Sifu: the preview of the new game from the creators of Absolver

Sifu: the preview of the new game from the creators of Absolver


Sloclaps are clearly passionate about martial arts. We had already seen this in Absolver - a game unable to fully respect its ambitions, but still capable of distinguishing itself for the combat system and the spectacularity of the clashes - and their new child, Sifu, only confirms the obvious.

Sifu's intent is nothing short of crystal clear: to insert the player in a kung movie, a story of revenge populated by dozens and dozens of enemies to be eliminated in quick succession as the best emulator of Bruce Lee. Be careful though, because if on the one hand Sifu's concept may seem of rare simplicity, the same cannot be said of his gameplay. We saw it in action recently thanks to a presentation kindly offered by Cosmocover, and believe us when we tell you that it will not be a welcoming title for those without quick reflexes.

Let's find out why in the preview of Sifu.

Narrative: a lifelong revenge

Sifu: not always dancing in clubs As just stated, Sifu is a story of revenge, with a (or one, since it is possible to select the gender of one's alter ego) protagonist in search of those who have eliminated his family. The Sloclaps didn't go into particular detail, but they did point out that the plot is not without mysticism and unnatural elements, so it will be interesting to see how it develops. The only real confirmation concerns an unspecified "detective board", related to the information obtainable during the levels (some enemies can be interrogated), which however seems to be linked more to the management of the levels than to the narrative. Obtaining specific passwords, for example, could open previously inaccessible passages and allow you to pass levels more quickly, facilitating their completion without facing too many clashes. Something useful to say the least, given what we discovered later.

The game's aging mechanics (shown in practically all its trailers), in fact, is a curious double-edged sword directly related to the player's skill. The more you die, the more your character advances in age, and in doing so he gets more precise and harmful attacks. At the same time, however, aging causes a decrease in life points, making you more and more vulnerable to enemy hits.

You age excessively and you will no longer be able to fight, let alone carry out your revenge. A similar structure rewards the most skilled players, who will reach the next stages of the campaign still in their prime, while those most likely to fall to the mat will now reach the end of their journey (but with significantly increased damage).

Dying, however, does not mean having to start all over again: the game has specific checkpoints, and if you get to the next level older than you want you can go back and try to complete it all without leaving your skin (and with a large amount of information on the level and positioning of the enemies things are obviously easier). Doing so, however, will put you to the test.

Gameplay: everybody is kung fu fighting

Sifu: the protagonist, already a little aged Sifu goes, in fact, against the very nature of combat systems on which it is based. The fundamental mechanics related to the coupling system and movement are in fact extremely similar to those of free flow systems - targeting the closest enemy, rhythmic opponent attacks with a few simultaneous assaults, final blows, and automated movement during basic attacks - but where the games that normally use these mechanics focus everything on accessibility, Sloclap's work seems to want to do the exact opposite, fielding a whole series of additional maneuvers and complex defensive mechanics, which must necessarily be mastered to survive extreme aggression of enemies.

To say, defensive mechanics already offer three possibilities: a parry, a directional kickback, and dodging. Parrying normally is the easiest thing, but it does not protect against weapon damage and fills a bar that if pushed to the limit breaks your guard (also applies to enemies); dodging is instead a very fast maneuver able to avoid almost any opponent's assault, yet it prevents instant offensive responses and slightly distances you from the opponents, favoring a more defensive approach; finally the bounces are directional blocks (they should require you to use the block together with the analog stick) useful against the most powerful attacks, which offer enormous advantages but at the same time seem much more risky to use. Add to all this the presence of extra moves directly related to defensive maneuvers and enemies capable of using techniques that are varied to say the least, and you will realize how quickly things get complicated in Sifu.

Sifu: watch out for that bottle The offensive phase, if nothing else, is much more basic than defense and seems to be limited to a handful of easily executed variable effect combos. In the various levels, however, the environmental interactivity is very high and between rapid movements around the map (we saw the protagonist climbing walls and jumping beyond various furniture to get away from groups of enemies) and the possibility of using various improvised weapons there is no shortage of surprises also from this point of view. Moreover, what is not offered by the combinations is usually guaranteed by some advanced maneuvers, among which there are holds that reposition the enemies and useful knockdowns to get a little breath between one blow and another. It is not yet clear how these skills will be learned (it seems that the team is still making considerations about it), but it is also nice to see that there is a progression system in the campaign.

Difficulty: beating up barrel, all night

Sifu: an iron pipe is always an excellent improvised weapon Yes, because the level of challenge as already mentioned is very high and not only for the considerable number of opponents to be fought at the same time in each scene . The damage taken is generally high and it only takes a few hits to get to a spit of life. There do not seem to be any healing powers (one regenerates automatically in certain phases or only a little with takedowns), and the presence of a special "focus bar" only guarantees to use powerful techniques - attacks that slow down time, with the specific choice of "pressure points" you want to hit - against a single opponent, making life easier mostly in clashes with particularly annoying enemies. The behavioral patterns of the enemy artificial intelligence are, however, really difficult to read: the basic henchmen are limited to series of simple blows and parry a few blows, but we have observed warriors specialized in kicks perform unstoppable sets and very fast moves, and beefy beasts grapple and suddenly charge between combinations. Yes, in short, don't think you can get away with pressing a couple of buttons around here; it's not that kind of action.

Sifu a dangerous corridor In a nutshell, Sifu is a basic concept with a complex execution: a game where what to do and how it is immediately clear, but achieving one's goal seems require quick reflexes, study and training. We are clearly in front of a title designed to be fairly hardcore and replayable and perhaps the bulk of its charm will be right here (also because the campaign, on the nose, does not seem to be able to last very long given the structure of the game and the mechanics of the age).

Sifu clearly does not want to be a title for everyone: it is a reworking of pre-existing combat systems in a hardcore key, which seems to want to focus everything on the player's reactivity to dangerous situations and on the management of battles in highly interactive maps . The idea excites us and we are really curious to see if the Sloclaps have managed to perfectly balance their latest creation. There is still a little to go before it arrives, and there are still a lot of elements to adjust, but we can't wait to play it.


Interesting and rather elaborate combat system Difficulty apparently high, which rewards the skill of the player Concept full of potential DOUBTS Progress system still to be clarified Duration and effective validity of the campaign still to be evaluated Have you noticed any errors?

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