Somehow, we’ve managed to make it to the end of 2022, so with that in mind, we’re celebrating some of the best games to have launched in the past 12 months. Today, we’re achieving inner peace through outward violence with Sifu.
Truthfully, I’d almost forgotten that Sifu had launched in the past 12 months. That’s not a knock on the quality of Sifu, as it’s still a brilliant and beautiful ballet of hand-to-hand violence, it’s just that there’s been a deluge of brilliant games in 2022. Between Elden Ring, Vampire Survivors and Midnight Fight Express, the top of my GOTY list is looking pretty stacked already, but we shouldn’t forget about Sifu. If nothing else, it deserves better than to be weirdly considered a fighting game at The Game Awards 2022.
Note: this was written before TGA happened, so if Sifu does actually win the Best Fighting Game award, I’m going to be livid.
People might have had issues with Sifu’s claim of “authenticity”, given the fact that Sloclap are a French studio making a game about Asian martial arts and culture, but if nothing else, Sifu was an excellent and loving homage to the world of kung fu cinema, both old and new. If you can think of a martial arts film, chances are there are elements of it in play within Sifu.
Even from the first level, you know you’re in for a martial arts thrill ride when Sifu masterfully recreates the Oldboy hallway fight scene. We’ve already devoted some time talking about how masterful that scene is in letting the player know where Sifu’s influences lie, but it’s a feeling that permeates throughout the whole game. During each of the game’s levels, you’ll find situations and little Easter Eggs that’ll make you think “oh, I see where they got that from”.
The whole first level, aside from the Oldboy scene, feels like it was lifted from The Raid, with one unstoppable badass tearing his way through criminals across derelict buildings and drug labs. You move on to the second level’s Club scene, and the whole aesthetic shifts to something more like John Wick for half the level, with lots of neon lights and brutal takedowns.
Meanwhile, the nature of the game’s camera and the environmental props scattered around the level makes Sifu feel like the one take restaurant scene of The Protector crossed with any Jackie Chan movie. You kick chairs at people’s legs and they fall on their faces, it never gets old. Until they start dodging, then it gets scary.
Crucially, Sloclap has been updating Sifu with more content over the past year, with difficulty modes, including easier and harder modes so that everyone can be satisfied, along with new modifiers and outfits. However, the biggest update is still to come (at the time of writing), which will allow players to edit their own replays to create as many cool clips as they want to. It’s tools like this which could help inspire a new wave of martial arts directors. Just imagine what Twitter user SunhiLegend is going to do with it.
There’s every possibility that Sifu passed you by over the past year, and that’s not surprising. A lot has happened, and there’ve been plenty of great games, but with the amount of excellent updates that have arrived for Sifu, now’s the perfect time to give it a shot. And hey, Sloclap? If you port it to the Xbox, I might just play through it again.
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