Locke has eloquently summed up everything I could think to say about this game. The combat feels intelligent; it teaches you about fighting games while ostensibly draped in the trappings of third-person action titles, and it’s an amazing experience from start to finish. The one thing I wanted to touch upon a little more was the “Co-Op Experience.”
As Locke said, you can team up with random people you meet (similar to Journey), or you can invite friends into your game. Together, you can travel across all of the Adal Empire (which probably takes about 30 minutes total), and fight the various enemies you encounter. There are special enemies, called “Marked Ones,” that you and your buddies can fight as a group, and there are also three boss enemies that have to be fought individually. When fighting as a group, you have to be careful about getting too close to your friends as your big roundhouse kick may end catching them in the back of the head instead of an enemy. Land too many “accidental” attacks and you’ll suddenly turn hostile toward them. You can negate that action and join up again as allies, but it requires having to go into the emotes menu a couple times to first cancel the hostility, and then again to offer to team up. There’s also the Mentor/Student feature where one player can create their own school that focuses on a particular style and combat deck, and other players can join that school to learn that style and deck.
While Absolver does fit within the framework of “two or more players working together to accomplish a goal against AI opponents,” it is still at its core a 1v1 fighting game. Once you clear all the PvE content, which takes about four to five hours, all that’s left is the PvP. Want to join a fighting school? You’ve got to fight another player first and see if they’re part of one, then you can join it. Advance within that school? Fight against other players in the “Combat Trials.” There are harder/different versions of the three main PvE bosses, but in order to unlock them, you’ve got to PvP. In other games, there’s so much content outside of the PvP that it becomes this optional thing to experience. In Absolver, you’re always building towards it.
I wish there was more to explore, see, and do in Absolver for those of us looking for a longer co-op experience, and hopefully future content for the game will add new areas to explore and maybe even some kind of co-op fighting style. For now, while I certainly enjoy playing Absolver and can recommend it, it comes with the caveat that the PvP elements are omnipresent. No matter how much time you and your friends may spend learning new moves, fighting the Marked Ones and Lost Prospects together, or helping one another, there’s only way for it all to end: in a one-on-one fight to the death.
The Co-Op Experience: Players cooperatively battle to retrieve rare loot and equipment from the ruins of Adal.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.