Being able to pull off flashy fighting moves and taking down a bunch of goons, with nothing but your wits and your fists, is an empowerment fantasy shared by many. Martial arts are mystical and beautiful for all the right reasons.
Video games have adapted this empowerment fantasy for a long time, but Sifu perfects it.
Names like Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Jet Li are etched into the memory of anyone born in the 90's. Sifu is directly inspired by the Hong Kong action films from that era.
The release of 'Sifu', by Sloclap Studio, went mostly unnoticed during the first two weeks. However, things slowly started to look better as they garnered up one of the highest weekly ratings on steam. The reviews were very positive with many of the players describing it to be a unique and fun experience.
The plot of the game is nothing too swashbuckling or exuberant. It is a fairly simple and partly generic revenge story as many have already gleaned from the trailers and the marketing. A boy witnesses the death of his father at the hands of his former martial arts student, and grows up seeking revenge.
While many gamers seek to be enthralled by the story of a game, you will not find something too substantial here. Sifu, however, makes up for it with its twitch based, frenetic gameplay. The game takes the core of martial arts skills, which takes a lifetime to master, and the necessity of precise execution of combat techniques very seriously. The game's difficulty is what sets it apart from its contemporaries.
To put it simply, Sifu is a beat 'em up with a heavy emphasis on the martial arts aspect. But it is not one of your traditional 2D action fighting games like Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter. Instead, the player has full third person control as seen in games like Dragon Ball: Xenoverse or Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm.
The style of martial art used in the game is based on Pak Mei Kung Fu, an ancient discipline. This technique demands fluid movement as well as explosive attacks. Precision is key to truly mastering the game. While most fighting games stick to their bread-and-butter combos and restricted movements, Sifu breaks that cycle by letting the players test their own instincts. This becomes even more crucial during boss fights.
The game also lets the players make heavy use of their environment and, breaking away from common fighting game tropes, it lets players use various weapons. The weapon can be used in different forms while some can even be used as projectiles.
Death and aging are core elements in Sifu's gameplay. When a player dies, they can come back to life at the cost of aging a number of years. As the player character ages, it will affect your health, damage output, and the abilities you can learn. Your character's age will dictate your gameplay style.
There are only five levels in the game, and every level is broken up by two boss fights. In between the boss fights, there will be hordes of underlings which the player has to fight through.
Sifu is a martial arts simulator at its core. Everything the player does and every action they take has consequences. It pays to be attentive. The fluid animation and stunning art styles add to the stunning graphics, and the gameplay feels very involved. If you are a fan of the martial arts and you enjoy challenging gameplay, this is a title definitely worth checking out.