The members of the development team Sloclap they must be huge fans of martial arts. There's no other explanation for their dedication to beat 'em ups, firstly with the five-year-old multiplayer Absolver, which earned its own fan base, and secondly with the recent release of Sifu. A game that will be adored by those who have developed myopia from watching Bruce Lee movies, as well as relatively recent productions such as Oldboy or Kill Bill.

So following to the letter the basic principles of these films, which usually revolve around a revenge story, Sifu puts us in the shoes of the young son (or daughter - gender doesn't matter, except for appearance) of a kung-fu master of the Waguan school. One rainy night, a group of five shady characters invade the dojo and leave no one standing. And the leader of the group, Yang, whom we even control during the tutorial, in the inevitable duel with our teacher and father, kills him in relatively short order.

A glimpse of the view of our house before we beat the shit out of the world.

Of course, the plausible follow up is the kid escaping from the hands of the guys and seeking revenge a few years later. Indeed, that's what happens... but sort of. The kid also falls victim to their merciless wrath, but thanks to a mystery amulet, which origins are unknown, is resurrected. Fast forward eight years later and after our 20-year-old hero has trained very hard on the secrets of the art of kung-fu, he takes it upon himself to wash away the shame: all five must die.

In short, that's the premise of the game, which doesn't include any big surprises or twists, and is essentially the driving force behind some of the best battle scenes we've ever seen on our screens. Scenes that are not prefabricated by a director, but as a product of our reflexes, our perseverance, and most importantly, our patience.

The finishing moves are impressive, not often repeated, and give a little energy back.

Sifu belongs to those games that require full dedication and the player's focus on its mechanisms. If you had in mind that this is a "loose" beat 'em up like the ones we played as kids in arcade cabs, a result of the nice graphical aspect with its fine characters and simple environment design lines, you are sorely mistaken. Clearly, Sifu is not for you. If we could liken it to a recent title, it would be Sekiro, not because of any souls-like approach, which doesn't exist, but because of the strict timing and the quick reflexes required to get out of battles unscathed.

After all, the controls are very simple. There are just two attack buttons (light and heavy attack), one button for dodge and one for defense, which simultaneously acts as a parry if you block the attack at the right moment, but also as a quick dodge by properly swinging the stick (it goes without saying that you'll be playing with a gamepad) in the opposite direction of the incoming hit. With these as arrows in our quiver, plus Focus moves that are kind of like a wildcard for quick damage of limited use, we have to go through five levels, full of enemies of various types and sizes and defeating bosses one by one until the last one.

Battle without Honor or Humanity

Sound simple? Yes. Is it easy? Not at all. Particularly at the beginning of the game, when our hero is quite "raw" and we're unfamiliar with the mechanics, it's a matter of a few minutes to face the death screen. In Sifu, however, death is not the end. Thanks to the aforementioned amulet, we have the option of coming back to life, but growing in age by at least one year. And we say "at least", because the more often we lose at the same point, the bigger the age jump becomes, which can be as much as five or six years.

Ageing, apart from affecting our protagonist's wrinkles and hair, also has an impact on the gameplay of the game. On the one hand, because with each passing decade, the ratio of strength and stamina changes (we hit harder, we bear less of a beating), and on the other hand, it allows us to unlock some additional moves in our palmares. In particular, after each death and after the end of each level, we can unlock a move (e.g. a combo or a buff such as the very useful weapon durability), at the cost of a number of XP gained by killing off enemies. This move is given to us temporarily and specifically only for the "run" we have started. If we want to obtain it permanently, we have to buy it five times, spending a not so inconsiderable amount of XP. It is worth mentioning that some moves we are entitled to acquire until a certain age (e.g. 29). Then the bird flies...

If you want to train without consequences, there is a practice mode that does a good job.

The purpose of this mechanism is that the age we had up to the moment of the completion of a level is maintained in the next one. Therefore, if, for example, we completed the first level at the age of 40 (i.e. we lost a dozen times), we will always start the second level at the same age. The only way to become twenty years old again is to start a completely new run, but losing all the buffs and moves we bought, except for the permanent ones. If you're wondering why we would do this if we're immortal, the answer is... we're not immortal. If we get past 70th. year of our age and die, then we die for good. Therefore, as long as we remain old, we have less opportunities of resurrection, and therefore will be less likely of reaching the end of the game.

