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SIFU on Switch, the imperfect "revenge-movie" - TEST

SIFU on Switch, the imperfect “revenge-movie” – TEST

I love martial arts movies. Really, it’s my little guilty pleasure. I have memories of me younger, putting myself on an IV Karate Kid, Ong Bakthe great classics of Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee for hours and hours. And I have to admit that I’m quite pleased to see the resurgence in popularity of this genre through films like Shang Chi or the excellent Everything Everywhere All At Once (Michelle Yeohtrue queen of the genre). In terms of video games, if we have a lot of naughty games, I would say that it lacks a little beat-them-all with a real atmosphere and identity in the vein of the traditional martial art film, where the character is not there to seek revenge. Finally, I say that it misses, I should rather say ” it was missing ”, because this year, a real love letter to this genre has arrived, her this letter is called Sifu.

We do like the movies…

The first minutes of Sifu are clear: we are in pure revenge movie “. For the tutorial, we embody the big villain of this epic, who kills Sifuthe father of the main character (don’t worry, this is not a spoiler). So as not to make a witness, our villain whose name is Yanglooking very ” dark sasuke true to the clichés of the genre, orders one of his henchmen to kill his son (the main character). Except that our character had in his possession a small medallion, which allows him to resuscitate each time he is killed with the only constraint of taking a little bit of age. I’m talking to you about this medallionas it is essential in Sifu’s gameplay loop, but we will come back to this later. The child will therefore spend his time training until he is 20 years old, when he will begin his vengeful quest: to kill Yang and his acolytes.

As much to say it directly, you won’t play Sifu for the depth of his storytelling. Because it’s really not very deep: we don’t question the use of violence, nor the absurdity of revenge, we’re there to put in some hell of a mess. And it’s not so bad, because Sifu does not overload itself with a narrative, excessive dialogues or cutscenes to make its gameplay speak as much as possible : it is his promise and he keeps it well.

One thing is certain, when you launch the game: you are immediately caught up in its atmosphere. The game takes place in China and the French studio Sloclap was really inspired. Well, I’m not an expert on Chinese architecture or Asian culture, but going through the different settings and levels of the game, I felt strangely at home. Because these various settings, I had already seen them in film. Between the hallway scene ultra referenced to old boyor the nightclub scene that immediately reminded me of Keanu Reeves in John WickI discovered things while having a curious but pleasant feeling of deja vu.

But more than that, Sloclap has mastered the change of atmosphere with a master hand. It’s rarely easy to alternate between realism and fantasy, and Sifu does it well. At each level its dose of folklore which is not expected and which always surprises. But these changes have a price, and it is that of understanding. During the entire game, I did not understand if these fantastic phases were an afterimage from the mind of my character or simply from the reality of the game and its universe, and knowing that the game is deliberately stingy with information , it is a question that will not find an answer.

…and we add gameplay of course.

Let’s stop twiddling our thumbs and talk a little bit about it, because that’s the heart of the matter when we talk about Sifu. After hours of play, as much on PS5 that on nintendo-switchI must admit that I don’t know if I like the combat system of Sifu or not. Already, we have to tell you: Sifu is difficult. Really. Even in easy mode, you’ll end up not counting the number of times you’ve died. The game is not kind to you and the enemies will not wait for you and attack you relentlessly (we would almost end up regretting Assassin’s Creed and the enemies who line up to be slain). So even with concrete reflexes, it’s almost mission impossible not to take a few tatane shots.

The battle system is precise, very demanding and above all, he is not stingy in possibilities. Many combos, skills that you will have to unlock will diversify the gameplay quite quickly and drastically increase the field of possibilities when you are in combat. Not to mention the different weapons that you will find over time and which will also change the way you approach the environments. But this combat system has a price: the extreme precision and the requirement will not please everyone, or give freedom to those who cannot give much time to Sifu to express themselves as well as possible.

