Sifu is a Kung Fu action game independent French studio, Sloclap. Sifu is a game about revenge. You are the son and student of a slain Sifu whose family was brutally murdered in their home. Though he was killed during the attack, he was somehow brought back to life thanks to a magic talisman that revives the holder whenever they die. The main portion of the game takes place years later as the son, now skilled in the mastery of Kung Fu, sets out to enact his revenge against the murderers who took his family. Inspiration for Sifu comes from classic Kung Fu movies and it really shows with its action-oriented gameplay.
What makes Sifu so interested is its true-to-life combat mechanics. Based on actual Pak-Mei Kung Fu, Sifi boasts a staggering amount of unique attacks that players can learn and unlock, with both hand-to-hand combat moves as well as weapon-based ones. Attacks can be strung along effortlessly and fluidly in combination with defensive moves and counter-attacks. What’s nice here is that button combinations and joystick movements you need to make to do these attacks are fairly simple to master. Sifu makes combat much easier with just a block button, a light attack and heavy attack button, and a special attack.
Most of the combat will consist of timing your blocks in order to counter with either light or heavy attacks to break down the enemies’ health. Once that happens, you can use a finishing move, which again is pretty automatic as long as you press the button at the correct time. While the combat may seem a bit over-simplistic with its button mashing, it never really feels like that. The combat is in fact quite deep and very impressive. It will take practice however to master the block and parry techniques but once you do, you’ll be defeating groups of enemies with relative ease. The action sequences here are very reminiscent of Hong Kong-style action flicks.
Sifu also has a progression system in place that keeps things pretty interesting. As you play, you gain XP that you can use to unlock new special moves. These unlocks stay with you for the duration of your playthrough until you permanently die. You can however permanently unlock these if you spend enough XP on them. It will take a while though to do this.
And that brings me to the magical aspect of the game. Your character has a magical talisman that revives you whenever you die, however with this comes a penalty. You age each time you are revived until you hit the age of 70, and that’s the end of the talisman’s powers. Each time you are revived, your strength is increased, but your health is decreased. This is a really unique gameplay mechanic and it’s neat watching your character age, though you know you’ll ultimately meet your maker if you die too many times.
Aside from the excellent gameplay mechanics and fluid combat, Sifu’s art style is very good. I’m lucky enough to play this with an Nvidia RTX 3070, so I’m able to really crank up the graphics quality. You may remember that Sloclap also made Absolver, another fighting game, but Sifu is leagues ahead when it comes to the way the game looks. Everything about this game looks so good, from the character design and animations to the detailed environments. While it’s not photo-realistic, this style works and gives Sifu a unique look and plenty of charm.
Anyways, there’s a lot to like about Sifu. This is a true Kung Fu game that gets everything right for the most part. The action is very authentic and I love that it does have that cinematic feeling. The game isn’t too hard to pick up either and learn the basic moves, but you will need a lot of practice to actually get really good at it. Luckily, there is a training mode to help. Sifu is the perfect game for those who love Kung Fu and martial arts games as well as those who generally love action games. The gameplay is solid and the art is amazing. I’d say Sifu is well worth the purchase.
Disclaimer: Received game from developer and/or publisher for coverage purposes.
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