I'm Just Not Good Enough for Absolver

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Posted by beardslyman (37 posts) -
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I suppose the most direct analogue to Absolver would be the Dark Souls series. I haven’t played enough of either games to make that connection myself, but at a cursory glance they seem to share a lot of the same mechanics. This is troubling for me because I’ve never been a fan of the Dark Souls games, mostly because I’m not up to their challenge. Also because I’m not a sadist.

Before I dive into why these kinds of games never worked for me, I should explain what Absolver is. Absolver is a martial arts based, action-rpg that is built around the idea of stance-based combat and customizing your combos. It all sounds really exciting from a distance, but the thing I wasn’t prepared for was the level of difficulty within.

I've got a hundred ways to kick your ass, let me show you.
I've got a hundred ways to kick your ass, let me show you.

I’m sure for a seasoned Dark Souls fan Absolver presents a unique, yet surmountable challenge. But from the early stages I found myself bashing my head against encounters until the enemy randomization and placement became a little more forgiving.

A typical scenario would be me breezing through 3 or 4 enemies only to come up against Bruce Lee wearing a mask. No matter how many times I’d counter or dodge, Bruce would counter my counters and dodge my dodges and ultimately kick me into oblivion. Then I’d reload, only to find Bruce Lee had trained his buddies at the entrance of the level, and get obliterated again. A few more times of this and finally Bruce and his disciples had left, leaving me in the clear and able to stroll through the level.

That’s where my biggest qualm with Absolver is. I never felt like I was actually learning anything or getting any better. Every time I cleared an encounter or beat a boss, it felt less like I had used an arsenal of skills and more like I had gotten lucky.

Don’t knock my style.
Don’t knock my style.

But this isn’t an Absolver or Dark Souls issue, this is a “me” issue. I’m not good at these games and as I get older I have less and less patience for them. I’m powering through Absolver as much as I can, but I know I’m going to hit a wall and eventually stop. I want to like this game so much, but I can’t. If I could feel a little more like a badass and less like I hit big at a casino this would be a different conversation.

This also feeds into the lack of difficulty consistency in Absolver. There's nothing rewarding about handily defeating a boss, only to be dissolved by the nameless enemy waiting around the corner.

But then again, I only speak for myself. The fact that Dark Souls is a successful franchise that spawned it’s own genre is a testament to the fact that people want these kinds of games. Players have mastered them in ways that seem superhuman to me, and I know there will be people who dominate Absolver in a similar fashion.

Behold, the world is yours to punch your way through.
Behold, the world is yours to punch your way through.

This isn’t to say Absolver is a perfect game that I just suck. The game has a lot of rough edges in terms of optimization and especially control issues. I’ve been using an Xbox One controller, and I can’t help but think that the right analog stick has far too many functions attached to it. For instance, we have basic camera control when out of combat, but once you tap the right bumper, you’re locked on to an enemy thus changing the function entirely. Once locked on, the right stick is your dodge or parry depending on what class you pick. But wait, there’s another enemy, hold the right bumper and move the right stick to target them. Oh no, you’re in the wrong stance, hold the right trigger and move the stick to change it, all the while dodging attacks and making sure you don’t fall into a pit or a pool of water.

It’s a lot to deal with all at once. Maybe I’m nitpicking, but these things all compound and make a game that requires a ton of precision feel less precise. That combined with the difficulty inconsistencies make me enjoy Absolver less and less. It’s a damn shame too, because it presents itself so well in terms of world design and art style.

I’ll probably fall from up there at some point.
I’ll probably fall from up there at some point.

But ultimately, this isn’t an indictment of the game, but of myself. Games like this just aren’t for me and have become increasingly more impenetrable as I’ve gotten older. Maybe my patience has worn out, maybe I just don’t have the time to practice, but I know that I’ll never “git good,” and I’m totally fine with that.

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#1 Posted by Johnny_Sailor (118 posts) -

Hey bud! You look in the mirror right now, and tell yourself that it isn't that you're not good enough for Absolver... Absolver isn't good enough for YOU.

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#2 Posted by beardslyman (37 posts) -
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#3 Edited by IamTerics (788 posts) -

I totally get what you're coming from, thought I'm having the opposite problem. But also its totally this game. The Dark Souls comparison gives it too much credit. I really don't think the combat explains itself well, which I guess can be seen as a Dark Souls thing. I more or less managed to mash my way through most of the bosses. Specifically I made a pretty long combo, with different specials bound to triangle. Its kind of a shame since some of it isn't too confusing. Like faster moves or simply dodging and then attacking can beat slower moves. Armor moves can beat out faster moves. Moves like sweeps can duck or move out of the way of other moves. And certain moves do way more stamina damage. It made sense from playing fighting games, which also don't explain themselves well.

It also kinda sucks that there are dozens of moves that all kinda look the same. And since enemies seem to just not black randomly, it really does feel like mashing. Maybe that's what the mentor system is about and maybe online in general? I managed to get it working once on PS4 and it was pretty chuggy. But I could see this game making more sense in an online community environment. Regardless, its pretty telling that the end game is supposedly PvP.

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#4 Posted by beardslyman (37 posts) -

@iamterics: I feel like there's a version of this game that's just an awesome action game that I would really have enjoyed. And only after 4 hours of playing did I realize that moves had different properties. I just think this game is too ambiguous for its own good. A little more tutorialization could've changed that experience for me.

Speaking as someone not intimately familiar with Dark Souls, what are the differences?

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#5 Posted by TobbRobb (6588 posts) -

It seems like the barrier of entry on the game is quite big. I've been able to intuit some stuff from lessons I've learned in other games like souls or an assortment of fighting games. But coming into this with a fresh perspective seems like a huge hurdle!

I think if you are interested in getting better at Absolver or games in a similar vein, you definitely can. It's honestly mostly a commitment of time and investment. I used to have clubs for hands that could barely do anything dexterious, and I was ridiculously anxious in competitive or difficult environments. But nowadays that's slowly been chipped away at and I can comfortably play online 1v1 games and my hands are far more agile!

Some people may have an easier time learning games, but I think anyone can if you just try for a long enough time. So I wouldn't feel too bad about it. You are probably investing that time somewhere else more important. :P

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#6 Edited by DeathTrap (427 posts) -

I have to admit, I'm weirdly intrigued by Absolver. I don't like fighting games and I'm ambivalent about playing Dark Souls (love watching it, though)... I also don't like most competitive multiplayer, but Absolver seems really interesting.

EDIT: I'm also surprised there's no Quick Look for Absolver yet. Expected Jeff and Jason to be interested in the fighting game aspect and Brad or Vinny to be curious about the Dark Souls portion.

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#7 Edited by beardslyman (37 posts) -

@tobbrobb: Who has the time to get better at video games, when I have to spend said time writing about them?! But I think it's a matter of motivation at this point, I'd love to get better, but I don't have the desire to commit hours and hours to it.

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#8 Posted by TobbRobb (6588 posts) -

@deathtrap: I have a feeling none of the crew are going to like it. Maybe Jason. But I'm 99% sure Jeff will hate it and Brad/Vinny will chuck it in the "looks interesting but..." basket.