Last year’s Sifu could have very well been game of the year for a lot of people if it hadn’t been for that pesky Elden Ring getting in the way. While Sloclap’s martial arts epic has been available on the Epic Games Store since launch, Sifu has finally been released on Steam, meaning Steam Deck owners can finally enjoy the experience for themselves without going through the convoluted process of getting EGS titles to work on the Deck. Fortunately, Sifu’s hard-hitting action happens to feel right at home on Valve’s nifty piece of kit.
This probably doesn’t come as a surprise to a lot of people, considering that Sloclap has already ported their excellent game to the Nintendo Switch, but anyone who’s played that version of Sifu will know that performance-wise, it didn’t quite hit the same standards as the PS5 or PC versions. As you’d imagine from the Steam Deck’s higher capabilities, Sifu is able to run at a mostly consistent 60fps on high graphics settings (if you’ve got the 512GB version anyway). There are a couple of frame drops and lapses in performance, particularly when enemies spawn in which can be a bit of a bother, but those will likely be ironed out over time with patches.
As for battery life, Sifu isn’t quite as graphically intensive as some of the AAA games that have been verified for the handheld platform, so you don’t need to worry about the game hoovering up all of your battery life in a matter of two hours. In fact, you could easily get a few hours of straight gameplay in Sifu if you wanted, but the real appeal of Sifu on the Steam Deck is how much of a pick up and play game it becomes.
With only five levels, each of which could be completed in about half an hour at most, Sifu feels like the perfect mix of meaty mechanics you can sink your teeth into, served in bitesize portions you can keep coming back to over and over again. Grinding through the levels to get the best run could easily fit into someone’s regular commute (or overly long toilet breaks), which is just as well if you’re stuck on one of the particularly hard bosses or levels. Sometimes you need all the practice you can get, and the Steam Deck makes that effortless.
It’s also worth noting that the controls on Steam Deck feel fantastic, with the bumpers in particular feeling sturdy enough to take the punishment of some panicked parrying attempts. Crucially, you can also use the Deck’s backside buttons in order to make controlling your martial arts master even easier. Because you can combine multiple commands to one button, you could easily use those back buttons for takedowns and throws, making you more deadly as a result.
The pick up and play style of Sifu is only enhanced with the new Arenas expansion that launched alongside the Steam and Xbox release. A free update for all platforms, Arenas is exactly what it sounds like, with dozens of mini challenges to complete across five different game types. Whether it’s a basic survival mission, a manhunt, where you’re taking out specific enemies, or capture, which requires holding specific points, there’s a healthy amount of content here you can come back to at any time.
The fights themselves in Arenas mode are probably some of the hardest challenges in the game, particularly if you’re looking to gain the highest scores, but it’s also where Sloclap has been able to have the most fun with Sifu. The whole mode is crammed with movie and game references, while the challenges themselves have some fun and interesting modifiers that’ll make you want to keep coming back for more.
On top of the Arenas expansion, Sifu on Steam Deck also benefits from the litany of updates the regular game has received over the past year, including new costumes, goals (challenges for the main game unlocked after receiving an ending), two new difficulty levels and a whole replay editor. Sifu was already a cracking game when it launched originally, but the amount of free content that Sloclap has stuffed in there over the last 12 months have made an already brilliant package even better.
If you already own Sifu on another platform, the novelty of being able to play it on Steam Deck might not be enough to tempt you into making another purchase, but for those who are yet to sample the butt-kicking delights of Sloclap’s kung fu epic, the Steam Deck version is one of the best places to start. Now excuse me, it’s time for my overly long toilet break.
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