Because between the combos that require your joystick to collaborate at the same time as the keys, it’s good, but when there are a lot of them, it’s difficult to get it into our head so that it becomes reflexes engines. Throughout my adventure, I only forgot the various possible combos, and I returned very regularly to the menu to find how to make them. I could think that it is me the concern, and that I unfortunately do not have the capacity to retain all that, but a few weeks later Sifu, I did God Of Car Ragnarokwhich he no longer has is not stingy in combo and I encountered almost no problem. One can also note the Joy-Con which does not help, favor the Joystick Pro!

Even his dodge system is difficult to understand. And after several runs, on two different consoles, I still couldn’t figure out how it worked. Sometimes I manage without worries, sometimes not and I still don’t know why. So I’ll stop there, I don’t want you to believe that Sifu is unplayable, because it remains pleasant to handle. But he would have greatly benefited from being more welcoming in his way of chaining certain attacks and combos, because the animations on their side never falter and are always a feast for the eyes.

I talked about it in the first part, let me come back in more detail on this medallion story. Sifu looks a bit like a roguelite, you can die, you will die and accumulate knowledge and sometimes experience to continue to progress in the game. But death is not immediate. Each time your life gauge drops to zero, you return to exactly where you fell. But older. You gain 1 year on the first death, then after your age increases proportionally to your number of deaths. If you blow out your eightieth candles during a fight, it’s over for you, you will have to start the level again. With each decade that passes, our character’s damage increases while his health decreases. This system, as original as it is, never seems to find balance. In normal mode, it is very difficult to go to the end of the game, while in easy mode, if you don’t roll on the game, you quickly go to the end without knowing the Game Over once.

What bothered me was this obligation to constantly have to restart the levels, to finish it as young as possible so as not to struggle for the next level, otherwise you will have to start the previous level again to try again and again to finish it even younger. The problem with this is that the game requires a lot of moral and physical investment to complete it in normal mode, while easy mode is a real walk in the park. Unfortunately, the balance has not been found, and that’s a shame, because in both situations, I didn’t have the impression of really benefiting from Sifu. So of course, the levels offer some shortcuts to finish them more quickly if we find the right keys or objects in our environment, but even with these tools, the difficulty remains relatively high.

Technical: KO or OK?

We have to admit, technically, Sifu is an excellent achievement. For having made the PS5 version when it was released, Nintendo’s version of the small hybrid has absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. The environments are worthily represented and pay homage to the beautiful artistic direction of the title. No clippingofaliasing ugly or other small problem that we generally encounter on portages. But where the game must be absolutely perfect is its framerate. In such a nervous game, which requires optimal concentration and Titanic reflexes, if slowdowns are frequent, the experience may suffer. Big sigh of relief, Sifu is fluid ! I only noticed one place where the game was coughing very severely, it’s in the garden of our house, but no action takes place there so it’s not a problem at all. Not 60 fps, but a solid 30 throughout the adventure, regardless of the environments or the number of your opponents on the screen. It is all the same to underline, such a qualitative porting on all aspects, whether visual or technical. Still traumatized by porting Cloudpunk (which is so good though)every successful Switch port has been a real endorphin shot on my side ever since.

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What is your feeling about this?

Sifu, the imperfect “revenge-movie”.

  • Good, but could be much better – 63%


Good, but could be much better

Hard to say if I loved it Sifu or if he frustrated me. Between a combat system so enjoyable, but so complex and difficult to learn. Seductive decors and references that never fall into excess. An interesting design idea like the medallion, but poorly mastered. Sifu does a lot of good things, but seems to miss some, and that’s what made my experience painful in the long run. I don’t have a bad memory of it, on the contrary, but if the pleasure of living from the inside a ” revenge movie old-school is there, I feel like the game has taken away from my enjoyment of it 100% at times.

The +

  • Very nice environments
  • A varied combat system…
  • It’s fluid!
  • Excellent animations
  • The age system…

The –

  • … But too complex to handle
  • … which unfortunately does not find a balance in its difficulty

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