We’ve played Sifu: the beat ’em up that you should keep track of if you like martial arts movies

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My favorite sequence from Sang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings is the bus.. For those of you who haven’t seen the movie, this is its most earthly action scene, though no less spectacular for that. Without going into spoilers, I will only say that it narrates a fight on a line bus and that, although it may seem otherwise, its filming it was a lot more handmade than you might expect. I like it precisely because of the physicality transmitted by each of the blows it delivers. Simu Liu, as well as by the physical capacity of which it shows. Far from the fantasy that the rest of the story presents, that moment is more reminiscent of the acrobatic choreographies of Jackie Chan, an actor who managed to redirect us, many children of the nineties, to the martial arts cinema. If you are one of those (or one of those), surely you ended up traveling through works such as Hard to Kill, The Grandmaster The The Raid, immersing yourself in the filmography of Bruce Lee or enjoying like a dwarf the mythical confrontation between Neo and Morpheus. If so, Sifu is for you.

The unknown Sifu

In February 2021, as part of a fairly decaffeinated State of Play, Sifu was one of the ads that aroused the most interest. He did not make big headlines (surely it was not his intention either), but he did was able to capture the attention of a specific niche, that of everyone who continues to enjoy a good portion of cakes. The reason? The apparent ability of your gameplay to convey every hit, and a combat system completely glued to Kung-Fu. Its visual style and its sensational animations put the icing on the cake to a work signed by the French studio sloclap (with the director Jordan Serve at the head), authors of Absolve (2017), a title completely focused on martial arts, which left its audience more than satisfied.

Contrary to what happened with its first game, here the multiplayer mode has been completely omitted, to focus attention on building a single player experience that, by refining the base of its previous combat system, aims to introduce the player into the shoes of a Kung-Fu master; someone capable of facing a dozen opponents, in unison, and come out with flying colors. Gets it.

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Learning to hit with the controller

Like almost all action schemes that enjoy a certain elegance in the video game, the one of Sifu part of a simple premise that, little by little and based on nuances, becomes more complicated. From the outset, we must have three buttons present: X and Y for weak and strong blows, and LB (if you play with the Xbox controller, as was my case) to enter guard and block or dodge (using the left stick). From there, a whole range of combos and different combinations are opened that will allow us to improve, slowly, but without pause, until we have mastered the grammar of a combat system designed for us to express ourselves with elegance.

Its lowpoly look, combined with its cool art direction, gives it great solidity.

To the classic combinations of combos we must add some final attacks (that will restore part of our life), which are executed by pressing Y and B in unison (in the purest Bayonetta style. In addition, we can use stage objects, such as bottles, stools or bats, and we will have a special bar that, when filled, will allow us to directly attack an opponent’s nerve point. This is how a combat is articulated in which the most important thing ends up being rhythm. The fists, the kicks and the dodge will flow when we are able to adapt to the pulse of the confrontation, dodging blows to counterattack an enemy before moving on to another, making him retreat and, immediately afterwards, launching a sweep behind us in order to buy some time. You know, honoring the famous “… be water, my friend”.

The system works, indeed. But beyond that, which will end up making you go back to Sifu every time you see the screen of game over (eye that is not an easy title) is the taste of serving a good chestnut. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in favor of going through life handing out bullets, quite the opposite. But nevertheless, the feedback that Sifu applies to each attack is incredibly satisfyingMuch like jumping in a Mario, shooting in Destiny or clashing swords in Sekiro. The hit is Sifu’s heart, and the hit beats hard enough to breathe life into the game.

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Individual battles will demand our full attention when it comes to dodging and blocking the opponent’s blows.

Experience pays off over time

This does not mean that there are no things to polish. From the outset, I think it would be necessary to give a turn to both the management of the camera and the fixation of enemies. Both aspects have somewhat irregular behaviors, capable of the best and the worst, something that sometimes It can be frustrating, especially in the most demanding matches, so a couple of adjustments in this regard would not hurt. Nothing that cannot be solved in the almost two months that remain until its launch.

Paste, in Sifu, is so comforting that we have not yet delved into its structure; another of its great attractions. The game begins in a Kwoon (the classic Kung-Fu training room) from which you can access an instantiated phase titled “The Club”. After entering a local party, and asking amicably for a certain person, it did not take long to go wrong. From that moment on I had to distribute firewood until I reached the end. Simple. For its part, the map, in addition to having a simple but extremely effective setting, serves to structure different types of matches ranging from small crowds to tough individual matches.

In the Kwoon we can unlock new techniques and train to perfect our combos.

It didn’t take me long to fall for the first time, in fact just a couple of blunders and four or five strokes are enough to see how our life bar leaves us. At that time the game gives you the opportunity to resurrect in exchange for several years of the character’s life. When we return, we do it with a lower resistance, but with a greater efficiency. Every time we die, we will get older and older, progressively, until we end up becoming an old man, over seventy years old, who can’t take many stakes, but gives out that it’s a pleasure. On that path to wisdom, we will have the opportunity to learn different techniques, which we can unlock as long as we have the necessary punctuation for it. A) Yes, Sifu he manages to represent, quite explicitly, the learning that can be drawn from defeat.

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Sifu breathes through Kung-Fu

This interesting mode of progression is something that I have not been able to explore excessively. What I have immersed myself in, fully, has been in their combat. I have died dozens of times and have returned to the ring as many times, captivated by their animations and by their way of posing that action, almost handmade, so typical of martial arts cinema that I mentioned earlier. In sloclap They knew that this was the core of their game, and in that direction they directed their greatest efforts: they came to someone like Benjamin Asses, master of Kung-Fu (with more than 30 years of experience behind him) formed by great martial arts such as Chan Yau Man, Lao Wei Kei and Lao Wei San, to act as an advisor, and it shows. Thanks to your participation, the title elegantly displays the style of Bak Mei, one of the five legendary elders who survived the destruction of the Shaolin Monastery, who has been represented in many fictions, and that you will remember for his representation in Kill Bill: Volume 2 under the identity of Pai Mei.

It is true that there is still much to see and that, from what has been proven, we can say that there are still things to improve. But in essence, we are talking about a video game that pivots, completely, around Kung-Fu. From that fixation on how to paste, he manages to transfer the beat ’em up, something that, as a general rule, has not given good results.

That is his path and, for the moment, he has started it on the right foot, setting the pace through those dry and accurate blows, which he transfers with the greatest of successes in command. That, I think, is the best feeling that could leave me Sifu, what does teacher mean, and what he comes willing to teach us Kung-Fu.

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