Congratulations to the PlayStation Community! I’m Felix, Marketing Manager at Sloclap, and I worked with the team to give you a brief overview of Sifu’s combat system and a glimpse into our design choices.
Based on our experience working on martial arts gameplay with Absolver, but this time focusing on single-player games, we wanted to provide a unique player experience with Sifu, heavily drawn from kung fu and martial arts movies. Drawing. Fighting dozens of baddies in a nightclub, jumping on tables and throwing bottles, we want the player to feel like the main character of a kung fu movie.
In terms of design, this meant for us a balance between reliability – realistic combat techniques, faithful animations – and aesthetics, with crisp action and immersive camera framing. With Sifu, we wanted to mix the aesthetics of classic kung fu movies with the raw close-quarters combat found in modern movies like The Raid, Old Boy or John Wick.
The combat system derives from these various inspirations. We want the gameplay to present a challenge in line with the kung fu values of training and self-improvement. And we want players to experience a progression, feel like they’re learning kung fu, improving, and progressively earning their power imagination.
We’ve designed what we call the formation system, to simulate the real combat perception of your opponent’s ability to influence and break their stance, attack and defend themselves. This takes the form of a gauge for both you and your enemies. If you manage to break your opponent’s structure, you’ll be able to finish them off with a powerful takedown, which is an opportunity to demonstrate Pak Mei’s destructive techniques. But if your own structure gauge is full, you are unable to fight and defend yourself for a short time and you will find yourself vulnerable to attacks from your enemies.
Blocking attacks will fill up your balance gauge quickly, and we’ve given players some more flexible defensive options. Dodge will allow you to be in place at critical times and can be a life saver. But more importantly, hitting at the right time can unbalance your opponent and open up opportunities to counterattack or knock them down. You can avoid blows altogether, by jumping down or under oncoming attacks. This is especially useful against strong hits that you can’t parry or balance quickly and strike back at your opponent.
The player will start out with an offensive kit capable of tackling any opposition, but it will take you some time to learn the various qualities of the techniques available to you. You can combine strong and fast attacks to create combos, to attack one enemy or move from one opponent to another. And as you progress and unlock new skills, you’ll have more options to fit your play style and how to deal with challenging situations. You’ll be able to knock down your enemies, push them back into their allies, stun them or disable a threatening enemy. This will be especially useful as you start fighting more and more opponents at the same time.
Fighting against multiple enemies is at the heart of Sifu’s gameplay experience. Our goal was to find the right balance between making the player feel surrounded and challenged, but at the same time not be overwhelmed by the amount of aggression that ensued. We chose to use a dynamic lock system for the camera to allow for quick and responsive swapping between multiple targets. We’ve worked on optimizing the game to ensure a stable 60FPS frame rate on PlayStation 4 as well as PS4 Pro and PS5, to provide a smooth and responsive experience. We want combat to feel like a back-and-forth motion, with enemies forcing players to react, using a variety of crowd control techniques, and good positioning to prevail.
In addition to relying on their favorite pak mei techniques, players will have to make clever use of the environment to overcome the unfavorable obstacles in front of them. We’ve introduced elements usable for all combat situations, whether it’s furniture you can throw at your enemies’ feet, throwable objects, floating weapons or tables that you can leap over. They add options for players, who are free to view a situation from different angles.
Finally, players will be able to rely on precise and powerful techniques through the focus mechanic. Focus is a resource that builds up as you fight, charging fees that you’ll unlock progressively during your playthrough. Using Focus Charge will slow down time and allow you to select your opponent’s weak point to perform a devastating technique, incapacitating or seriously injuring your enemy. Players will be able to unlock new skills as well as access various focus attacks, allowing them to adapt to the specific situations they struggle with.
This overview can give you an idea of what will be expected of you in order to learn kung fu and gain your revenge in sifu, but nothing replaces good practice.
Sifu will release on PS4 and PS5 on February 8, 2022. Find out more about Sifu’s death and aging system in our next PlayStation blog post, which will be published later today.