Considering Sifu is launching next month, it’s unlikely we’ll hear about it coming to Xbox or Nintendo Switch soon. It could be released on other platforms in the future, but don’t get too excited. Sifu is in development by developer Sloclap, the team behind 2017’s Absolver. Although Absolver received criticism for its lackluster single-player elements, players appreciated that its multiplayer gave rise to tight, satisfying combat encounters. Sloclap is taking this prowess in understanding what makes battles so satisfying into Sifu, a single-player, beat-em-up about a man seeking vengeance against his family’s murderers.
Sloclap’s Sifu is a new martial arts brawler that features intense close-quarters action. The attention to detail in the outstanding sound design and harsh animations earned it a lot of attention. Although it was announced during Sony’s State of Play in February 2021 with plans for a 2021 release, it was ultimately postponed to 2022. Now, more than ever, we’re eager to get our hands on Sifu. Here’s all we know about it so far, including the release date, gameplay, and storey. Sifu will be released on February 8 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PC via the Epic Games Store. It’ll be $40 on all platforms at launch, but you can upgrade to the Deluxe Edition for an extra $10. A PlayStation Plus subscription can save you money.
What makes Sifu special is the visceral might of its animations and sound design. Every punch, kick and environmental takedown looks stylish and visceral. Choreography is an important part of what makes action sequences engrossing, as translating the strategic intricacies of hand-to-hand combat into a scene can be difficult.
Sifu’s creative director, Jordan Layani, practices Pak Mei under Sifu Benjamin Culos. This martial arts style is the game’s focus and the primary inspiration for the movesets. Players can’t select different combat styles, but that’s intentional as it’s an essential aspect of the game’s design. Another part of what makes Sifu unique is the aging mechanic. When the protagonist dies, they’ll come back to life many years older. And as the player gets older, they trade health for offensive power. While the player is at the death screen, they can unlock new skills to combat whatever took them down.
Slowcap has put extra attention in making Sifu look and feel like real martial arts. We see the protagonist use an enemy’s force against them, jabbing their elbow and throat before wrapping his palm around their neck and slamming them into the side of a bar. Animations seamlessly transition into one another as the protagonist ruthlessly strikes against someone’s face and chest before sweeping their legs. Players can also use weapons littered around the environment to spice up each encounter.
The player ages a number of years equivalent to how many times they’ve died. For example, the first death equates to one year of age, while the second causes them to age by two years. Players can lower this number by using a shrine or beating chapter bosses, but there is no way to get younger. If you die at a certain age, you will receive a game over. After a game over, the player will have to restart the chapter at the same age they were at that point. You can also spend even more experience points to unlock skills permanently.
While Sifu’s narrative elements are being kept close to the developer’s chest, there are a few enticing details we’re currently aware of. Our protagonist possesses a mysterious amulet that will revive them after death, with the caveat that it drains their life in exchange. Every failure causes them to age a little bit more, and while this ties strongly into the mechanics of the game, it is important to the values of Pak Mei, which was a core inspiration for the game.
Another key aspect of the game’s story is that our protagonist is fueled by vengeance. They’re on a desperate path of violence to get back at those who murdered his family. However, executive producer Pierre Tarno claims that there’s more to this than a straightforward tale of revenge. We aren’t aware of much else about the story, but it’s exciting to imagine where this narrative could go.
Sifu’s Deluxe Edition isn’t extravagant, as it only costs an additional $10 on top of the base game’s $40. It comes with the game, digital soundtrack and official digital artbook. This Deluxe Edition is available on PlayStation 4, PS5 and the Epic Games Store. Considering what we’ve heard of the soundtrack in trailers, it could be absolutely worth owning. It seems to have a satisfying punchiness that combines percussion and synths to build tension during each fight. Recommended requirements have yet to be revealed for Sifu, but we do know its minimum requirements. You’ll need Windows 7 or later, an Intel i5-7300U 3.5 GHz processor, Nvidia GTX 660 or AMD Radeon HD 7870 or equivalent DX11 GPU and 8GB of RAM. It’s not yet known the storage space required for the game.