NEED TO KNOW
RELEASE February 22, 2022
Kung fu brawler Sifu is about “mastery through practice”, and after watching a gameplay demonstration, I can confirm that beating up an entire apartment building like Iko Uwais is going to take more than button mashing. But make too many mistakes on this single-player revenge journey, and you’ll age into dust before gaining satisfaction.
Sifu looks and sounds similar to Absolver, developer Sloclap’s previous game – those thwap thwap thwap hit effects are still super satisfying – but its fighting system isn’t a copy. Absolver’s combat involved a cool moveset customisation menu where players could mix-and-match combat styles and build combos that flowed between stances, and Sifu doesn’t have an equivalent. All of Sifu’s moves are inspired by Pak Mei Kung Fu, which its creative director personally practices.
Sifu does include “over 150 attacks” to work with, though, and a lot of the moves will be unlocked as you play through the campaign. A few of the skills I saw were Pushback Cancel, which introduces a way to negate shoves, Crooked Foot, which adds the option to perform a throw after a successful parry, and Rush Slide Kick, which is what it sounds like. I’ll miss Absolver’s drunken-style Stagger combos, which I doubt the real-life Pak Mei school endorses, but it looks like we’ll still have the opportunity to develop a personal fighting style in Sifu.
Also like Absolver, you won’t have to use your thumb to shine your controller’s d-pad with endless Street Fighter quarter-circles; the ‘mastery’ here isn’t mastery of complex input patterns. Mapped to an Xbox controller, two of the ‘base combos’ I saw in the menu went X, X, X, X, X and X, X, Y, as examples. Sifu will support mouse and keyboard play with remappable controls, executive producer Pierre Tarno confirmed. (I think I’ll go with a controller myself.)
I imagine there’ll be at least a little sweating over input memorisation, but the demonstration I saw focused on timing, forethought, movement, and crowd control. There are just two attack buttons, light and heavy. The other two controller face buttons are bound to ‘pick up weapon’ and interact/vault. It’s more than vaulting, really: at one point the protagonist scurried up a wall, escaping from a group of fighters.
Another way to deal with multiple enemies is to take advantage of each combo’s ‘tactical opportunities’ such as knockdown, pushback and stun effects.
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