Players assume the role of a Prospect, who has left their homeland seeking tutelage under the Guides, the mysterious new rulers of the fallen empire of Adal. The bravest and most skilled fighters from across the world travel to Adal in hopes of joining the Absolvers, an elite warrior corps. New Prospects undergo a ceremony that bonds their essence to a mask, which frees them from hunger, thirst, and even death. They are then transported to the ruins of Adal to begin their training and determine whether they are worthy of Absolution.
Prospects begin their journey with a basic move set, called a "Combat Deck," from one of three distinct styles of martial arts: Forsaken, Windfall, or the Kahlt Method. Facing other Prospects in Adal allows you to learn their moves - even ones from different styles - and incorporate them into your own Combat Deck, eventually creating your own unique fighting style.
The game utilizes a seamless multiplayer experience à la Dark Souls, where players can meet and interact with other Prospects making their way through Adal. Prospects can join forces temporarily and assist in taking down "Lost" Prospects, as well as duel one another to further develop their fighting skills. PvP arenas (known as Combat Trials) allow players to test their mettle against other Prospects for rewards, such as weapons or equipment.
Absolver was released worldwide on August 29, 2017 on Steam, GOG, and PlayStation 4. Free updates have been released since and are currently ongoing, adding a currency system, new gear, and new player-vs-player modes among other things.
Absolver show provides examples of:
- Bare-Fisted Monk: All Prospects are this. While swords and other weapons are available, unarmed combat is the main focus of the fighting system.
- Blocking Stops All Damage: It does, however, quickly drain stamina, and when the blocker's stamina is emptied, they're stunned and drop their guard. Certain slow-moving attacks exist specifically to counter blocking, and if hit, drain a larger-than-normal amount of stamina. Averted when the attacker is using a weapon - Scratch Damage will break through, though if the blocker is using a weapon of their own, the amount of damage is reduced.
- Bloodless Carnage: Nobody ever sheds a drop of blood in this game, even when swords come into play. Dead characters disintegrate into light instead.
- Book Ends: Silan, the boss you fight in the tutorial and the final boss share the same mask; the one shown as the icon on the home menu.
- Bottomless Pits: A lot of them are present throughout the adventure and in some PvP arenas. Getting knocked into them means instant death.
- Button Mashing: Discouraged. Timing attacks properly will reduce stamina consumption and increase attack speed, allowing better chain attacks if the rhythm is properly followed.
- Character Customization: Players can choose gender, skin tone, and hair style (and not face), and then further customize their character's appearance with the robust gear system. The Combat Deck system also allows the creation of an entirely custom moveset.
- Confusion Fu: The Stagger style, based on real-life drunken boxing, relies on irregular stances and transitions to keep opponents guessing.
- Combos: A staple of every Prospect's fighting style. Each four stances have their own customizable attack sequences and alternative attacks.
- Competitive Balance: Each of the initial combat styles have their own unique attributes and special abilities.
- Fragile Speedster: Windfall is fast and precise, with its practitioners able to swiftly Avoid attacks. Stagger is similar, with special attacks that serve as quick dodges or super armor and a counterattack in one motion.
- Jack of All Stats: Forsaken style balances speed with striking power. Practitioners can Parry enemy attacks, briefly stunning them.
- Mighty Glacier: Kahlt Method is slow, but powerful. Users are encouraged to Absorb enemy attacks, which gives them super armor and some health back if they land a counter attack.
- Drunken Boxing: The Stagger style is based on this, giving users unpredictable movements and stumbling attacks.
- Drunken Master: In real life, drunken boxing only imitates the movement of a drunk, and actually trying to perform these movements while intoxicated is a recipe for disaster. In Absolver, the guy who teaches the Stagger style sounds a little out of it, and is carrying flasks on his belt, implying people using Stagger might actually be drunk.
- Dual Boss: Cargal and Kilnor fight you two-on-one, and pull swords out when they reach half-health.
- The Faceless: No player characters are ever seen without their mask, except in the intro and outro cutscenes. Even then the camera angle obscures their face.
- Friendly Fireproof: Nope. Thankfully this also applies to enemies. In fact, one achievement requires you to have a Dual Boss kill each other this way.
