Sifu is now available on PlayStation consoles and PC. For the PC release it is limited to the Epic Game Store, which is fine for me because I tend to enjoy these single player games in peace than be disturbed every now and then with Steam chats. I managed to purchase this game for AUD$44.99 using the $15 Epic Store discount that was on offer around the time.
Before evening purchasing the game, I was already interested because I’ve been a practitioner in Wing Chun for close to ten years and this game paid homage to that time in my life. The game does a great job of capturing Kung Fu and the Wing Chun style, which places a heavy emphasis on punches and practical defense maneuvers. So no spinning cartwheel, double somersault kicks or flowery, deceptive hand movements. Wing Chun is about economy of movement and achieving victory with lest effort. I love the murder revenge and rival gangs elements as well.
Sifu is not a particularly long game if you manage to play it straight for 7 hours with a mastery of its gameplay, but you are honestly likely to spend much, much longer given you are going to take some time learning the game mechanics and you will be wanting to replay several runs, which is encouraged.
Sifu is a deceptively hard game to play. You play as a character who is a great martial artist who is seeking revenge but you need to time your actions and play with precision to maximize your game score while also reaching the end of a run without dying too much.
Your character can get progressively more talented as you complete runs. You can find up to three Jade Statues in each mission (which are easily missable) which allow you to unlock several skills such as increasing your focus meter, recovering more health when you land a takedown, increasing your focus meter, etc. The ones you want to focus on are the ones around Score, which are hard to acquire given that you are likely to find your first play throughs underwhelming and with low scores.
To help increase your score, you can taunt your enemy by pressing the “right” direction arrow on the gamepad when facing off against an enemy. This will increase your score multiplier by to 5 times. Be careful not to get hit, because each time you are damaged your score multiplier reduces. (And it is easy to get hit if you are not too careful.)
Another aspect of the game that is interesting is that each death causes the character to age. If you die, you add one to your death counter. So one death means 1 to the death counter. When you die with one death counter, you will age one year so dying at 20 will turn you into a 21 year old. If you die again, you will get another death counter, so 2 death counters. If you die again, you will age 2 years and turn from 21 years to 23 years. So if you die again, you will have 3 counters and so you will age from 23 to 26 years old. You can reduce your death counter by 1 each time you defeat certain bodyguards and bosses but you can never de-age. When you complete a run, you will start the next run with the age you finished the previous run.
As you age, you increase your damage but reduce your health. Once you reach age 70 and die, you can’t continue the run but can restart it.
To unlock more talents and moves, you have a skill tree which can be unlocked when you die or when you visit a Jade Statue. You need to use XP to unlock these new moves, the first XP spend will allow you to temporary use the new move in the run but it will not carry over. If you spend additional XP on the permanent unlock option you can unlock the move in subsequent runs. This is the only way to increase your changes of survival. I recommend unlocking some of moves that let you charge your heavy attacks and the one that lets you parry from the ground.
The game has almost endless amounts of replayability because replaying a level allows you to have a better run for the next run and you will want to reduce how old you become because certain moves and skills are locked after you reach certain ages.
This game is not easy and you will want to spend some time carefully learning how to dodge, parry and block. This game feels like Batman Arkham series in the way it plays, but it is far more punishing and requires more skills and patience to complete and perfect. Failing doesn’t feel like failing in this game, you will learn and improve each and every time.
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