Sloclap Talks Sifu – Inspiration, Aging and Martial Arts (Interview)

Possibly one of the most intriguing games headed to the PS4, PS5 and PC next year is Sloclap’s Sifu — a game that’s not only about martial arts, but about aging as well. MP1st had the chance to talk to Sloclap about the upcoming brawler, and we asked about the aging process, bosses, and more!

Talking to us about the game is Executive Producer Pierre Tarno, who gave excellent answers on the questions we threw his way.

MP1st: Does dying play any role in the narrative? Will the assassins/enemies react differently to say facing off a younger version than an older version of the main character?

Tarno: Enemies will react to the main character rising back up after dying, but they will not react differently depending on their age.

MP1st:  Is Sifu a timed console exclusive? What’s the deal there? 🙂

Tarno: Nothing to share yet there but if that changes we’ll let you know!

MP1st:  Will there be different fighting styles like in Absolver? If so, how does that play in the whole death mechanics? For example, if I opt for one fighting style over another will the main character become more proficient in that style? What about upgrades and skills, will those act differently as the character ages?

Tarno: There are hundreds of fighting combinations in Sifu but it’s wholly different from Absolver in that it’s all in real time and not card-based at all, and also rooted in the Pak Mei style of Kung Fu – so you will never come across someone doing Drunken Boxing or Karate like in Absolver. The game is focused on a single fighting style but the variety of moves and combinations keep things fresh and feeling unique.

Regarding skills and aging though, aging does not have a negative effect on your skills. You will lose maximum health as you age but the trade off is that you have more offensive power.

MP1st: Let’s say I’ve learned all there is to know about Sifu, and become a “master” of Kung Fu and all. Is it possible to beat the campaign without ever dying and/or aging?

Tarno: Yes!

Sifu

MP1st: Is this how difficulty is being handled? The less you die the “harder” it is, or the more you age the “easier” fights become? Are there difficulty options?

Tarno: We want Sifu to challenge players and to encourage them to learn, improve and adapt. The ability to rise up from death will help new players by allowing them to fail and try again multiple times when they face difficulty. But the price of mistakes will rapidly increase, and in order to fully complete the game they will have to master the combat system.

There will not be difficulty setting at launch, but this is something we may implement later.

MP1st: How old can the player get? If you can’t answer that, I suppose, can players only die so many times before it’s game over? How does that work?

Tarno: The more you die, the faster you will age. This takes the form of a death counter: the first time you die, you’ll age by one year. The second time, by two years, the third by three, and so on. The only way to lower or reset that counter is to use one of the available shrines or beat specific enemies such as the chapter bosses.

Ending a chapter will reset your death counter, but your age will not be affected. There is no way to get younger, you will only get older as you fall and get back up – you can cheat death for a while, but in the end time catches with everyone. Past a certain age, you won’t have enough life left in you to sustain the pendant, and you won’t be able to get back up anymore. Your ultimate death will translate into a definitive game over.

MP1st: Ballpark estimate for the campaign length? Can we expect it to be as long as Absolver? No multiplayer this time around, what can players expect in terms of replay value?

Tarno: The campaign length will vary depending on the Kung Fu skills of the player. In terms of replay value, there are a couple of hidden secrets inside the game that might take a couple runs for players to fully understand.

MP1st: Let’s talk about the DualSense how is the team utilizing the new PlayStation controller? Obviously I don’t know the control scheme of things but I can imagine if say the block was mapped out to one of the triggers there might be some forced feedback? Tell us something.

Tarno: We can’t go into too much details yet, but Sifu will support PS5 specific features, including haptic feedback!

MP1st: My dad was a grandmaster in Ngo Cho Kun Kung-Fu (and Praying Mantis), and I practiced Kung-Fu, MMA, arnis, and other martial arts growing up, as well. What particular style does Sifu use in the game? What martial arts are its inspiration?

Tarno: Wow that’s awesome! The style we are focused on for Sifu is the Pak Mei style. Jordan (our creative director) and myself, as well as others in the studio have various backgrounds in martial arts but Jordan specifically trained in the Pak Mei style. We’ve worked closely with a sifu here in France to make sure the details of the Pak Mei study are represented accurately in the game. There’s so much history and nuance across all of the styles but we’ve been super inspired by diving deep into this one for Sifu.

MP1st: Can SloClap name who their martial arts advisor(s) are in terms of background?

Tarno: Absolutely – we’ve worked closely with Benjamin Colussi, a Pak Mei master and the Sifu fight choreographer. Benjamin has been studying martial arts since he was 14, eventually making his way to China to study under a master there.

MP1st: Are the devs of SloClap familiar with the Yip-Man series of films or even Once Upon a Time in China (Jet Li’s)? What films inspired Sifu in terms of martial arts and combat choreography?

Tarno: The list is not exhaustive, but for the immersion and impact feeling : The Raid (Gareth Evans), John Wick (Chad Stahelski), Sha Po Lang (Wilson Yip), Tom-Yum-Goong (Prachya Pinkaew).

Jackie Chan’s movies for the one versus multiple enemies and use of environment : Police story (Jackie Chan), Dragons Forever (Sammo Hung), Miracles (Jackie Chan).

And other ones, not necessarily Kung-fu movies, but references we liked that influenced our work story-wise : Fearless (Ronny Yu), The Blade (Tsui Hark), Blade of the immortal (Samura), Kill Bill (Quentin Tarantino).

MP1st: In terms of weapon combat, will the game feature any weapon-based martial art like arnis (kali), knife-fighting and the sort?

Tarno: No, the game is focused on Kung Fu, and some traditional weapons like the long staff will be available at different points of the game, as well as some more crude alternatives (machete, metal bar etc.) More exotic martial arts weapons will be used by some of your enemies.

MP1st: What made Sloclap decide to focus on the Eastern-side of the world? I mean, in terms of setting, combat and the like, it’s clearly inspired by Hong Kong, and other Asian countries’ form of combat.

Tarno: We set out to make an authentic Kung Fu action game and setting it in a fictional Chinese city made the most sense to us. A lot of the original members of Sloclap have or still practice martial arts and take it very seriously. That’s why we enlisted Benjamin Colussi, a master himself, to join the team and consult with us to make sure every detail in our combat and things like the Wuguan were authentic in details.

MP1st: In martial arts movies, a “boss” or the main villain usually gives our hero a run for their money due to how well-versed they are in combat. Is this the case in Sifu? Like, will players feel that bosses and main villains will be better in combat or is it more of a case of these enemies having longer health bars, they take less damage, etc.?

Tarno: Bosses in Sifu will offer a very different gameplay experience from other fight situations. We want them to push players to their limits and force them to adapt to different and changing patterns. Bosses will each have a specific style of combat.


We’d like to thank Sloclap for taking the time out to speak to MP1st. Sifu will be launching on the PS4, PS5, and PC February 8, 2022

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