When Sifu first premiered at a PlayStation State of Play Event back in February, its unique artistic design and slick fighting gameplay caught the attention of gamers around the world.
The beat ’em up action game quickly become one of the most anticipated titles of the year and was originally slated for a 2021 release. After the decision was made to give the game a little more polish time, Sifu now has a new release date of February 8th, 2022.
As we all know, 2022 is already shaping up to be a stacked year for PlayStation exclusives and video games in general. Although, Sifu will have some tough competition as it launches alongside the likes of Dying Light 2, Horizon Forbidden West, and Elden Ring later on in the month.
But trust me, you won’t want to sleep on Sifu. I was lucky enough to receive a preview copy of the Kung Fu fighting game by Sloclap and my short time with the game has reaffirmed why it’s one of my most anticipated titles for 2022.
The first thing that stands out about Sifu is the artistic style of the characters, the animations, and the overall feel of the world. The plot revolves around a Kung Fu student who is out for revenge after a group of assassins murder his family, and the atmosphere and tone work perfectly.
Whether it’s a nightclub filled with neon lights or an alleyway only lit by a small fire, each setting encompasses you in the world of a character that only has vengeance on his mind.
It’s clear that Sloclap has aimed for a more realistic approach to the Kung Fu genre, but I couldn’t help but feel like I was in the world of a John Wick movie, which isn’t a bad thing by the way. If you’ve seen any of the John Wick movies, you’ll know that it’s a story-driven by revenge and pain, with some badass fight scenes.
Speaking of, Sifu is first and foremost a fighting game. So it is of course key that the gameplay and combat feel fluid and powerful. Although the preview build I was given was only a very small portion of the game, the combat was some of the most addicting I’ve ever experienced in a video game.
I’m not exactly an expert at fighting games, give me 5 minutes with Mortal Kombat and I’d probably throw the controller through the TV in frustration. But Sifu is able to reward you for pulling off slick combos, whilst also appealing to the button mashers out there. I didn’t feel like I was forced to remember what buttons to press as I was still able to take on multiple enemies at once with a little bit of luck, excitement, and good old button mashing.
It’s not always about using hand to hand combat either, players can use the environment to their advantage when taking on multiple opponents. Whether it’s a glass bottle at the bar, a chair, or a baseball bat, weapons and the environment will become your best friend in avoiding death.
But I will admit I rarely felt frustrated when I did die, partly due to the fluent animations and clean head kicks that always KO’d me were satisfying to watch, but mainly due to the fact that death actually offered a purpose in Sifu.
The game has a unique ageing mechanic that revolves around self-improvement, which the developers state is “part of the journey”. When you die in Sifu, an ancient pendant gives you the ability to be resurrected, but at the cost of being aged by a certain amount of years. Before you resurrect you are also given the opportunity to spend your experience points on new skills, meaning a challenging situation can actually become easier in death.
There are both positives and negatives to dying in Sifu though, you may be able to unlock new skills and tackle fights from different angles, but you’ll also return with less and less health each time. Eventually, you’ll turn into a true master with all of the skills needed, but little amount of health to battle with. Once you hit a certain age, the ancient pendant will save you no more and your final death will mean restarting your mission all over again.
I wasn’t able to play enough of Sifu to draw a conclusion on how detailed or engrossing the plot is, but I am eager to jump back in and discover more of the world Sloclap have created. Although I was instantly addicted to the combat and gameplay, I do question whether or not the story has the capability to keep the game afloat and prevent it from becoming a repetitive “beat up enemies, move onto next level” kind of game.
There’s no doubt about it, Sifu is crazy fun and I can’t wait to jump back in next year to experience the story from start to finish. In a year full of massive releases, you won’t want to forget Sifu.