We've mentioned Sekiro before, and the reference to From Software's masterpiece was no accident. One important factor we have to take into account is the bar structure , which more or less works like Sekiro's posture. Both our hero and enemies have such a bar that fills up as they get hit and/or defend themselves. Once this bar is broken, we can then perform a finish move, which in addition to impressively finishing off the opponent, restores a small amount of lost energy. On the flip side, if we defend incessantly, without parry or dodge, and lock ourselves in our shell, it's only a matter of seconds (especially if we're facing a tough enemy) before our structure breaks and we're left uncovered.

I don't think all these people came here just to dance.

Something we certainly want to avoid, as in each area, we rarely face less than three or four enemies at the same time, who even more rarely attack us one by one. Sure, there are a few weaker ones who are punching bags, but if we let them surround us, they will charge us with less energy, which is highly necessary for the rest of the game. In any case, all opponents are capable of laying our hero out with a few and mostly sneaky moves: they have no qualms about hitting us from behind, with knives, staffs, swords, throwing bottles and anything else you can imagine. What did you expect, a fair treatment? The good news is that we can use them against them too, with extremely positive (for us) results.  

In general, the way we handle each situation is a matter of practice, correct positioning and quickly deciphering enemy movements. The more familiar we become with its rules, the better we become to the point where it is possible to not be touched at all for an entire level. Especially if you completed a level at age 38, when you could have been under 30 if you hadn't gotten hit in the head with that bottle or dodged the boss's unblockable move, and try again from the beginning just for that alone ... congratulations, you just "stuck" with Sifu.

Cleaning service has arrived...

This is no mean feat, as Sifu is clearly one of the most addictive games we've seen in recent years. Adopting a really simple, yet incredibly deep combat system, it creates an extraordinary sense of accomplishment every time a difficult sequence has a positive outcome. After all, the thin line between success and failure is entirely our responsibility, not because the game just decided to feel sorry for us or punish us. Unless the camera goes "crooked" and decides to do its own thing, in which case we will probably lose rather unfairly.

Sifu will show no mercy. It may not reach Sekiro's levels of paranoia, but it's a well thought out game that high challenge and martial arts enthusiasts will enjoy to the fullest. Even if the story's protagonists don't utter a word in Cantonese.



Sifu isn't for everyone, but its high challenge is perfectly combined with addictive gameplay and a unique combat system.

Γιώργος Δεμπεγιώτης

Lover of action, shooter, adventure, RPG's and sometimes racing games, he prefers mainly single-player gaming. Every now and then he breaks out into a multi, but he doesn't overdo it.


  1. Γαμώτο. Το κόνσεπτ και η καλλιτεχνική διεύθυνση με συγκινούν τα μάλα και έχω ιδιαίτερη αδυναμία στις αποκλειστικότητες του Παναγιότατου Τιμοθέου. Από την άλλη, ξέρω πως μονάχα μετά το 2035 θα μπορούσα ν’ασχοληθώ όπως πρέπει μαζί του και είναι κρίμα κι άδικο.

  2. αν και δεν είμαι των roque like games είιναι στα υπόψη για μελλοντική αγορά.
    Πολύ όμορφο και το review. Μπράβο.

  3. [QUOTE=”Borracho, post: 591821, member: 102590″]
    Γαμώτο. Το κόνσεπτ και η καλλιτεχνική διεύθυνση με συγκινούν τα μάλα και έχω ιδιαίτερη αδυναμία στις αποκλειστικότητες του Παναγιότατου Τιμοθέου. Από την άλλη, ξέρω πως μονάχα μετά το 2035 θα μπορούσα ν’ασχοληθώ όπως πρέπει μαζί του και είναι κρίμα κι άδικο.

    Δύσκολο. Τα αρθριτικά και η υψηλή πίεση δεν το επιτρέπουν.

Leave a Reply

Related Articles

Check Also
Back to top button