Sifu is a third-person brawler with authentic Kung Fu combat mechanics and cinematic martial arts action that puts you on the path to vengeance.
I’ve yearned to play Sifu ever since I was compelled to watch a PlayStation State of Play that featured it, feeling slightly envious that the Xbox version would not be released. The timed exclusivity period has concluded, and Sifu is now available on the large black box sitting beneath my television.
Developed by Sloclap and published by their colleagues at Kepler Interactive, it arrives on Xbox with a new mode, the Arenas expansion. Let’s examine the success of the transition, shall we?
This review can begin with the plot, which is right out of a 1970s martial arts film, so I was immediately interested. When we are eight years old, we witness the murder of our father by a group of bad guys headed by Yang, one of our father’s former students. Sadly, we are then also slain! Due to the fact that this is a video game, however, we are able to return to life due to an artifact. Believe me, as the game progresses, you will come to revere this small artifact. After a period of training and maturation, we set out on a path of vengeance to punish those responsible for the death of dear old dad, as would any dutiful child. The stage is set for some kung fu ass-whacking, and everyone is invited.
The presentation of Sifu is quite impressive, with intriguing graphics. The player’s character, as well as the game’s enemies, each have a distinct appearance that functions well. In addition, every character’s animation is of the highest caliber, with combat that is fluid and fluid-looking, and confrontations that look incredibly impressive. The story is divided into various levels, each with a distinct appearance, varying from a nightclub to a museum, and the worlds are beautifully realized.
The audio is also of the highest quality, with the appropriate kung fu impacts required for these activities. It’s beneficial that the voice acting is adequate. In fact, both the presentation supervisor and Sifu are excellent, and I have no complaints.
The narrative is flawless and the presentation is excellent; therefore, it is time to examine the actual gameplay.
Combat is the main attraction here. You have the standard heavy and light attacks, and the manner in which these are combined determines the flow of combat. The timing of the parry maneuver is the most important thing you can master. Only by parrying and then countering will you be able to survive in Sifu, and some enemies will only receive damage when countered, so practicing this first is my top recommendation. Learn the game’s systems and how combat works before venturing into the Arenas, as this section is extremely challenging.
In fact, the combat is extremely challenging throughout the entirety of the game, mainly because it functions as you would expect it to in real life – enemies do not wait in line to attack you in an orderly fashion. You will need to develop eyes in the back of your skull to keep them at bay, as they will all attempt to attack you simultaneously. Fortunately, the camera is up to the task, and as you continue to practice, the combat will begin to click and feel more natural, while the systems become clearer as you string together combos, strike asses, and take names like Bruce Lee himself.
I cannot emphasize enough how excellent the kung fu action in Sifu is, with brutal finishing techniques. It is wonderful to see that some of them are recognizable from film, such as the center line strikes of Wing Chun from the Ip Man films. It is firmly anchored in real-world combat, and acquiring a weapon is simply an excuse to unleash a whole new world of misery on your foes.
Believe it or not, the really cool Sifu mechanic comes into action when you are defeated. The relic that prevents us from dying does, however, have a side effect: each time we perish and return, we age a certain number of years. It is a case of swings and roundabouts: as we age, we become stronger, dealing more injury to our enemies, but we also lose health; it is a case of swings and roundabouts. Eventually, as you age, the relic will begin to deteriorate, and once it has completely deteriorated, we will no longer be able to be revived and will be forced to repeat the section we perished in.
The relic serves a second purpose, allowing us to learn new techniques by expending the experience gained from defeating foes. There are a variety of moves to uncover, and if you invest additional EXP into a previously unlocked skill, you can permanently unlock it for each subsequent level. For abilities such as “Restore health on a finishing move,” this is absolutely essential. There are also new combat maneuvers to learn, which is one of the issues I’ve encountered. The special techniques are similar to those of any fighting game, requiring the input of a command to execute. In the midst of combat, these can be difficult to execute. For instance, a sweep move is executed by pressing down, up, and Y in sequence, but when we are surrounded by ten adversaries all attempting to kick us in the head, we usually end up moving into range of an attack while attempting to execute it. This is a minor issue, but in my opinion, it renders the moves nearly pointless. Perhaps someone with smaller fingers would find it easier?
The new Arenas update in Sifu is also a lot of fun to try, with a series of scenarios presented that are entirely unrelated to the main story or the bosses there (whoever conceived of the woman with the golden chain is forever banned from receiving my Christmas card). Nonetheless, the combat here is as swift and ruthless as the rest of the game. Each scenario you must complete has a unique scoring system, tallied out of three stars, with the higher scores representing a more difficult challenge. One scenario, for instance, tasks us with eliminating seven marked enemies against the clock; I missed the three-star time by 11 seconds on my first attempt.
I can confidently state that the wait for Sifu on Xbox has been well worth it. The martial arts action is fantastic, with some truly devastating action to appreciate. The combat is extremely difficult, and the bosses are on an entirely new level, but when you conquer it, the sensation is nothing short of amazing. Sifu excels at parrying and countering, incorporating finishing techniques, and engaging in fluid combat.
If you are even remotely interested in kung fu combat, you owe it to yourself to play Sifu.
Sifu: Sifu is a third-person brawler with authentic Kung Fu combat mechanics and cinematic martial arts action that puts you on the path to vengeance. – kendajaya