- Glass Cannon: For some reason, characters do more damage the lighter, and thus less-protective, their gear is.
- Guest Fighter: A variant. Update 1.06 added masks styled after Jacket's mask, a Cartel member, Elohim, a Rengkok goon, an Oratian Operative, and a Bullet Kin.
- Immune to Flinching: The Khalt's Absorb ability eats an enemy's attack without flinching, and counterattacking afterwards reacquires the lost health. Besides this, "Charge" moves are powerful, slow attacks that can tank a single hit before the user flinches, and there are other special attacks (also generally slow, but quicker than Charge attacks) that break the super armor on these moves. The Stagger style's upward defensive ability is a stumble towards the opponent with Charge properties.
- "Just Frame" Bonus: "Gold linking" where timing the attacks in a combo properly (signified by the character flashing, well, gold) lowers stamina consumption while increasing speed and damage done at the same time.
- Joke Item: Or Joke Attack, at least. The Calbot is a Dope Slap that does a whopping 15 points of damage, and the only way to unlock it is by defending against a rarely-spawning NPC that runs around in their underwear and uses only it.
- Mask of Power: All Prospects undergo a ceremony that binds them to their mask, granting them relief from hunger, thirst, and even death, allowing them to focus solely on improving their skills. More masks can be found while progressing through the game, and they are the only piece gear that cannot be unequipped.
- Muscles Are Meaningless: Everyone in the game is very lean with practically no visible muscle mass. The flavor text for the strength stat, which dictates the damage of more powerful-looking haymakers and big punches, says that strength is more of a state of mind.
- Never Bring A Knife To A Fistfight: Zigzagged. Swords do more damage and reach farther compared to bare fists, but they have limited durability and can be disarmed if you take enough damage, which then can be picked up by an enemy.
- Power Copying:
- Every time an attack is defended against (either by dodging, blocking, Super Armoring through it, or using the class' specific defensive ability), a portion of experience towards unlocking the move is accrued. The experience is only cashed in to the total progress towards unlocking the move if the opponent is then defeated, though - dying or running from the fight loses the experience.
- Defeating a boss unlocks one of the items or powers they were carrying.
- Power Fist: One of the weapon types is the War Fist, essentially a pair of knuckledusters that augment a fighter's damage and moves.
- Punny Name: Semi-randomly appearing Stagger style fighter Jinn Mesca.
- Scratch Damage: Cut damage deals a portion of its value through blocks. Most armor pieces have very low resistance to Cut, but those who do have high Cut resist tends to have very low Blunt resistance as well. Blocking with a weapon reduces the amount of scratch damage acquired.
- Sequel Hook: The player character beating the final boss sees them returning back to the temple they started the game in, in order to bestowed as an Absolver... afterwards, the monk that grants the player their robes tells them that they are to return to Adal so they can train further, in preparation of the day that the Guides have need of them.
- Soulslike RPG: Let's see: stamina based combat, tough basic enemies, losing resources upon death (experience you gained towards unlocking a new move in this case), respawn points where you can rest and level up, everything outlined under Story Breadcrumbs below... the biggest difference is greater focus on unarmed combat as opposed to the usual melee weapons (which are still present but supplementary to hand to hand fighting).
- Stance System: Four directions (relative to the opponent) ties into the Prospect's current stance. Some moves can only be performed from certain stances, while others may end on a completely different stance. By combining certain moves, attack sequences can flow from one stance into another.
- Story Breadcrumbs: In a style the developers have acknowledged was specifically inspired by Dark Souls, there's very little in the way of proper plot or exposition, and most world building comes from short conversations with NPCs, environmental details, and descriptions of gear players will find.
- Super Natural Martial Arts: Downplayed. Players can unlock special abilities that can be used in combat in exchange for Tension Shards, but none of them do significant damage and almost all of the fighting will be done with more-or-less realistic punches and kicks.
- Wide-Open Sandbox: Once the player progresses through the liner tutorial area and reaches the main setting, the entire world is open and the player can tackle any of the bosses in any order to unlock The Very Definitely Final Dungeon.
- Wuxia: Though not a straight example, the setting does have elements of this. Martial arts, magical abilities, warriors journeying on the path of self-improvement...