Hello PlayStation Community! I’m Felix, Marketing Manager at Sloclap, and I’ve worked with the team to give you this quick overview of Sifu’s combat system and take a look at our design choices.
Based on our experiences with martial arts gameplay with Absolver, but focusing on single player this time, we wanted to offer a unique gameplay with Sifu, drawing heavily on kung fu and martial arts movies. Fighting dozens of nightclub villains, jumping over tables and throwing bottles, we want the player to feel like the protagonist of a kung fu movie.
In terms of design, this meant striking a balance for us between authenticity – realistic fighting techniques, authentic animation – and aesthetics with crisp movement and breathtaking camera footage. At Sifu, we wanted to combine the aesthetics of classic kung fu films with the brutal hand-to-hand combat found in modern films like Raid, The Old Man, or John Wick.
The combat system draws inspiration from these different ideas. We want the gameplay to offer a challenge that aligns with the values of kung fu – training and self-improvement. And we want players to experience progress, to feel like they are learning kung fu, perfecting and gradually earning their powerful fantasy.
We have developed what we have called the Structure system to mimic the true combat concept of your opponent’s strike and offense, his ability to attack and defend. It takes the form of a scale for both you and your enemies. If you manage to break your opponent’s structure, you can end him with a powerful takedown, which is an opportunity to demonstrate Park Mei’s destructive moves. But if your own structure bar is full, you will not be able to fight and defend for a short time, and you will be vulnerable to enemy attacks.
Blocking attacks will fill your balance quickly, and we’ve given players some more flexible defense options. Tricks can help you free up space at key moments and can be life-saving. But more importantly, parrying blows at the right time will allow you to deflect the blow, throw your opponent off balance, and open up opportunities for counterattacking or throwing them off. You can also completely avoid hits by dodging or jumping over incoming hits. This is especially useful against hard hits that you cannot parry, or to quickly regain balance and retaliate against an opponent.
The player will start with offensive gear that can deal with any opponent, but it will take you some time to learn the various properties of the techniques available to you. You can combine strong and fast attacks to create combos on one enemy or jump from one enemy to another. As you progress and discover new skills, you will have more options to match your play style and approach to challenging situations. You will be able to knock your enemies down, push them against allies, stun them or disarm a threatening enemy. This will be especially useful if you start fighting more and more opponents at the same time.
Battling multiple enemies is at the heart of Sifu’s gameplay. We aimed to find the right balance between making the player feel surrounded and challenged, but not overwhelmed by the amount of aggression going on at the same time. We decided to use a dynamic locking system for the camera to enable fast and quick switching between multiple targets. We’ve worked on optimizing the game to deliver consistent 60fps on the PlayStation 4, and of course on the PS4 Pro and PS5, to ensure smoothness and responsiveness. We want combat to feel like back and forth where enemies force players to react, use different crowd control techniques and good positioning to win.
Aside from using their favorite Park Mei moves, players will have to use their environment wisely to overcome the adverse odds they face. We have introduced useful elements into all combat situations, whether it be furniture that can be thrown at the feet of the enemy, throwing objects, improvised weapons or tables that you can jump over. They add options for players to approach a given situation from different angles.
Finally, players will be able to rely on precise and powerful techniques thanks to the focusing mechanic. Focus is a resource that builds up as you fight, filling up the charges that you gradually unlock as you progress. Using a Focus Charge will slow down time and allow you to target your opponent’s weak point in order to perform devastating techniques, incapacitating or seriously wounding your enemy. Players will be able to access a variety of focus attacks, unlocking new skills that will allow them to adapt to the specific situations they are struggling with.
This overview may give you an idea of what is expected of you when you learn Kung Fu and take revenge in Shifu, but there is no substitute for good practice.
Sifu will be released on PS4 and PS5 on February 8, 2022. Find out more about the Sifu Death and Aging System in our next PlayStation Blog post, due out today.