The movies Oldboy and The Raid come to mind as the most obvious recent(ish) reference points for Sifu, a kung-fu brawler announced during a PlayStation stream today. The grimy hallway in the trailer above looks pretty familiar, for example. What’s really exciting, though, is not just that Sifu is reminiscent of some cool movies, but that the developer behind it is well-equipped to nail the material.
Sifu is the next game from Sloclap, the studio behind under-loved fighting game Absolver. There are a lot of ways Absolver is good, but to me, its best feature is the ability to customize your fighting style, mixing and matching moves to design your own complex rhythm. As a fan of 1978 Jackie Chan movie Drunken Master, I spent a long time developing my skills with Absolver’s clumsy-looking Stagger-style moves, and had just as much fun testing my abilities against other players as I did experimenting with movesets against AI fighters.
Unlike Absolver, Sifu doesn’t appear to have a PvP element—it might, but Sloclap hasn’t mentioned one, so I’ll have to ask. The focus of the trailer is all on the singleplayer story, which seems to have a roguelite structure of sorts. The premise is that we’ve spent our lives training to take revenge on the assassins who killed our family, but have to do it in a single day.
“To overcome the odds that are heavily stacked against you, you’ll need to rely on your mastery of Kung Fu, and on a magical pendant that will revive you after death,” reads a description of the game sent to PC Gamer. “The cost of magic is dear, however, and you will age significantly every time you come back to life: time is the price you will pay for your revenge.”
I’m not sure how much the customization I like so much in Absolver will play a role in Sifu, if it plays any role at all (I plan to ask about that, too!), but it is clear that your character will pick up some new things along the way.
“Learn from your errors, unlock unique skills, and find the strength within yourself to master the devastating techniques of Pak-Mei Kung-Fu,” reads the game summary. “Your family’s legacy depends on it.”
Even if Absolver’s moveset system doesn’t show up again here, its push-and-pull combat is a lot of fun in general, so I’ve got high hopes for Sifu. (The name, by the way, refers to a teacher or master.)
The PlayStation versions were obviously emphasized in the announcement on Sony’s stream today, but Sifu is also releasing on PC on the Epic Games Store. There’s no specific release date yet, but it’s scheduled to come out sometime this fall.