Sifu Preview – Beating up an entire bar never gets old when it feels this good

Die and keep trying.

Sifu, the next game from the geniuses at Sloclap who created Absolver, one of the most underrated and innovative martial arts games in the last decade, is out next year on February 22nd. As you can probably tell from that sentence, I’m a fan of Sloclap, so I’m very much looking forward to getting absolutely stuck into Sifu and beating up armies of people who think they can take me on. You know, digitally.

Sifu has you playing through a classic Kung Fu revenge story as a youngster hunting down the people who murdered their family. They’re on their own, with no allies or assistance expected, but it’s no issue, because they have a powerful pendant that can bring them back to life, at the cost of one year of their life.

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In gameplay terms, this means you have a finite number of lives in the game, and that your abilities change as you age. While I don’t think I had access to the full skill tree in my preview, what I saw showed a glimpse of certain bonuses being locked behind different ages, which is an interesting way of doing things. It’ll no doubt also give a sense of urgency and tension to the full game too, but having only died three times in my time with the game, it’s not something that was captured in this short glimpse of Sifu.

Sifu Preview Bouncers

This is a private party

The preview I played allowed me to punch, kick, and yeet my way through a nightclub. Combat in Sifu could be most closely compared to that of a fighting game. You have a heavy and light attack, a dodge, parry, and the ability to string things together to pull off different attacks. It feels like Absolver in terms of the weight and satisfaction of each strike, but not really otherwise.

Before even getting into the club, I had to convince the bouncer to let me in. Naturally, this involved hitting him three times in the head, kicking him in the shins, and then using a special finishing move to smash him into the wall beside him. This is one of maybe three one-on-one fights I got to be involved in, and by far and away the easiest, but he still presented a significant challenge. The combat is meant to be introduced in an earlier part of the game, so I’m confident that he’s not meant to be that much of an obstacle, but it was a strong way to start the preview section.

After making my way in, I was confronted by the cloakroom person and several different dialogue options. I chose one, realised things were going to get violent anyway, so leapt over the counter and knocked them out before picking up a bat and pummelling their two friends. You hold the bat with a backhand grip, which is incredibly inefficient, but it does look exquisite, so I didn’t mind.

Sifu Preview Fighting

VIPs only

After that, it’s room after room of enemies, all crowded around a dance floor, leaning on the bar, or just chatting with one another. Until they spot you, that is, and decide to try and throw down. Most of them, while skilled, aren’t much of an issue, and taking them out is simple enough. You’ve just got to pick up a bottle and throw it at them, or slide a chair along the floor to take out their legs and you’re golden.

Every so often though, an enemy you try to use a finisher on pushes you away. At this point, they get a big fiery health bar and turn into a mini-boss of sorts. Suddenly you’ve got one definite threat to deal with, and whoever they’re being flanked by. It’s tough, and you need to think about where you are and what’s around you to avoid being overwhelmed.

You’ll mess up eventually though, and doing so allows you to get up and spend the experience points you’ve earned on skills before reentering the fray, but at the cost of one year of your life. It’s a really intriguing system, and I can’t say if it’s good or not without playing more of the game, but it feels full of potential.

Sifu Preview Table

A nice fair fight

Actually, that’s pretty much how I feel about the Sifu in general. Having only played a small taster of the game, I’m even more excited to see what the full game looks like with all of the mechanics in place fully. I’m also looking forward to watching players mastering the systems and trying to get through the game and remain as young as possible.

Also, as a lifetime martial arts fanatic, the fights just feel and look good. Pak Mei Kung Fu is a wonderfully cinematic style of fighting, and watching it represented in Sifu is an absolute joy. Also, please look up the pronunciation of Sifu before saying it out loud, you’ll thank me for it when you’re correct.

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