Sifu is a nail-bitingly hard 3D brawler that is sure to test your mettle. While the game is unique in how it handles death – allowing its main character to revive themself – dying still comes at a cost. The more you die, the older your character gets, and if they get too old, you’ll lose the ability to resurrect, after which any subsequent deaths will result in a game over.
As such, you’ll want to avoid death where you can in Sifu. Here are some tips and tricks we found imperative to staying alive in this difficult game.
Keep your guard up, but watch your Structure meter
Sifu greatly discourages aggressive, undisciplined play. Trying to button-mash your way to a victory will more than likely end in a game over. Instead, try taking a more defensive approach to combat; don’t be afraid to let your opponents strike first. If playing on a controller, you can block by hitting the left shoulder button. While blocking will mitigate incoming damage, you’ll want to keep an eye on your Structure gauge, which will fill up with every attack you eat. If it breaks, then you’ll be staggered for a short time, and unable to defend yourself.
If you hit the block button right before an attack lands, you’ll perform a parry. You can then follow this up with your own attacks. This is a good way to not just deal damage to an opponent, but also drastically reduce their Structure gauge, opening them up to takedowns.
Dodge special attacks
While most attacks can be blocked, some can’t. Enemies performing unblockable attacks will glow prior to striking. When these sorts of attacks are incoming, you need to dodge. You can dodge by holding the block button, and moving the left stick in the direction you’d like to dodge.
After dodging the last hit of an enemy’s combo, they’ll typically be open to a counterattack. Deliver your strongest attack during this time to take full advantage of the hole in their defenses.
Keep an eye out for weapons
There are a ton of weapons scattered about each of Sifu’s levels. If you find one, you should grab it right away. Weapons are a great way to quickly get rid of your foes. They’re also versatile; by pressing the right shoulder button, you can throw your weapon to kill enemies from afar.
Grab every Shrine possible
Each of Sifu’s five levels have at least three Shrines that you can earn a variety of buffs from. Some of these buffs will increase your max Structure gauge, while others will grant you additional Focus Bars, or even reset your death counter to zero. Some of these upgrades can go a long way in keeping you alive, so we recommend you keep an eye out for Shrines whenever possible.
If you’re curious about which upgrades you should pick up, here’s a list of some that we found particularly useful while playing:
- Focus Reserve (adds one-half of a Focus bar)
- Death Counter (resets death counter to zero)
- Health Gained on Takedowns (increases health restored during takedowns)
Purchase and permanently unlock skills
Using XP earned during levels, you can purchase a variety of skills from either the tree in the Wuguan, Shrines, or the game’s death screen. These skills grant you different active abilities, such as new moves.
It should be noted that every skill you’ve purchased will be lost following a game over, but you can permanently unlock skills by pouring hefty amounts of XP into any one of your unlocked skills. Here are some of our favorite skills in the game:
- Environmental Mastery (you can kick objects towards enemies to hit them)
- Ground Counter (you can counter after being knocked to the ground)
- Slide Kick (you can perform a sliding kick that knocks enemies down)
Control the crowd with throws
One of Sifu’s more forgettable techniques is throwing, as it requires a somewhat precise setup. That said, it is an invaluable tool when surrounded by enemies. To throw folks, you simply have to parry them, and then hit the “square” and “cross” buttons at the same time while holding a direction on the left stick. Your character will then throw your opponent.
Throwing an enemy towards a crowd can easily disrupt it, giving you some much-needed breathing room. You can also throw enemies off of high ledges to easily defeat them.
Use your Focus moves
As you play Sifu, you’ll gradually build up your Focus bar, which is visible in the bottom-left-hand corner of the screen. Once it’s full, you can unleash a Focus move, which is a special kind of attack that will disrupt your opponent’s behavior, as well as deal out a healthy amount of Structure and health damage. You can purchase more Focus moves from the game’s skill tree.
You can also earn additional Focus bars via the game’s Shrine upgrades. Through these upgrades, you can earn up to three full Focus bars. We highly recommend doing this, as some of these moves require a pretty hefty amount of Focus to pull off.
Practice at the Wuguan
If there’s an aspect of Sifu you’re struggling with, interact with the wooden practice dummy at the Wuguan to enter practice mode. Here, you can practice against an AI opponent whose behavior you can modify at will. This is a great way to test out many techniques listed here, such as dodging or parrying, as well as practice certain combos you might want to use.