If you have read our Beginner's Guide for Sifu, you might have noticed there was a core mechanic to the game that went unmentioned. The game has a major focus on blocking, parrying, and dodging, all with their own unique and hidden mechanics that are key to truly mastering this martial arts brawler. This is because this system is so complex it needs a guide all on its own. So if you're having trouble understanding or wanting to master Sifu's more advanced elements, read on for our Sifu Advanced Combat Guide.
Sifu Advanced Combat Guide – Structure Basics
First, a brief summary of what was explained in Sifu's tutorial. As attacks are blocked, it puts pressure on something called the Structure gauge. Every single character in the game has one of these gauges. It represents their overall balance and stance. If too many attacks are blocked, the gauge will flash red, a breaking glass sound effect will sound, and the defender will be stunned for a few seconds. The big difference however is that while your Structure can be overwhelmed from multiple hits while blocking, your enemies can block almost indefinitely. However, if you dodge or hit the block button at the right time you will parry the attack and can do some follow-up strikes, which greatly reduce their Structure gauge. Once their Structure breaks this way, you can instantly take them out with a finisher attack.
In the broadest strokes, it is a system those who have played Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice or Jedi: Fallen Order should be familiar with.
But what makes Sifu stand out from its peers is that while there is no dedicated stamina gauge to prevent you from just spamming attacks, it more actively encourages dodging and blocking in equal measure. This is because there is a power-up in the Score section of shrine menus that helps restore your Structure every time you successfully dodge or parry an attack. And considering how on the whole, the timing windows seems to be more forgiving for dodging than parrying, you'll be doing a lot of the former.
Sifu Advanced Combat Guide – Dodging and Parrying
Once again, while Sifu does tutorialize dodging, there are a few things the game doesn't tell you. If you hold down the block button then push up or down on the left stick, your character dodge in the corresponding direction. If you push down, you'll duck. If you push up, you'll either lift your leg or hop to avoid a sweep or a trip. Furthermore, if you dodge perfectly, time will slow down and you can do follow-up attacks.
But there are two big things to keep in mind as you dodge. First and foremost, you will be doing a lot of ducking in Sifu. You will be tapping down more often than up in the game's early chapters. Boss battles and certain enemy types are exceptions.
Second of all, the control stick inputs do not change. Regardless of where your character is, the orientation of the camera, or where the attack is coming from, hitting down will always duck and hitting up will always avoid a sweep. In fact, it is entirely possible to have two enemies hit each other with a well-timed dodge in more advanced play. Bottom line, don't overthink your input when you're dodging, just focus on where the attack is coming from.
Alternatively, if you are really good with your reflexes, parrying attacks can lead to greater yields. As mentioned before, pressing block just as an attack comes to hit will you stun the opponent. Hit an attack button shortly after and you'll do some strong follow-up blows. What makes these attacks a bit different from dodge attacks is that there are skills you can unlock to gain extra parry attacks. These help greatly reward this more risky play since, if you get the timing wrong, you'll be pummeled.
Sifu Advanced Combat Guide – Super Armor, Interruptions, and Weapons
With the information listed above, you will get through a fair amount of Sifu just fine, but as things progress, exceptions to this rule will start popping up. First and foremost is that more advanced enemies, minibosses and bosses in particular, will start exhibiting super armor. Dodging or parrying just one attack will not do. If you try to interrupt the chain early with an attack, you'll get punished by the rest of the attack string. The trick is to wait until you see the slowed time while dodging or physically see your opponent knocked back by your parry before you attack.
However, it must be noted that if you try to parry every single attack in an enemy string, it will still result in their overall Structure getting ticked down. This will be vital with late-game boss battles.
On the other side of the coin, there are powerful attacks enemies can do that I'll just call interruptions. These attacks are telegraphed by the arm or leg doing it glowing with orange or red aura. If you try to block this attack, it will greatly effect your Structure. Worse still, if it breaks your Structure, it will knock you back and leave you open to punishment. In fact, several advanced enemies will do their own version of a finisher attack on you if they break your Structure like this. However, perfectly parrying these attacks usually stun and stagger the attacker, so take your risks accordingly.
But the third and biggest hurdle to dodging and parrying in Sifu is the various weapons that the game introduces. These start off simple with glass bottles that can be picked up and thrown. If you get hit with one, you are stunned for a couple of seconds, unable to block or dodge. They're one-time use, and enemies usually throw them, so keep an eye out.
Then there are quarterstaves. These are surprisingly tricky to deal with due to their extended reach. A fair amount of follow-up attacks might actually whiff your target. Dodging is even trickier due to this, no thanks to most stave users mixing in trips and sweeps into their repertoire. The best advice I can give here is block and parry accordingly.
On the opposite end, there are enemies with bladed weapons. For obvious reasons, trying to block any of these attacks will just get you hurt. Learn their attack patterns and dodge. You can still attempt to parry these slashes, just know punishment for mistakes will be sharper.
Sifu Advanced Combat Guide – Helpful Tips and Useful Skills
Since so much of Sifu revolves around managing your Structure while breaking down your opponent's, there are a few quick and easy tips to give as well as essential skills to pick up as soon as you can.
Use Your Throw. Whenever you fully stun an opponent, you can press both square and X to grab and throw them somewhere else, guiding their direction with the left stick. Use this to your advantage. If you throw them into anything: a wall, a bench, a worktable, etc., they will lose further Structure and potentially get opened up for more punishment. If you throw them at other opponents, you can interrupt their upcoming attacks and give you some time to breathe if you're fighting a crowd. But arguably the biggest benefit of all to using your throw is you can use it to throw enemies over railings, instantly beating them. If you think you're using the throw enough, you're not.
Be Mindful of Stairs. This is a slight extension of constantly using your throw. Basically, if you or anyone loses their balance from a powerful strike while on a flight of stairs, they will tumble down those stairs, losing health in the process. What this means for you is to not fight up a flight of stairs. A single mistimed parry can mean a lot more than just some lost Structure. Alternatively, to cite a certain memetic Jedi, take advantage of the high ground. If you get the chance, stun and push an enemy down a flight.
As for useful skills, pick these up and permanently unlock them as soon as you can. It will help give you more control of the arena as well as give you more defense options for your dodge and parries.
- Weapon Catch. You will catch thrown weapons out of thin air. Great for stopping bottles or deadly knives.
- Pushback Cancel. Hit the block button as you stumble backwards to help regain your posture. This can save your bacon in tight situations.
- Ground Counter. Hit the block button right as an attack comes at you while prone to stop it. This will help give you one last shot at defense after being tripped up.
- Environmental Mastery. Hit the right shoulder button near a weapon or environmental object and you will immediately toss it at a nearby opponent. This is great if you want to interrupt an enemy attack from a distance or need one last strike to close the distance.
- Invert Throw. Dodge into your opponent after hitting them and you'll do a quick, position-switching throw. This is great if you need a human shield from ongoing attacks or want to get out of a corner.
With these tips in mind as well as these recommended skills, you should have a better grasp on the more technical elements of Sifu's combat systems. Now go out there and mop the floor with them.