SIFU Review: A lesson in self control
SIFU is a third person revenge-fuelled martial arts fighter where to call this game a challenge would be an understatement.
You play as either a male or female protagonist who worked through 5 areas in the game taking down the 5 bosses who were responsible for the death of your father.
The areas themselves whilst not being overly large in size are deep in combat with a variety of armed, unarmed and gigantic enemies you need to take down as you progress through to the boss of that area where you face off against them in a 2-stage fight.
SIFU’s combat is pristine, it’s sharp and requires precise timing to take down even basic enemies, never mind the tougher ones but that’s where the beauty of SIFU lies.
Learning through failure, learning by dying which is combined with a resurrection mechanic I haven’t come across before.
Every time you die, which you will do a lot especially at the start, you can then come back straight away allowing you to continue the fight, however, this does come with a penalty as you age upon death.
Every time you die you age by 1 year for every consistent death you have so if you’ve died 4 times at age 23 you will then be 27 when you get back up. If you die 8 times consistently then fall at the age of 30 you will be 38 when you resurrect and so on.
Every time you age a few years you then hit harder but as a consequence you have lower health up until the age of 70 where any death after this point is a game over where you lose all XP and any skills that haven’t permanently unlocked.
This causes you to learn the game, learn every enemies’ location, attack pattern, strategy, absolutely everything as whatever age you complete an area at is the age you go into the next area as meaning it’s a very wise decision to master a level going in to the next one at as younger an age as possible to stand a better chance of completing it.
Weapons also play a very important role and give you an incredible advantage especially against a group of enemies who could easily otherwise very quickly overwhelm you.
The not so good
The combat does have a steep, hard learning curve which is more like a spike than a curve. you go through the tutorial level as a fully maxed out badass fighter who can’t die which makes you think, oh this might not be that be bad, I can do this game.
Then, however, you go into the first area as your main character and get your ass kicked consistently by near enough everyone you come across.
SIFU does have a small training area which is found by interacting with the training dummy in the hub area but for me, it served more confusion than clarity where-as going out into the areas in the game you learn the hard way.
But for me, the game is to hard at the start, it feels more like other games optional “prove yourself” areas than an opening level, you are mobbed in nearly every section which makes things feel overwhelming and with no accessibility options, which I grant you could be exploited there is no clear way anyone with disabilities could enjoy this game.
I do understand why the developer’s have made the game this way, they want you to learn and master every element or they’ll punish you if you don’t or more to the point; can’t.
There are no online elements to SIFU.
The game sounds really good, especially on PS5 with the controller putting sounds through of the rain, flies and impacts with takedowns taking the priority over everything else.
There is a really upbeat hard dance sound track throughout which helps get your blood pumping for the game.
The characters are voiced well given the type of game this is, it’s not going to win any awards for voice actor of the year or anything like that but it does a good job with what it does do.
The Trophies found in SIFU are a serious challenge with trophies such as beating the game whilst staying under the age of 25, not dying once to a boss in a fight and performing each type of takedown at least once.
This game will have an ultra rare platinum for years to come.
Here are a series of photos to show you how the game looks:
I find SIFU an incredibly well put together game, the combat is crisp, sharp and with the soundtrack the game offers, it’s a very well put together package.
The most disappointing part whilst also being the best part of the game is the unrelenting difficulty, if you’re an angry person who doesn’t like to fail then you’ll struggle here.
If you’re calm, collected and are determined to master a game then you’ll have a lot of game here to master.
I am conflicted with SIFU as on one hand we make game guides here and I am more of the hot-headed gamer and I’m not a fan of seemingly unfair fights and even low level mobs can increase you by 10-15 years with little effort on their part.
However, I am very impressed with the mastery the game requires and the skill needed to get through a level which once completed gives you a rush that is missing from so many games in this day and age.
It harkens back to the old Dark Souls feeling of being punished by a boss over and over again then once you finally get the win you feel elated.
With all that considered, I award SIFU an 8 / 10 and highly recommend the game as long as you have the patience to learn the game and everything it has to offer.
If, however, you’re short tempered and don’t like the feeling of being battered left right and centre, maybe give this one a miss to save an potential controller breakages.
Final Score: 8