Whatever happened to Absolver?

It's still punching and kicking, apparently

    
8
Faces are boring.

Remember Absolver, the martial arts multiplayer title from developer Sloclap and publisher Devolver Digital? There hasn’t been much news out of the game beyond a production update post in May 2018, the Downfall expansion release in September 2018, and more recently a balance patch in March 2019.

So just where do things stand? In terms of player numbers, the game experienced a couple of peaks in April and November 2020, both of which fell away shortly after, but beyond that the player headcount appears to have hit something of a plateau, with numbers running between 120 – 140 players in total over the course of last year, though there are a couple of dips below the mark. As of this writing, the game’s last 30 days saw 146 players at peak while the last 24-hour peak was 78 players.

That all sounds rather dire on paper, but recent Steam user reviews trend to the “Very Positive” scale, and there has been some recent activity on the game’s Steam forums, with a player-arranged 3v3 EU tourney and one response to a call for players for an encounter pointing towards an active Discord community.

There’s also a thread where players try to ascertain why Absolver didn’t light a lot of people on fire, but one of the best pieces of evidence that the title has a small but dedicated community comes from another thread asking if the game is dead, which prompted a pretty succinct player response: “Buy and play it. But Absolver will no longer be updated. Just enjoy what you have. This is a masterpiece.”

sources: Steam (1, 2, 3), Steam Charts, official site
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Danny Smith

Its a great game but feels like it never got its real audience. Its basically a bushido blade or way of the samurai kind of deal but because of the basic controls all the media outlets described it as “a martial arts soulslike” which is about as true for this as it would be for Ocarina of time because it has a combat system based on circling a locked on enemy.

Which means instead of the niche but existing audience for things like BB and fighting game fans who would love it you got a lot of people expecting a souls clone and that meant a lot of the experiences i had were “people learn the slide tackle, can easily two shot people who react slower so the low tier shitters only use slide tackle spam” which if you knew how to dodge and counter like anyone who read the tutorial should do -but ironically as we saw with Sekiro people will NOT read tutorials and then complain a game is too hard because they dont understand a mechanic- and then they either get bodied by you pulling off a combo OR way more likely they go “well, that didn’t work GGGGGGG TIME TO DISAPPEARRRRRRR” and they pull a “early game dark souls invader that didnt find an easy target” and turn their internet off or force quit the program.

This was 99 out of 100 fights i ran into. Eventually these people fell off and so did most of the people bored of running into them and so it turned into a ghost town very fast.

Its a case of the game being stable and mechanically sound but the userbase killed itself so the game never had a chance.

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Tee Parsley

The closer a fighting game is to ‘Bushido Blade’, the more I like it. Don’t particularly care for smashy button combo complexity.

Have looked at Absolver before, but not made the jump.

EmberStar
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EmberStar

I was interested in it… until it became apparent that it was an online PVP game. I have no interest in fighting other players.

Not much else I can say that won’t just turn into reciting “The Litany of Things Emberstar Dislikes” from “The Codex of Stuff That Annoys.”

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cursedseishi

The game plays like a more serious, fleshed out and polished take of ‘Godhand’–which is great and also a detriment.

Godhand is one of my personal favorite brawlers on the PS2, and bringing the ‘make-your-combo’ aspect of it forward while tightening up the dodging/weaving mechanic and further expanding on both is one of my favorite parts to Absolver. Mechanically, there isn’t really a game out there that feels so good to play.

However, the detriment to that is the fact that… Godhand was an arcady brawler. It had fun baked into it. Fleshing out the mechanics, balancing it all around one another, and making the game innately competitive gets rid of a lot of that baked-in fun. The skill floor gets raised a few stories as well between ‘basic NPC mobs’ and ‘Basic Player’, such that you can’t simply just jump in and know what you’re doing. And when you finish the single player offerings, there’s nothing really extra to run through aside from ‘PvP’. So it comes to no surprise that the game has a rather small and limited ‘niche’ audience.

It isn’t a fighting game where you learn a few characters. It’s a game where you learn the ins and outs of several styles, have to balance that core difference between multiple potential attacks each with their own unique ins and outs from 4 sets of attack patterns at any time… And trying to ensure you have a way to counter at least some of them.

The people who wanted a Wuxia-styled Dark Souls with a deep and fun combat system played it and left it at that. It’s why I’ve dipped in and out of the game over the years, because I know there’s nothing all that special for me at the end. I don’t ‘do’ PvP, but I love the intricacies of the game. But if I wanted to really play something like it again and not have to worry about the PvP aspect?

Well… I have Godhand, and a Dragon Kick that’ll send your sorry self into the milky way.

It’s a difference of fun and innate accessibility. Absolver is fun, but it prefers to get deeper into the weeds than a rice-planting simulator, and when you need to go up against players that is an immediate wall you’ll be bashing against until you either bounce off for good or finally start to pick up on everything.

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Richard de Leon III

If it was more pve than pvp I prolly wouldve played it more. But truthfully its active combat is not friendly to my aging reflexes. I doubt i can do well further down the progression path after i did the initial trial.

ihatevnecks
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ihatevnecks

It was an extremely well made pvp focused game that relied on player skill and reflex rather than the ability to beat your opponent through more powerful gear.

Basically the type of game most pvpers refuse to play.

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Life_Isnt_Just_Dank_Memes

I played it early on and really liked it. Brightly colored, souls like, fighting game with solid progression? What’s not to like? Well, when I played it the netcode (for lack of a more accurate term) was not good. IDK if it ever got better. I put 50 or so hours into it and felt like I had gotten what I wanted out of it at that point.

If they ever did a sequel I’d pick it up no questions asked. The PvE was engaging and they made a really interesting world to explore.

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Minimalistway

I love everything about this game except the PVP, there is PVE content but i don’t know how much, so i’ll watch a review for it, maybe it’ll change my mind.