Learning The Basics Of Melee Combat With 'Absolver,' Hands On

We first played Absolver at last year’s E3, and the development team at Sloclap was back again this year with an updated version of the game. In our 30-minute demo, we learned about the mechanics of the game, which centers around a list of melee attacks known as the Combat Deck, and we quickly found out that Absolver is one of those games that will take some time to master everything it has to offer.

Show Me Your Moves

During our demo, we paired up with a member of the development team who acted as our ally, mentor, and sparring partner within the game. To start, we learned about the use of light and heavy attacks and how to quickly dodge hits from foes. Depending on the character you choose at the beginning, you can parry incoming attacks, dodge them completely, or even absorb a portion of the damage inflicted on you. But before we could get a taste for combat, we had to learn about the game’s Combat Deck, which dictated our moves in a fight.

Each character had a specific combat stance along with a small number of attacks associated with it. This was the foundation for the Combat Deck where we could mix and match these moves to create combos to fit our fighting preferences. To make the Combat Deck even more complex, each attack fitted into one of four directions within the stance. The front-left and front-right positions meant that we faced forward towards the opponent; the back-left and back-right directions indicated that our back was to the enemy. Some attacks within the Combat Deck are only available if you’re facing a specific position, but this didn’t limit the way we created combos because some of these moves, like a kick from the front-right position, naturally changed the direction of the stance. This resulted in a lengthy (and deadly) combination of punches and kicks that naturally flow. 

Learn From Experience

As you make your way through Absolver, you’ll meet other players who have different combat stances along with a new set of moves. By fighting (and defeating) each foe, you’ll slowly gain the ability to learn their stances and moves and add them your Combat Deck. We also found out in our demo that each move isn’t restricted to any specific stance. For instance, we started with a traditional martial arts stance called Windfall, but we also used another stance called Stagger, which was reminiscent of the drunken boxing combat style. Some attacks were based on the Stagger style, but we could combine them with attacks from the Windfall stance. Some Stagger-based attacks were stronger than the Windfall moves, so it was best to use them as finishers or as a quick series of counterattacks.

Executing these moves at any point in the game isn’t difficult. The real challenge comes in combat, where you can’t just mash buttons and hope to land a few blows. You’ll have to wait for the right opening in your foe’s defenses to unleash deadly combos or a quick jab. However, you’ll then have to time your dodges or parries based on the opponent’s movements if you want to stay alive. At first, the combat system almost makes it seem like another fighting game similar to the Street Fighter or Tekken series as you chain attacks and block or evade enemy hits, but the ability to customize your moves opens the door to many different types of fighting styles. We were told that there were about 200 moves in the game overall, so don’t expect other players to use similar attack sequences. Absolver also employs the use of melee weapons such as swords, which can drastically change a player’s fighting style.


Absolver easily falls into the category of games that are easy to learn yet hard to master. With so many moves and stances available, you’ll find yourself making new attack combos for hours on end before testing them in combat situations. However, each fight is also a challenge because you have to evade, block, or absorb enemy attacks to stay alive. With each encounter, you become more familiar with your chosen fighting style and learn more about how to take down each foe. The road to perfecting combat will be long and difficult, but for those who relish the challenge, Absolver might be the game for you.

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TypeAction/Adventure, Online
PublisherDevolver Digital
PlatformsPC, PlayStation 4
Where To BuySteam
Release DateAugust 29, 2017