You’ve heard of the Way of the Dragon, but have you come across the Way of the Magic Right Arm? As you’ve probably guessed, it’s a martial art were every move has to involve the right arm – effective at rattling jaws, less so at sweeping ankles. It’s not, you’ve probably also guessed, an actual combat discipline but one of thousands dreamt up by players of Sloclap’s Absolver, the unbearably stylish fighting game which lets you pick from over 120 beautifully animated kicks and punches to create a bespoke martial art, or “deck”, of up to 16 moves.
Launched in 2017, Absolver’s idyllic open world and RPG trappings such as looting are a little deceptive. This is a duelling simulation above all and as such, many player-created decks are works of painstaking optimisation, born of hours spent weighing up frame counts and hit ranges. There are plenty, however, that are more whimsical than competitive, and the game would be much poorer without them.
Some decks are purely about showing off, stringing together high-stakes moves like the MeiaLua, a grandiose kick which begins with you pointing your arse at your opponent’s head. Others trade on creative handicaps, such as boxer decks that keep your feet firmly on the ground. There are monkish decks that seek to recreate as closely as possible the martial arts (including Kung Fu and Jeet Kune Do) from which Sloclap took inspiration. At the sillier end of the scale are decks which only use moves that spin you clockwise, and “Chad decks” – as lovingly described by r/absolver member Morklympious – which chain together meaty hits with wind-ups so exaggerated you might as well be fighting in slow motion. They’re guilty pleasures for veterans looking to blow off some steam.