Refined at all levels, SIFU takes the best of the soulslike, the Roguelike and the SLOCLAP itself to offer an authentic prodigy.
Edward Said understood by orientalism the exaggeration that was made of the cultural traits of Asia and the supposed inferiority that they reflected with respect to Western culture. This has led to think that orientalism is always a prejudice that points out aspects to make them ridiculous and lower, but that is not like that. Sometimes, orientalism points aspects as positive only to convert them into aliens, to demarcate the otradity of the East, the fact that these people are completely different from us. The clearest example of this are martial arts.
- Developer: SLOCLAP
- Editor: SLOCLAP
- Platforms: PS5, PS4, PC
- Proven version: PS5
- Availability: 08/02/2022
From the West the martial arts look like something mystical. With all a philosophy of non-aggression, harmony and community thinking about individuality, they have always been investigated from a difficult esoteric character to apprehend – something that, in China itself, does not even have that consideration. In this way, it has been intended to communicate a specific idea of the countries with which we associate martial arts: they are spiritual and also have a servile attitude and little given to violence, even when we talk about making use of it. This can sound like a compliment, but it ends up sounding like confirmation of the inferiority of an entire continent, anchored in children’s ideas about mystical, with respect to Western rationality, which recognizes the authentic scientific truth.
Sifu, despite eating entirely in China, with Asian characters, and turning around martial arts, has an entirely western development team, except for the musician in charge of the soundtrack. Falling on orientalism would have been as simple as being carried away by the mystique of martial arts and ending caricaturizing, unintentionally and even from love, a whole culture as if it were a repolluted child who is endorsed before friends, boasting us With love of the achievements of that little one who we admire so much. And yet, SLOCLAP has shown not only an extreme sensitivity when approaching a culture that is not his, but has also signed an exceptional game where all his elements shake hands to exalt the true particularities of the kung-fu, which are far from having anything to do with mystical and yes with hard work and the meticulous observation of reality.
As a result of that, the videogame has had many problems to represent martial arts. With exceptions, like the outstanding Sleeping Dogs, the body-to-body combat in the videogame is almost always at a crossroads: if it is satisfying it requires a lot of skill, as it usually happens in the fighting games, and if it does not require a lot of skill just yes Satisfactory, as often happens in action games. For our rejoicing, SIFU has understood the key behind the martial arts: the combination between mechanical simplicity and technical complexity.
All martial arts are, at its base, easy-to-understand movements. It is necessary to keep in mind what each muscle involved is doing in each moment, breathing properly and being aware of our environment, but if we concentrate, we serve the explanations and we do it carefully, it is relatively easy that we go well. Making them well consistently, it is more difficult, and making them perfect is always very difficult. And making them perfect in a combat situation requires a level of concentration, knowledge and familiarity that is not daring to define as a superhuman. And so it is exactly how Sifu behaves with regard to the mechanical base of him.
In the basics, Sifu has four buttons to fight: strong attack, weak attack, stop and dodge. Technically, when we enter the combos, there are other elements involved, such as leaving brief pauses between pulsations, move the lever into determined movements or close a button instead of pressing it without further, but never reaches the level of complexity of a game of a game struggle. It is always perfectly possible to get it to the few attempts if we concentrate on the sequence. If we try it several times, it is easy for us to memorize it. And based on practice, most of the time sometimes will come out against enemies. But the key is in that “most times”.
SIFU is a demanding game. Two or three badly received blows can knock us out, and although it is possible to keep the lock button to stop all the normal blows we want, if we do not dodge the strong blows, they warn us with a red light at the enemies, we will end up Without a defense bar and we will receive damage equally. Something that, if it sounds at Sekiro, is because Sifu looks at an evident way in the mirror of the Souls in general, but from Sekiro in particular.
While we do not have a resistance bar, both our character and all rivals have a locking bar that is filling up if we make perfect defenses or if they receive blows while they block. This makes it, except when we use weapons, the normal will be that we broke its lock bar before its life bar, which will take us to a colorful execution where our character chained a series of Kung-Fu beats to end up with His rival as the camera makes virgerías to teach us from the best possible angle. If we add that we can steal weapons to our enemies and use them until they break, or even use scenario objects as improvised weapons, wielding them or pulling them directly to their face, we will never find ourselves in a situation where we do not have a couple of ways Alternatives to get out of step.
This makes Sifu always, at least, colorful, especially because rarely, not to say, we will find ourselves in a situation where we feel that we have absolute control over the situation.
In that sense, it is also a game like Sekiro. Understanding the bases is easy, but dominating them is difficult and the game wants us to dominate them. That means that all enemies can make dust modern if we neglect, that the bosses have their own routines that we must learn to counteract, and that if we try to spend SIFU without learning to dodge well or make perfect blockages we will find that the game itself It considers us worthy of seeing the end. After all, this is a game about Kung-Fu, the fight between six Kung-Fu teachers, and it would not make sense that there would be a teacher who had not learned how to do something as basic as knowing how to defend himself from the blows.
But as in Sekiro, death is not the end. Every time we die, he adds a year to the accountant, and then we resurrected with so many more years as years ago in the counter. If we die to the thirty with one counter of three, we will rise with thirty-three years thanks to a talisman, this yes, with mystical powers. That causes death that is not the end, but only until we reach seventy years, where the Taslimán will break, and we will only have an opportunity to finish the Run. Because as in the souls, there is no save point here, and unlike the Souls, Sifu drinks a lot from the roguelike.
