Sifu is a beautiful yet punishing game that will take a mile out of every inch you give it whenever you make a mistake. Case in point: The more you die, the older you become.
Although you can reverse your aging by knocking out the culprit responsible for your demise, doing so is much easier said than done. In addition to working against time, your opponents aren’t exactly pushovers; many of them are just as skilled if not more so than you are.
Having said that, Sifu isn’t necessarily unfair—it’s just challenging. Thankfully, with these eight Sifu gameplay tips, you can level the playing field and make avenging your father a wee bit less frustrating.
(If the game’s premise sounds intriguing, you can get Sifu with some PSN cards over at OffGamers here.)
On to the list!
1. The “Older” Skills Aren’t Necessarily Worse
In Sifu, your skills are all tied to your age. By design, many useful skills—like Weapon Mastery, which lets you use weapons until they break—become locked out to you once you become 30. Essentially, if you die enough to reach this threshold (which can happen quite quickly), you may find yourself locked out of some of the game’s flashiest skills.
But don’t worry, as even Sifu‘s “older” skills can be quite handy. This is especially true of skills such as Environmental Mastery, which is available until you age to 60.
2. Use the Grab Mechanic as Often as You Can
Parrying is a no-brainer in Sifu. What isn’t is grabbing. This mechanic lets you, well, grab enemies after you block their attacks by pressing the Square and Cross buttons simultaneously. This will let you push the enemy where you are aiming, which is a particularly useful skill when you’re fighting near staircases and other places where you can throw enemies from tall heights.
Because Sifu is effectively a martial arts film turned into a video game, most levels are designed so that you can throw enemies into walls, from rooftops, and more. Use this to your advantage.
3. Don’t Be Afraid To Start All Over Again
Familiarize yourself with The Squats, because it’s where you’ll be spending your time the most. As with most roguelikes, Sifu encourages you to repeat “runs” until you get things right. Your first few runs aren’t going to be great—and that’s OK. It’ll take a few dozen tries for you to figure out the best early-game, mid-game, and late-game strategies as you experiment with different upgrades and carve out your own play style.
The thing with Sifu is that the game surprises you at every turn. Just when you think you’ve got things all figured out, you find out there’s a huge difference between playing through The Museum or The Club when you’re a lot younger or older. You might even be surprised at how different it is to play with a clean Death Counter when you start a level.
4. Getting Old Doesn’t Have To Be So Bad
On that note, getting old isn’t the worst thing that can happen in Sifu (or in real life). As they say, wisdom comes with age.
In Sifu, you might be more brittle and easier to take down, but you also pack more of a wallop. Playing with caution once you reach your ’50s, and especially so in your ’70s, is a great idea, but don’t be afraid to dish out your surprisingly effective attacks and counters either. When you factor in your attack bonuses in your ’70s, a well-timed strike will be more than enough to take out most enemies.
5. Weapons! Weapons! Weapons!
Bruce Lee had his nunchucks, so why shouldn’t your character in Sifu have a weapon? Remember: Blocking and avoiding can only do so much. When your enemies have weapons, which they often will, you’ll need something that will give you a fair shot at taking them down without taking too much damage.
Enter weapons. Even a simple bottle can do wonders for the flow of combat and put you at a significant advantage.
6. Cheesing Isn’t Cheating
Cheesing will not always work. Sifu is a game that’s designed to catch you off guard. However, there are certain situations when blocking and parrying followed by a fast attack can land you some cheap shots against particularly difficult enemies, including bosses. Don’t be afraid to do this when you’re backed into a corner.
7. Learn the Levels
Unlike other roguelikes where levels and enemies change from run to run, Sifu remains the same. Instead, the game is designed with many twists and turns, so much so that it’ll take you several hours to figure out all the nuances. Although Sifu only has five levels, each one has tons of replay value. Before long, you’ll find yourself jotting down notes about where to go, what kind of enemies are located where, and the placement of various shortcuts and weapons.
Once you know the levels in Sifu like the palm of your hand, you’ll start weaving your way through each one with as few confrontations as possible.
8. Be Patient
Our last Sifu tip is to take your time. Speed kills, but going in headfirst is worse. Never rush into combat situations that will literally only make you age faster. If you feel you’re getting cornered or overwhelmed, stay away and give yourself some space.
Use this opportunity to get a good look at your predicament so you can start formulating a viable strategy. This may or may not work, but at least it will give you your best chance of survival.
Mastering the Art of Sifu
Sifu is a game that revolves around seeking revenge and looking cool while doing it. Unfortunately, the gameplay is a constant uphill climb that will test you at every turn. The good news is that it’s not punishing to the point of feeling unintuitive.
So long as you learn how the game works and you listen to our tips, you should get a good grasp of combat in no time, so you can start avenging your sifu and stop growing old and dying.