Overall - 80%
Fans of beat-'em-ups or kung fu movies will instantly fall in love with Sifu. If you can handle replaying levels multiple times, it's a must buy.
Originally shown last year during Sony’s State of Play livestream, Sloclap’s Sifu emerges ready for action. Is the martial art-inspired game worth your time, or should you train somewhere else? Check out our review and find out.
Sifu begins with you attacking a dojo in an attempt to look for its master. After that comes a brief story tutorial where you play the bad guy and kill the main character’s father. You are killed but brought back to life through the power of a strange amulet. The game then fast-forwards as you grow up, training to defeat the people who killed your father. When you reach 20 years old, you head out on your mission.
You have five enemy targets to find and defeat. Each of them owns a district, and you have to fight your way to the boss. You can consider them like levels, albeit very hard levels. Clearing most of them doesn’t take a ton of time. Rather, each time you die, you go up in age. The more you die, the quicker it goes up. If you die too much, you lose a charm. If you lose all your charms, it is game over. This game can be VERY hard at points; we’re talking Sekrio levels of hard.
With this in mind, you need to clear a level with as few deaths as possible. To put things in perspective, I was 68 years old by the second level, and I needed to start a new game altogether. To my knowledge, there is no way to lower your age after you clear a level. I had to play each level a few times and learn the fights and boss battles. If you leave after dying, you don’t stay aged. Aging also affects how much damage you do and how much HP you have. More importantly, specific skills are blocked out by age. If you get too old, you won’t be able to learn them all. In other words, get ready to play the same levels a bit.
The combat itself is (mostly) fantastic. If you’ve seen any fast and flashy martial arts flick, you will know what Sifu is going for. Basic combos consist of Square and Triangle, but that only gets you so far. Sifu’s greatest strength is its move list, which any fighting game fan will love. I admittedly was overwhelmed at first, but I grew more confident over time and was able to take on multiple foes simultaneously and chain moves. Combine that with the blocking and parrying, and you can easily take on up to five baddies at once.
As you defeat bad guys, you build combo multipliers and get XP from them. If you avoid getting hit, you get more of a combo and gain more XP. Those points are spent to learn new moves and at shrines to upgrade abilities like additional HP on takedown or more guard meters. You can learn a move with your XP, but you lose it if you leave the level. To counter this, you can buy the skill five times and keep it with you until you delete that save. This encourages you to play a level, get enough XP to master a new move, and then leave to avoid aging too quickly. The shrine upgrades are only permanent if you beat the level.
Another thing to factor in are the weapons you can find in each level. Bad guys can carry them as well, so you need to watch out. As you play, you’ll have to choose to use weapons on weaker enemies or wait it out to use them on formidable enemies or even the bosses. Weapons will help you break the guard meter of enemies, which is how you do severe damage to bosses. At the same time, a baseball bat can break the guard of some weaker guards in a few hits, meaning you can clear rooms quickly.
However, there are some things I’m not too fond of in Sifu. For one, the dodge button and the dodge high/low button are two different buttons, which is odd. One is L1 and the other R2, which threw my brain for a loop. The framerate can also dip in combat, and that is no good. A couple of weird clipping issues resulted in enemies ending up behind me. I also think it would have been great to have a way of getting younger.
Fans of beat-’em-ups or kung fu movies will instantly fall in love with Sifu. If you can handle replaying levels multiple times, it’s a must buy.
in Game Reviews
in Game Reviews