Sifu — Combat Choreography at its Finest

Jeffrey McGee
4 min readAug 1, 2022

They said it’s a good game… and they were right!

Nowadays, I can’t be bothered with d with video games too much. Now, I’ve been playing video games for 30 years, give or take, but after all those years that I’ve spent pressing buttons and burning my eyes in front of a TV screen, I can finally say, “video games aren’t as fun as they used to be”. That statement primarily reflects on me and not the quality of the game. But every once in a while, a great game comes by and catches my interest when I least expect it. One I recently got to play was surprisingly great.

It’s called Sifu, and it tells the tale a man seeking vengeance against a group of people for the death of his father. Sounds like a cliché premise, which might be true, but the ingenuity of Sifu doesn’t in its story, but in its gameplay, and for once a game that actually prioritizes the main attribute that makes up video games, and that is, you guessed it, gameplay.

Sifu is a game that takes place in China and is themed around martial arts, kung fu in particular, and it would seem like a good opportunity to complain as to why the game isn’t in Mandarin, but the game is so surprisingly splendid that whether the game is in English or some other language is hardly a problem. What I like most about the game is its choreography, which truly captures the feeling of all those wuxia movies, and one particular feature is something that I haven’t seen yet, and that is the character ages whenever he dies, which means that you can start a level at the age of 20, but finish it at the age of 70 because dying is, as it seems, really easy in this game (in contrast, not dying is a heck of a lot harder). But seriously, if you haven’t played this game yet, do it now because it’s probably one of the best this year, and it’s not even Christmas.

The feeling of a Chinese atmosphere in this game is really strong

Not bragging or anything but as I know myself, I’m hard to impress and I’m awfully cynical, but Sifu actually managed to exceed my expectation in its fun factor, and I want to describe that story. Of course, I’ll try to avoid spoilers as much as possible.

So, you start the game with no context and play as a man clad in black. Somewhere in contemporary China, he infiltrates a dojo (or whatever the Chinese equivalent of a dojo is) with his buddies and attacks the residents. The motion was so fluid, and the camera always found the right angle for when you performed a cool grappling move, and that’s just the feeling. Every element that makes up the mechanics of the gameplay has an importance that should always be considered.

Like other games that used a clever fighting system, the combat of bat of Sifu requires the player to pay attention to every facet of the brawl. What will the opponent do? When should I parry? What is the best move to use in this situation? These are some of the many questions I asked myself whenever I fought a group of thugs stupid enough to get into a fight, and every move I performed had to be in place with the rhythm if I wanted to succeed without ageing too much. Every move felt essential, and nothing was out of place. The combat system in this game is so satisfying with its rhythmic choreography that it makes it enjoyable to mash buttons on your keyboard (something that many fail to do). But despite these commendable features, the game is not without its issues. The main issue I have with the game, seeing as how the game is focused around challenging fights you are often required to repeat a level several times if you want to get to the end before becoming a septuagenarian. It’s not one of those ‘chill-back-and-relax’ experiences like an open-world game that only requires the player to be on autopilot as they venture into a seemingly never-ending landscape. The repetition can be a bit bothersome and the learning curve is high but other than that, I am really enjoying this game and I actually want to get to the end of it because it’s satisfying. Although considering the schedule, I don’t know if I’ll have the time for it. I mean, who has time for anything nowadays…

Do you like wuxia movies?

I’m clearly impressed by the game, which is weird because I’m usually never impressed (sounds like an oxymoron but whatever). But what about you… Were you NOT impressed, or were you? In any case, if you don’t want to comment about the game, then you probably only came here for the wuxia movies. I, in particular, don’t watch them, but if you have a really good one to recommend, then be my guest. In any case, be sure to give your impressions of the game.

In Conclusion…

Sifu is… well I already made that obvious. Anyway, be sure to play it because if not it’ll be a real miss, and yes, not playing this would be a real miss…

The game’s gameplay mechanics are clever in how every component of it meshes together to form a new type of rhythmic combat that I hope to see more of in the future.

Although I have to say that the best part in the game is that reference to that legendary scene from Oldboy. When I saw THAT, I was immediately sold, and now you probably know why I was impressed, because that was among the best fight scenes ever, and now I actually got to play it… almost.