So. Let’s take a break from talking about Capcom. Let’s save that for next week after we’ve played their beta and let their “new improvements” set into our minds. This week, let’s talk about a game that could push the envelope on the asymmetric fighting game.
For those wondering what I mean by “asymmetric fighting game”, back in the For Honor piece I talked about a kind of fighting game that doesn’t follow traditional fighting game rules or structures. For Honor was a start but I think Absolver here could be a leap.
Many of you may have known about this game, but I only heard about it this week. When I did, I began doing a crapton of research and I am kinda excited to see where this game goes. If there is any source of worry, its that this game is developed by former UbiSoft Paris employees. It could end up being an UbiSoft-esque release…which, if you have been following For Honor, is not the greatest thing in the world. However, I am willing to see past that and see the game for what it has shown us so far.
Now, to those who have followed this game, you’ll note that it is marketed as an action RPG. So why bring it up in a fighting game column? No, it isn’t as basic as it being a martial arts game (though, that is a cool draw), but the battle system it presents and how I find great interest in it and the potential it can have for fighting games and their longevity as well as their entertainment factor. The big draw of this game is that your character’s styles can be fully customized. Traditional fighting games have dabbled in this territory before. The Mortal Kombat series has fiddled around with adding weapons in order to change movesets and in X they created different styles entirely. Street Fighter 3 gave the options of multiple supers to supplement a player’s gameplan with a character. Super Smash Bros. 4 tried it with custom moves…but they proved to make even the worst characters too good. Chaos Code has gone the farthest (that I am aware of) by giving characters extra special and super moves.
But imagine being able to have a set style and build the style to cater to how you want to fight. From normals to specials, the way you fight and create combos could completely be changed. Perhaps the concept would cater more to 3D fighters than 2D since 3D fighters could make these changeable moves look more fluid, but it wouldn’t be impossible with 2D fighters. Imagine playing a mirror match in Tekken with Jin and your Jin is slower but deals out more damage while your opponent’s Jin has quicker moves and parries but his damage output isn’t as good. The examples may be more extreme than the execution, but it’s still well worth the thought.
So then come the concerns. One big concern could be the fact that this style of game is a little too free form for competitive play. One of the cornerstones of being good at a fighting game is knowing the matchups. Knowing what your character could do versus what your opponent can do. Such would be impossible if the opponent could change their movesets on the fly or in between rounds. Another could be balancing. Looking at MKX, it hit an unavoidable wall of some character’s movesets being completely outclassed by other variants. You’d see someone play a character like Raiden, then laugh when you see they have something like Displacer (seriously, why would you pick anything but Thunder God?). The same could happen here where a combo string could be discovered and used as THE essential combo string for a character/martial art.
On the other hand, seeing different styles can keep the game from getting stale and can encourage more testing and exploration than any game before it. You could be labbing for hours and still keep learning. It gives you some personal investment to build your character from the ground up to reflect you and your playstyle. The possibilities could be endless, if this is executed properly.
I think Absolver is a game to keep our eyes on. It looks good, it runs smooth, and doesn’t seem to be held back by AAA crap like preorder culture or the like. Which may also be why the advertisement of it seems to be so lacking. Some people know about this game, but too many don’t. Honestly, I don’t know if this game will be good or not. But it has presented a very interesting approach to combat that fighting game fans should take notice of. Who knows? We may see a DOA title where the moves are totally changeable but stick to the core of the character’s specific style. It’s possible and that possibility is worth checking out. So, will you be getting Absolver? Are you going to see where this game goes? Also, check out the combat system for a better look of what this game is bringing.