Although there will probably be discussions about whether Sifu is really a roguelike, its structure is 1. We have five scenarios, all of them with at least one shortcut, and when unlocking we can skip whole sections of them. When arriving at a new scenario we can start directly from the scenarios we want, but we will always do it with the minimum age with which we arrived at the Run most successful we have had. That is, if we once arrived with thirty years at the second stage and again with twenty-four, from then on we will always start the second stage with twenty-four years, in addition to the elements that we unlock and the accumulated age in that Run, except Let us start from the first trying to improve our final age.
That makes the game have the cycle of a roguelike. We can start from the stage we want, and although a successful run does not have to be a one that starts from the first scenario, we will always have to return to previous scenarios to try to improve our age, the figure of our accountant, the _Build that we build Getting conditional improvements in the temple scattered on the scenarios, or all those things at the same time.
In that sense, all the elements of the game row in the same direction. Despite leading a lifetime studying martial arts, the protagonist barely is twenty years old and needs a literal life to meet the same, just as we need something more than reading the controls and practicing a little to be able to spend the game. That is, Sifu is a challenge because what is trying to do the protagonist is a challenge. Therefore, in a vacuum, all movements are easy to memorize and execute; In context, when we went from fighting Yonkis to fight against martial artists, and from there to a succession of Kung-Fu teachers capable of killing them alone entire gyms of martial artists, we check everything we lack to learn to become As people against which we face, even if we never stop feeling like we are able to do incredible things, even though others do even more incredible things.
That’s why we get more spectacular things. Because we are learning from our rivals. Because we imitate them. And in doing so, everything flows better, more naturally. Suddenly, we empty whole rooms without even thinking about. And for when we want to realize, if we have paid attention and we wanted to learn from each meeting, we will also be Masters of Kung-Fu.
That is where it is patent that Sifu is the soulslike of the martial arts. When we understand that, as in the Souls, the important thing is not doing things to the first, or getting it to brute force, but learn to use our tools, those of our rivals and be able to read their movements to respond accordingly. That is, there is no mystique of the martial arts that are worth; If we want to defeat the five Kung-Fu teachers who killed our father, we will have to be a Kung-Fu teacher even more capable than any of them five, even if it takes a lifetime to get it.
All this also translates to the narrative, because although the story is simple – a group of Kung-Fu teachers kill the father of the protagonist, a child by then, for which he decides to spend eight years training to fulfill his revenge -, The narrative has a colorful complexity that will remind us, again, to what the Souls do.
While in SIFU we have a clipping plank where elements of the history of the characters and some keys are accumulated, the game scenarios speak us constantly not only about each of the teachers, but also of their motivations. Elaping in a degraded area by the drug, in a club of Alto Standing, in a contemporary museum, in a company known for its social work, and in a clinic that mix modern and traditional medicine, each of these sites and encounters that We have in them tell us a story. Something especially evident in the museum, which is a succession of the artistic works of Kung-Fu teacher against which we will face there, but that is given in all the scenarios, even in the enemy class we found in each room in Particular, making the game do not need to tell us with words the vast majority of what has happened to reach the situation in which the characters are located.
Of course, all that would not be possible if the art department was not up to height. But luckily, it does not only meet, but also demonstrates an exquisite taste. With a markedly pictorial style, with a great emphasis on light and colors, but also in an excellent design of characters that could well be a version lowpoly of some characters made of watercolor by Genndy Tartakovsky, the game invariably reminds us of movies like John Wick, The Raid or The Villasoss on how he tackles scenarios and light, even if he infinitely recalls The Grandmaster, and Wong Kar-Wai’s work in general, in the use of colors, something that only breaks, with Large results, in the Museum’s Mentado Scenario, which by its extraordinary use of whites and light remind what they did Dan Gilroy in Velvet Buzzsaw.
This, which may seem like a salad of names that is not going anywhere, serves less to try to destroy the references of SLOCLAP, which in the end we do not know, that to point out the absolute care behind the art of the game. Where many videogames seem to drink from one or two references and forget about there, Sifu creates a rich, diverse universe, and that although it can remind us of numerous works, and circumscribe without problems within a certain current of modern film cinema, it has Such a marked personality that it is impossible to deny that it works by itself, something to which another point contributes where almost all modern audiovisual fails: music.
The soundtrack, composed by the musician Howie Lee, is an eclectic mix of electronics and an intensive use of traditional Chinese instruments. Associating a specific instrument to each scenario and each element thereof, the technical application of the same to the game makes it always enhances the intensity of the fighting, but also that we have a much more experienced image of each scenario and each character, while Each one has its own sound game. All this results in a soundtrack that fits perfectly to the game, but that is singular by itself, resulting in which, probably, will be one of the most serious candidates of best soundtracks of the year, not only from the videogame, but of audiovisual in general.
There lies the beauty of SIFU: all its elements work separately, resulting in examples of what is true refinement of the technique; A certifice of a knowledge acquired through years of practice and extraordinary sensitivity. But also, they also work perfectly when interrelated with each other. Nothing in Sifu seems off site; They are rivers converging in the same lake, which make it up and are part of it, being independent at the same time.
That’s why SIFU does not grind at any time. It never seems to be condescending with martial arts or with Chinese culture. Because the story could elapse anywhere and would not change its excellent mechanical design, but the narrative, how it sounds, how it looks, should be something completely different to adjust to the cultural particularities of the site where history is now. In that sense, it is difficult to make it exquisite with the possible defects of SIFU. Because it is true that it is a difficult game. That his developers tell a story that takes place in China without being Chinese. But the reverence with which SLOCLAP is about its mechanical base, its art and its narrative is so prodigious that any complaint sounds like a cry underwater: Maybe you can feel that you have reasons to do it, but it does not seem prudent drowning to say something that nobody You will hear.