Announced in February 2021, Absolver developer Sloclap revealed their next project: the kung fu game Sifu.
Over the past nine months, Sloclap has slowly shown more mechanics of the PlayStation exclusive, including gameplay, an aging system, combat, and more.
Pegged to release less than one year after its announcement, here is everything that we know about Sifu so far.
The Sifu story and trailer
Sifu is an action-adventure beat’em up with a king fu theme. It’s Sloclap’s next release following the success of their earlier game, Absolver. Sloclap indicated that they wanted to focus on a single-player game rather than a multiplayer one, which is where Sifu enters.
Sifu is a flowing fighting game that allows you to move around freely and utilize your environment. While the focus is on kung fu, sometimes the use of a weapon just delivers a stronger message.
The game also introduces a unique aging system that pairs with the combat system, and understanding both will be key to beating the game.
Sifu is a single-player kung fu game in which the protagonist seeks revenge for the assassinations of their family. As the main character, you will battle hordes of enemies in the streets, in buildings, stairwells, towers, and more, using the lead character’s martial art skills and environment to defeat your foes.
You can play as either a man or woman, with the game taking place over the course of a single night. With five confirmed assassins, you can expect to play at least five chapters, if not a sixth to take out the mastermind of the operation – assuming that they are not among the five.
Sifu’s combat system overview
Sifu is primarily a fighter, in which you will face enemies in different settings such as the nightclub in the above video.
Reminiscent of Sleeping Dogs, you are equipped with and can obtain skills to make your martial art that much more deadly. You can also use your environment to your advantage, throwing enemies off of balconies or into objects.
Sifu also allows you to use almost anything as a weapon. You can grab a bottle from the bar, use a padded seat, a broom, and deadlier weapons like knives and bats. It appears that certain items – like the bat – also have associated skill upgrades. Sifu also allows you to freely move around the environment, preventing you from being boxed in by a swarm of enemies.
If you had to home in on what is the main aspect of the combat system, it would be balance. Balance is the key to either inflicting damage or suffering it yourself.
You will have a Structure gauge that indicates the balance of you and your enemies. If you break their gauge by filling it, you can take them down and perform a Devastating Technique. However, if your gauge is broken, you will be unable to fight and defend for a short duration – essentially leaving you stunned and vulnerable to damage.
Your gauge fills when you block attacks, so the game incentivizes you to dodge and, most importantly, parry. Dodging attacks results in zero damage, of course, but parrying your opponent’s attacks will briefly stun them and allow you to inflict damage, possibly a takedown.
Sifu’s marketing director, Félix Garczynski, said in a PlayStation Blog post that they want the player to feel like the main character in a kung fu movie. He added that with Sifu, they wanted to keep the aesthetic of classic kung fu movies while mixing that with the close-quarters combat of recent films like The Raid, Oldboy, or John Wick.
With kung fu meaning “mastery through practice,” the game challenges you to improve with each sitting. So, button-mashing will literally just lead to your continued death. Speaking of death…
Sifu’s unique aging system explained
A unique feature in Sifu is the aging system that pairs with the combat system. As the video states above, Sloclap wanted to make death a part of the journey.
In the top left corner of the screen, you will see your age displayed. When you die, you can retry – and possibly upgrade some skills that may help you to get past the trouble spot – by using an ancient pendant, with the trade being your life force.
However, each time that you resurrect yourself, the faster you will age, depending on how many times you have died (39 to 40 to 42 to 45). You can even reach your Final Death as your life force is limited.
You start as a 20-year-old, seeking revenge in one night against the five people who murdered your family. However, as Garczynski noted in another PlayStation Blog post detailing the aging system: “our young student does not have the luxury of an entire life ahead of them to improve their kung fu.”
While aging doesn’t have any drawbacks in regards to your abilities, you trade maximum health for more power as you age. While you will be able to inflict more damage, your ability to sustain damage will be lessened. The only other impact is that the main character will show the signs of aging on their face.
You can reset your death counter at shrines dotted throughout levels and by beating chapter bosses. Clearing chapters will reset your death counter, but the aging mechanic in Sifu does not allow for a reverse aging process (you can never lower your age in Sifu).
Upon a Final Death, you will lose all of your unlocked skills and upgrades. However, you can permanently unlock some by using your experience points.
A saved checkpoint is created at the completion of each chapter with your age, allowing you to begin the next chapter from that save point or retry that chapter for a better result (younger age). If you do die a Final Death, as long as you have cleared the first chapter, then all is not lost.
Lastly, you have a Detective Board that keeps a record of all of the information that you have come across in your playthroughs, including on the five assassins and any special or unlocked rooms that you cleared in previous runs. This means that, even after a Final Death, you can access this information to make your next playthrough a bit easier.
What is the Sifu release date?
The new Sifu release date is February 8, 2022, on PlayStation consoles. It was originally scheduled to release on February 22, 2022. However, as seen above, Sloclap announced on November 18 that Sifu will release two weeks earlier than expected as a fully digital game.
There are two editions of Sifu: Standard and Deluxe. The Standard Edition is $39.99 (£32.99/€39.99) and only includes the game. The Deluxe Edition includes a copy of the game as well as the digital soundtrack and digital artbook, costing $49.99 (£39.99/€49.99). If you are a PS+ subscriber, the Deluxe Edition is $44.99 (£35.99/€44.99) through to February 21, 2022, but this may change due to the new Sifu release date.
Will you achieve mastery through practice in Sifu? Can you master the combat and aging systems? Become your own kung fu movie star with Sifu come February 8, 2022!