. You learn moves by defeating other enemies. More specifically, you must block and dodge the specific moves that you do NOT know in order to gain the understanding enough to use the move. This causes the combat in the game to become VERY tactical. See a new move that your opponent is using that you want? Well, now you must prolong the length of the fight enough for you to learn the move but NOT lose. If you lose, you forfeit any progressive understanding of the move you gained in that fight. If you win, not only do you gain that new move understanding, but you also learn how to improve the effectiveness of moves you already know!

This formula is changed and enhanced by fighting bosses that typically fight with numerous other foes (you could be facing 4+ other foes at one time by yourself). These bosses may also choose to whip out (or conjure) a weapon that also comes with it’s own set of moves!

All of this makes for a thinking man’s fight that will have you pouring over your moveset from one battle to the next. Combos will change as you balance speed for damage and everything in-between!

I’ve yet to see the full capability of this game (gear, weapons, online fighting schools, online coop) but the early impressions are quite positive. Stay tuned for more punchy action on Wednesday nights!

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