Sifu - Before You Buy

Sifu - 4k 60fps

And we're back with another episode of "Before You Buy That Show." We give you some straight-up gameplay and our first impressions of the latest games released, and as usual, it's me. And today we're talking about sifu. This game is something else. It's for PS5, PS4, and PC, and it's been on our radar since it was first revealed.

What seemed like a simple and stylish brawler kung fu game is actually something even cooler and more challenging and involved than you'd expect if you're willing to put some time in and don't mind grinding to absolute perfection. You have a freaking absolute thrill ride of a game here, man. I'll explain why as we go.

Just so you know, we've been playing a review copy of the game for about a week now, and all of the footage here is captured on PS5. And it's spoiler free. Now sifu is a light revenge tale as a young boy or girl. You get to choose, which is pretty cool. You witness a family member being murdered, and then you train and grow up and set out to kill each member of the group that did it.

Sifu - 60fps

Now the game is structured, pretty much, into five lengthy levels with a boss at the end. That might not sound like a lot, but believe me, unless you're an absolute god at article games and this clicks immediately for you, then you're going to be spending double-digit hours in this game. It takes a second to explain it all, but it's interesting and worth it.

So you go through each tightly designed level, engaging in the combat. Which is extremely challenging, but if you die, you pretty much instantly come back a year older. Now keep getting your ass kicked and you will come back older and older as the years stack due to certain parameters, so as you get older, you obviously look older, but you also have less health and you get hit a bit harder because, you know, like life experience and stuff.

As you get too old and die in your 70s, it's game over. As you progress through the levels, you're able to use points to unlock new moving skills, unlock them multiple times, and then you lock them in. The main move set is totally fine and good, but some of these extra special moves are really useful, especially for very specific use cases.

Sifu - age

Many of them are kind of harder to pull off, but sometimes worth it. And as you age, you potentially lose access to trying to unlock some of these. They actually get blocked out. I guess that's the game saying something like you can't teach an old dog new tricks, which if you think about it, is really clever.

You can also find little statues that you can spend xp on to unlock stuff like stronger weapon use, more block meter, and stuff like that. Now, if you complete a level, you unlock and start the next level at the age you were at the end of the previous level, so you're only ever as good as your last, best playthrough.

If you don't want to start a level as a 60-year old man who can die in a few hits and get game over after just a few encounters. You're going to want to go back and replay previous levels, and really replay them over and over again and master them so you can finish it as a younger man or woman and start the next level as a younger man or woman way better off and really master them.

Sifu - before you buy

But the levels are nicely designed, cool, and varied, but not procedurally generated. You're always the same but always difficult with these unpredictable enemies, so you're going to be replaying and grinding out bosses a lot, hoping to come out on top in better shape for your progression forward.

Now it gets a little better because careful examination will reveal some shortcuts. I'll get more of that type of thing in a little bit, but the actual combat itself, like the sweet, sweet bread and butter of this game, is so good. I loved the combat. It's challenging and it's demanding. Even the lowest enemy can mess you up in a few hits, but you have a good set of tools at your disposal.

You have light attacks or heavy attacks; a trip maneuver; a kind of push maneuver; a bit of a throw; and items and weapons you pick up in the environment. You also have a meter that you can burn to do special attacks that you'll unlock that are usually unblockable, which is nice. On the defensive side, which is really the bigger thing, you can block and parry.

Sifu - challenge

There's a dodge that's really only good for specific situations. And also the ability to weave, kind of dodge, high and low. Each of these things has specific use cases. Of course, you have a block meter that enemies are trying to erode, but the enemies themselves also have one, so you're trying to wear theirs down and then you can do sick ass finishers on enemies, so these work great for also avoiding attacks and other incoming enemies because they act kind of like a can.

Now it may look on screen like enemies are just attacking one by one, but actually most of the time, if your positioning is bad, they'll all try to pound on you at once, so you're constantly trying to bob and weave and block and parry dudes and try to continue to chain counter finisher to finisher.

Sifu - difficulty

Now it's really like a lot of challenging games, so there are a few enemies that just feel kind of total. You know, until you crack the code, like until you figure out exactly how to defend against them, they'll just spam blast you until you learn the ropes, including some of the bosses. Now it is an incredibly rewarding combat system that always feels badass and satisfying.

You know, the feedback is great, especially with the dual sense controller features, and it just makes you feel cool. Not to mention a lot of the fighting sound effects are absolutely perfect. The game has tons of amazing encounters, from wiping out clubs or drug dens almost like John Wick style with your fists, to really special old boy style hallway moments that kind of change the camera's perspective.

Even when you're getting your ass beat, the game is just so impressive. The only thing that can be god-awful is the camera itself. The camera is going to screw you over a lot. It can be frustrating. I noticed it, especially during a boss battle or two, where it would just unacceptably lag. My vision is for like a very crucial second or in certain fights where characters can do flying jump kicks from off-screen.

Sifu - fighting game

It's such a bummer for sure and like there are some settings in the options menus, but I really hope they can clean this up with an update because otherwise I think the gameplay is near perfect, at least for me personally, just satisfying, ass kicking that I was really hoping for with this game. The levels and the moments are so cool and each and every individual one is so memorable that I enjoyed endlessly replaying these levels, even if it could be painful.

Sifu PC, PS5, PS4 is an action combat game with challenging and creative twists.
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