Sifu looks pretty neat: A singleplayer brawler that's focused entirely on one fighting style, Pak Mei Kung Fu, with consultation from one of the school's masters. It was announced earlier this year with a late 2021 release window, but a new trailer shown on Sony's State of Play stream today has pushed it back to early 2022.
Also pushed in the trailer: a guy, down some stairs, and another guy, off a balcony. You can watch that above.
The main reason I'm curious about Sifu, aside from the cool trailers, is that it comes from Sloclap. The developer's previous game, Absolver, is a favorite of mine: an unusual, very good multiplayer-focused fighting game with quite a high skill ceiling. It feels clear that this game is going to be distinctive, too, whether or not it's as successfully designed as that one.
The new trailer above focuses on one of Sifu's more peculiar features: Every time you "die," the main character gets older. The trailer doesn't explain what that means, really, and neither did executive producer Pierre Tarno when I interviewed him about Sifu after it was announced. He indicated that you don't become weaker as you age, the idea being that you're becoming an old kung fu master. However, "there is a limit to how much you can age," Tarno said at the Future Games Show last month. So, does that mean you have to restart the whole game if you get too old? It's unclear. In the new trailer, the character starts at age 40 and is 54 by the end. I'm not sure if that tells us anything.
More importantly, I still want to see what the controller inputs look like during these fights. There are some complicated holds and combos in the trailers—but how do you execute those? From Sloclap, I wouldn't expect complicated inputs to be the focus. Based on my experience with Absolver, I expect attack selection and timing, positioning, and stamina management to have primacy, but I don't really know.
However the fighting works, I expect it to be a challenge. Tarno suggested to me that "mastery through practice," the meaning of "kung fu" itself, is the theme of the game. I have high hopes, and the slight release window shift is not unexpected. From talking to Sloclap, the 2021 date felt a bit like a guess when it was first announced.