Sifu, a game made by the French studio Sloclap, is a kung-fu based action/fighting game set in China with plenty of authentic moves, locations and visuals. The story is pretty bare bones, but it definitely does its job.
The prologue which sets the events of the game in motion stars the big, bad antagonist named ‘Yang’ and his mission to beat up a bunch of kids and then their teacher. The sole survivor (the protagonist) then spends the next eight years training, so that he can beat up Yang and his many goons.
While there are only five missions, they are all very demanding when it comes to skill. The name of the game is to beat each level with the fewest deaths possible, and that means learning every move, every combo and replaying every level a dozen times over if you want that sweet high score.
What sets Sifu apart from other games is its mechanics; while Sifu does have some of the usual button mashing, the controls for its moves are very streamlined, meaning you don’t have to play Twister just to do a takedown.
The major selling point of the game is the ‘Age system’: where every time the player dies, you gain a year. As you age, you do better damage at the cost of health, meaning that while you can hit like a truck, you will get your ass whooped by the weakest of grunts. Dying will age you up slightly before dropping you right where you died. A great example of the ‘fight, drop and keep fighting’ schtick.
Alongside the age mechanic there are the shrines. Using them lets you heal and pick new skills — some being quite powerful — with XP obtained through gameplay. These skills can either be bought temporarily (for the duration of that mission) or permanently for the duration of the entire save slot (of course, you can still lose it when you get too old or when you delete the slot).
So, Sifu is an action-packed Kung-Fu brawler set in the urban jungles of China, and while it’s painfully hard, it’s received critical acclaim from most of the gaming journalism industry. It’s currently on the Epic Games store, and while there are plenty of gripes that people have with Epic, it’s still a great buy.