For someone who has changed their Twitter bio to say “Sifu stan account”, there’s been a considerable lack of Sifu discussion on my behalf at Cultured Vultures, so let’s change that. After being a huge fan of Sloclap’s martial arts infused, sort of Soulslike (Souls-kinda is my genre term pitch) Absolver, Sifu promises an action movie inspired epic, with plenty to enjoy for players who love martial arts in both gaming and cinema.
Considering that Sifu is coming to PC, PS4 and, crucially, PS5, there’s an opportunity here for Sloclap to utilise the features of the console’s DualSense controller, one of the biggest features that the console offers. More specifically, it could finally be the game that sells me on the controller’s benefits, or at least, it has the potential to. Considering nothing’s been announced yet, this is just speculation, but there’s some possibilities worth exploring.
Truth be told, I was skeptical of the controller before picking up a PS5, thinking that the rumble features and adaptive triggers would become more like a gimmick than a real feature, and in the early lifespan of the console, it certainly feels like that. My main experience with the features came in Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, and the resistance on the triggers, meaning shots required more physical effort to use, immediately made the game feel like a chore.
I’ll grant you, Astro’s Playroom was absolutely incredible, and a great showcase for the DualSense’s capabilities. It’s not just a game, it’s an experience created by literal fun wizards designed to raise a smile on anyone’s face. Most impressive was how the speaker mixed with the rumble feedback, which helped sell the idea of walking on different surfaces.
However, it’s hard not to be cynical about Astro’s Playroom, because it’s specifically designed to be a showcase for the DualSense controller. For a lot of games on the PS5, the DualSense has been somewhat of an afterthought. “Oh, we’ve made a full game and didn’t make use of the controller, let’s just throw some rumble in there and call it a day.”
Sifu could be a chance to change that. Sloclap hasn’t announced what the controls would be for the game, whether it’ll use simple button presses or the triggers in order to launch attacks or defend from damage, but there’s a number of ways that the developers could use the benefits of the controller to Sifu’s advantage.
One of the best aspects of the DualSense is the ability to feel multiple kinds of rumble across the controller, which could be used to Sifu’s advantage. Being able to use the controller to feel where threats are coming from relative to where you are, along with maybe an audio clue from the controller’s built-in speaker letting you know to actually counter an attack.
If defensive abilities are tied to the controller’s triggers, it’s possible that they could be used to distinguish between blocking and countering. Half trigger pulls could be used for countering while you could block by pressing and holding the trigger down fully. If there’s a stamina system in play tied to blocking, maybe holding down block or performing attacks could be harder due to the adaptive nature of the controller.
Sure, using the triggers in this way for Sifu might sound like it flies in the face of why I didn’t like them in Ratchet & Clank, but at the very least, tying trigger resistance to an in-game stamina system would be a logical reason for attacks to be harder to physically perform. It’s not a feature that’s added for the sake of it, it actually ties organically to the action on screen. Besides, maybe it’d just be cool to see a controller attempt to showcase fatigue instead of the usual “I shoot gun, controller go brrrrr”.
Again, this is just speculation on my behalf, but there’s potential for Sifu to do some interesting things with the power of the DualSense. Whether or not Sloclap realises the potential of the controller remains to be seen, but I’m cautiously optimistic that they’ll pull it off. They might make a believer out of me yet.
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