When I saw the first trailer for Sifu I didn’t know what to think. I liked that it looked like a step forward from studio Sloclap’s previous game, Obsolver. A game I didn’t click with since it wasn’t a single player game. However Sifu, was made to be a single player experience, with modern game play and a homage to old school martial arts movies. All of which are elements that I enjoy. Dispute my slight hesitation, I deciede to give Sifu a shoot.
So Is Sifu a good single player experience? Should you check this game out.
Let’s talk about it.
What is Sifu?
So what is Sifu? Sifu is an roguelike action beat ’em up game by the French Studio Sloclap. You play as the child of a martial arts school’s Sifu. After seeing your father get murdered you set out on a quest for revenge. This is a single player game that should take you roughly 10 hours to beat and about 20 hours to 100%.
Let’s talk about the gameplay.
In Sifu, you use light and heavy attacks, blocks, dodges, and parry to take the fight to your opponents. The game features a combo system similar to fighting games. This is a cool feature that allows you to use a fighting style that suits you. However, for people who aren’t big into fighting games, trying to execute the combos can seem overwhelming.
Unlike other games where the goons politely wait their turn to attack you, these guys don’t play by the same rules. They will actively try to use their numbers advantage. To level the playing field the games gives you the ability to use weapons and maneuver around obstacles to divide and conquer.
Sifu is a game that oozes style and charisma. Every level has its own flavor and unique vibe. In fact, I’ve never seen anything quite like the levels in Sifu. It’s truly special the way that the game uses colors and shadows to make it feel like you’re playing a modern-day martial arts movie. There are two levels in particular that really stand out, The Club and the Museum. These levels have amazing set pieces and some stellar boss fights.
One flaw of the game is that I don’t think it’s very accessible to gamers who don’t typically play fighting games. The game is so combo-focused and based that if you aren’t used to playing fighting games then it’s a steep learning curve.
Another flaw is the game’s complex way of unlocking combos and moves. The method and the systems in place to unlock combos and moves seemed like they could have been more streamlined and more gamer focused. It really feels like these systems are in place to kind of pad the game out and make the game longer than it needs to.
There were also times when I felt like in addition to fighting the enemies on the screen, I was also fighting the camera. It’s not the worse camera in the world but there are times when I’m in a groove with a combo and someone hits me from off the screen. Occasionally this led to me dying. It doesn’t happen all the time but enough that it’s frustrating.
Overall/Should You Play Sifu:
Overall Sifu is a lot like Martial arts. It requires dedication, practice, learning, and discipline to play. Many will be put off by the game’s steep learning curve and difficulty. Even the less punishing “student” mode will be a challenge to those who don’t normally play games of this genre. This game is perfect for those that want a challenging beat ’em up game. If you want a game that’s more akin to the combat system in the Arkham games or a “pick up and play” type of game this isn’t the one for you.
Sifu is a wonderful blend of martial arts movies of the past, modern art, and challenging gameplay. It’s not for everyone, and it has its flaws, but this game is a must-play if you are a fan of fighting or beat ’em-up games.
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Where does this game fit in your video game backlog:
So where should Sifu fit in your video game backlog? Sifu should be your narrative focus game or your palate cleanser game. It narrative isn’t strong but it’s enough to keep you motivated. The controls are also very deep and complex so it’s hard to jungle playing this and other game. I’d advise you mow through this game and then move on to the next.