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SIFU Review


 

Developer: Sloclap

Publisher: Sloclap, Microïds

Reviewed on: PS5

Also available on: PS4, PC

Release: 8th Feb 2022

Rating: M

Price: $59.95

 

There are many games out there that are designed to test your patience but, Sifu is one such experience that’s equally as satisfying as it is trying. Sifu, developed by Sloclap, is an action game that packs a punch in more ways than one.


The game’s structure is based around fighting through a small number of levels, clearing out rooms of foes and taking out a boss at the end. As you move through your journey, should you be defeated, you’ll be able to come back but there’s a catch. Upon returning, you will have aged a few years. Aging will decrease your maximum health but will increase the damage you deal to your opponents. Your age will carry over to each level and create an age checkpoint.



Additionally, once you reach a certain age, you’ll no longer be able return and you will need to restart the level at the age you were originally. This system is quite compelling as it forces you to try finish each level with as few defeats as possible. Having a high damage output and low health may be beneficial for normal foes but may become exceedingly difficult against bosses but, the choice is ultimately yours.


The core gameplay consists of some of the quickest and smoothest melee combat in recent memory. You chain together quick jabs, leg sweeps and front kicks in order to break your opponent’s guard and hit them with a takedown. Now, there is a level of difficulty here that can feel a little overwhelming at first but, the game is designed in such a way that encourages you to learn each attack and how to block them as you aim to finish the level at the lowest age possible. For however much the game feels punishing, there is an equal amount of satisfaction when you finally get it right.



The takedown finishers look absolutely amazing. They’re animated in a way, and at such a high speed, that really puts you in the action as you feel the weight of each blow. There are also just so many different takedowns, all triggered by the context of where you are in a given fight be it near a wall, in the open, next to a bar or on the ground.


The only thing I found a little troublesome at times was the camera. If you’re backed against a wall, it may take a little too long for the camera to adjust when you move away from the wall and it can throw off the flow of the fight. The camera also seems to change which shoulder it hangs over, which can feel a little weird considering that third-person games usually have more consistent camera placement.



Sifu has an art style that can be described as being quite simple on the surface. Even so, there’s a calming blend of soft lighting and minimally detailed textures that really makes the game pop and standout from other titles of its kind. In other words, Sifu doesn’t try to look super realistic in any way which is quite nice as it really helps to keep the focus on the gameplay. There’s just enough detail to know exactly what’s happening around you but not too much that it’s distracting if it faulters.


All of the gameplay is held together by a beautifully intense soundtrack that does an excellent job of holding the pace no matter the situation you may find yourself in. Sifu can be painfully challenging and immensely satisfying in equal measure. There’s a clever simplicity in its art style that’s paired with exciting melee combat that keeps you on the edge of your seat all throughout. Even if it feels frustrating at first, there’s just so much fun to be had on the gruelling journey through Sifu.



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