Welcome fellow students to the world of Sifu, the latest martial arts action brawler from Sloclap. Chances are you have some idea of what you are in for with this game, but it doesn't exactly explain some of its fundamental design principles all that well. Thankfully, we here at TechRaptor are here to help you understand the basics of Sifu so you can get right into punching and kicking like a martial arts movie legend with our Sifu Beginner's Guide and Tips.
Points and Progression | Sifu Tips
At its core, Sifu, is an action brawler. You'll go from room to room fighting enemies in hand-to-hand combat using a mix light and heavy attacks. As you defeat enemies, you'll get a score multiplier that will tick up as you beat enemies without getting hit.
And you will want to rack up these points. As you progress through each level, you will find shrines where you can spend these points. There are three different groups of buffs and benefits you can take in Sifu.
- The first group are ones you can take for free as long as you are below their minimum age
- The second group runs off how high your score is
- The third group takes from your total experience points earned from defeating enemies.
In addition, visiting a shrine lets you access your Skill Tree with a push of a button. Here, you can spend your XP on new attacks and skills. Basically, if you keep doing well, your score gives you more options for shrine buffs, but just beating tough enemies will let you earn more moves in the skill tree.
The Sifu skill tree is where things can get a bit confusing. Simply put, by spending the required amount of experience points, you can unlock a new attack or ability to use.
This can be as simple as a new special attack complete with a unique input. Or it can be as complex as being able to kick loose objects in the environment at your opponents to trip them up. This sounds like some straightforward, RPG-style progression. But there's one big difference: each and every skill has two different unlock tiers. The first is just unlocking the skill, which you get by spending points. The second tier is permanently unlocking the skill, which is done by paying that exact same cost five more times.
At first, this seems like a waste of points. You already earned the skill and can use it, so why spend so much experience to “unlock” it again? Well, this is tied into another one of Sifu's big unique mechanics.
Death and Aging | Sifu Tips
The first thing that might surprise new players is Sifu's difficulty. Any random enemy can down you with a few well-placed punches and kicks. But this difficulty curve is a part of the game itself. Every time you die, a death counter goes up on the screen and you are taken to the skill tree menu where you can spend your XP. Once that is done, you can hold down a button to rise again. Once this happens, your health is restored to maximum, and your current death counter total is added to your character's age. If you keep dying, the counter increases and you age faster. If you die once your character reaches their 70s, the game ends and you must restart the level you are on completely from the start, resetting all of your earned skills and shrine buffs.
If this sounds like a cruel and unfair punishment system, Sifu does some clever things to make death and aging feel more like a give and take than a ruler across the knuckles.
First and foremost, if you actually invested the points into certain skills to permanently unlock them, those are yours forever. This means you can go through an entire level, fight as far as you can, permanently unlock a skill you really like, age yourself into oblivion, and try again with that skill available from the start. Granted, you will still need to earn every bit of XP through difficult trial and error fights, but it is a silver lining to keep in mind.
Second of all, every single time you hit a certain decade of age (20s, 30s, 40s, etc.) your overall attack power goes up, but your maximum health pool goes down. This means that your mistakes will be punished more, but you are rewarded further for breaking through enemy defenses.
Age Management and Death Counter | Sifu Tips
Believe it or not, Sifu does include ways for you to manage your age and your death counter. The quickest and easiest method of lowering your death counter are defeating minibosses. These are usually notable characters you will encounter as you play through the game. A big guy in a suit. A woman with a quarterstaff. They'll usually block your way to an important location, or have a key on their person.
Alternatively, minibosses can actually spontaneously pop up within regular enemies. This is marked by them blocking and shutting down one of your finishing attacks, getting a second health bar, and exuding a glowing yellow aura. No matter how they pop up, simply defeat one of these minibosses and your death counter will go down by one.
A second, more extreme version of death counter management is something you can get from shrines. By paying a large amount of experience points at the highest cost, 1000 points, you can reset your death counter to 0. Generally, it's a good idea to take this if you're getting into your 50s or so and have a death counter north of 5. It helps prevent snowballing failures and lets you catch your breath.
Finally, Sifu does have a roundabout way of lowering your age. Once you beat a story chapter, the age you beat it becomes your “age floor.” Going into future levels, if you age yourself into a game over, restarting the chapter will default you to this age. You keep all of your shrine buffs and permanent skills this way.
However, at any time, you can replay any of the earlier chapters with all of your permanent skills unlocked and try to lower your age floor. You barely managed to beat the first level's boss, skirting into your 60s? Go back and try again. See if you can lower that to your 40s. In addition, this will let you re-select certain shrine buffs to match your preferred fighting style. Either way, once you finish an earlier chapter, your age floor will adjust going into the next chapter.
This is coupled with another one of Sifu's biggest progression walls: shortcuts and secret paths. As you play through each level, you will come across locked doors or hidden passageways. As you fight through certain enemies or ambushes, you can obtain keys and passwords in order to unlock these hidden routes. Furthermore, these keys and passwords are permanent. You just need to pick them up once and you're good to go. This can turn certain levels from prolonged ambushes and gauntlets to an express route straight to the boss fight.
Even with all of this information in mind, Sifu is still a dense action experience with a ton of nuances. In fact, we will have more dedicated guides when it comes to advanced defense, boss walkthroughs, and even some of the more obscure secret paths hidden in each level. But we do have a few quick and easy tips for those beginning their martial arts journey.
- Do Not Get Surrounded. When it comes to fighting multiple enemies, Sifu makes it clear that enemies won't just wait their turn to hit you. You will get hit from multiple angles and get overwhelmed. To this end, keep funneling enemy waves and control their access to you. Back away. Bottleneck them through a door. Jump over some low cover. Do whatever you can to keep them coming at you in a straight line rather than a circle.
- Memorize Weapon and Item Placement. Enemy and item placements are fixed in Sifu. That club, brick, or knife you find on the ground will always be there. Also, certain weapon attacks can stun and make quick work of certain enemy mobs. Use this to your advantage.
- Don't Rush Your Fights. Devil May Cry this is not. Sifu rewards you more for finding openings in an enemy stance and exploiting it, and punishes you for button mashing.
With this guide, we hope you have a better idea of the basics of Sifu. If you want more involved or advanced guides, see below!