Absolver: Tuning Martial Arts To Competitive Gameplay

Sloclap recently released an Alpha gameplay video about their upcoming martial arts combat title Absolver, featuring creative director Pierre Tarno’s live commentary. In it, we discover the mechanics behind a promising idea that takes martial arts and applies them to a competitive online setting. A premise that sounds somewhat complex but Sloclap managed to tackle in an interesting manner.

Absolver is coming to PC, Xbox One, PS4, MAC, and Linux this year with a world that mixes free roaming with its single and multi-player campaigns. Explore vast lands with a friend, train with your master, and encounter many not-so-friendly fighters along the way.

Fight to Win, Fight to Learn

After a game like For Honor focusing mainly on weapon discipline and military tactics from different time periods,  Absolver’s simpler martial arts approach is both intriguing and encouraging. When properly balanced, these games create skillful encounters that really promote learning and training, and Absolver’s system looks like it’s all about that.

Win or lose, fights and training reward the player with progress. Because of the training system introduced, fighters can also progress into new moves during encounters: by gradually picking up moves as they see and suffer them in combat, or by taking the mentor-student approach by teaming up with a friend who turns into the master that teaches you that bone-breaking kick you’ve been needing.

Four Stances, One Flow

The core moves deck starts with four stances, each with three moves and an extra alternative one. Depending on how you chain your attacks you can make each combo transition into a different stance easily, giving you an advantage when combining and mixing styles. However, with the alternative options, you still have a surprise factor hidden to avoid being easily countered.

Each stance has a standard three-move combo, with an extra alternative

 

If achieved, this constant combat flow is rewarded with power-ups that you can consume to activate your special abilities, and even pull out a weapon mid-fight. Don’t get too excited as every attack can be countered. You wouldn’t want to lose a sword to a skilled player who then picks it up. Moreover, when you do bring a knife to a fist fight your whole set of moves also changes, meaning there’s an even deeper array of possibilities available.

Adapt to Disrupt the Enemy

You never know who’s going to pop up and challenge your moves, meaning most of the times you won’t have any idea of what you’re up against until their moves hit you straight in the face. That’s why scouting will be necessary to assess the situation and check what you have in store before going all in. That’s when special moves and attack properties come in to give you an extra hand.

As you progress you will unlock attacks with disrupting properties

 

First off, as your skills grow, so does the power of your attacks. Your combinations not only need to be effective but also be preventive against certain strengths your enemies might have. Attack’s with special properties broaden the spectrum to face heavy duty opponents, punching through their guards or giving you a higher defense.

The final point of combat customization, aside from equipment, is the repertoire of unique abilities for your style. Faking attacks, shockwaves, absorbing effects, all nifty tricks that can save you much trouble if you have the glowing shards power-up to spend. All this combined, and properly executed, should result in tight encounters where even if someone slips, he’s got many chances to come back and take the win.


Overall, Absolver‘s combat in its alpha state lays a positive ground that seems to have learned much from For Honor, other classic fighting games, and even indie fellow titles like Overgrowth. Approaching martial arts combat isn’t easy at all, but Sloclap managed to hook us with an alternative system with heavy skill focus that might just be what is needed for a competitive 3D fighting game. Now if they can just follow through with the final build.

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