Of everything I’ve played of late, nothing has left me exhausted yet wanting more as much as Absolver. Never heard of it? I’m glad you’re here then, because there’s plenty to get excited about this indie release out France.

Imagine if you had an open world full of dangerous bad guys, where your task is to maintain stability within this dark and foreboding world. Sounds familiar, until you look a little closer and realise that everything you thought about combat in a video game is about to get thrown out the window, for Absolver isn’t your typical beast.

For one, everything is about observing your opponents and the world around you, to gain better knowledge of how to survive and grow stronger. Whether it’s hand-to-hand combat, weapons or armour, each piece plays an important role, and each combat style can be tailored your way. It’s an incredibly detailed system that I was lucky to have been shown the ropes of by one of Slocap’s lead designers during RTX Sydney, and I must admit I was a little taken aback with its immense level of detail.

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That’s not a complaint, far from it. Everything within Absolver will come to you in time, despite how complex it might look. Within a few minutes, I was guarding, parrying, setting up combos and swinging swords with somewhat accuracy. I was told, very clearly, that this isn’t going to be a friendly experience for those keen on button mashing. Time, patience and plenty of practise will server you far better than throwing endless swings, as I learnt soon enough.

I was taken through a training level, the basics of combat and equipping and evolving moves. Each combo can be modified (once they become available) to suit your style, whether it be offence or defence. As I was shown, my basic attack changed from a few punches to a low leg sweep, a heavy punch, counterattack … each based on a different kind of martial art or combat style. It took a little to sink in, but once I had a general grasp of everything, I watched closely as a little meter below my well designed character ticked back and forward, telling me precisely when to tap the buttons on my controller to land a flowing attack. It’s genuinely thrilling to get the timing right.

I only scratched the surface of the combat system in the little time I had with it, but the mount of depth, logic and potential in the system far outweighs anything that, say, For Honor holds within its design. Given that members of Slocap came across from fellow French studio Ubisoft might hint as to where the inspiration originated from. Both titles do share a similarity, though Absolver is so much more than swinging a sword or axe. It’s a smoother experience to me, and the amount of styles available is remarkable.

Absolver will include both PVP and PVE options when it launches, and right now it’s not entirely sure how that works. When I loaded into a combat zone against a fellow player, there was a short loading sequence into a small arena. Whether you can skip in and out of these at will or have to search via a menu screen isn’t certain just yet, but I’m not too fussed. I can see myself getting lost within this little world all on my own anyway.

In fact, the world itself is stunning so far. The character animations are incredibly fluid, it feels like a more advanced form of paper mache, as if someone took a handful of card and transformed it into this lush, combat heavy universe of ideas. It stands out, especially if the response to the trailer during an interlude between panels during RTX is anything to go by. The audience was taken by its introduction and intrigued by its combat, and so am I.

Absolver shows promise, though I do question whether PVP will hold the same interest to me as PVE. It’s expected to release later this year on PC, Xbox One and PS4, so I hope to have that answer sooner rather than later.

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