Community Review: We Should Talk About Sifu

Community Review: We Should Talk About Sifu

Happy Wednesday, friends. This week’s Community Review might be a more serious one, but it’s a conversation we should look at meaningfully.

Last week saw the release of Sifu, a martial arts action game with roguelike elements from French developer Sloclap. The game was immediately lauded by a great many outlets for its kinetic and combo-driven approach to combat, its steep challenge, and its novel age-to-power mechanic. The PS5 version holds an equal critic and user score, an 80 from critics and 8.0 from users. I can’t remember the last time I saw complete consensus on Metacritic.

Sifu was quite fairly taken to task by Asian communities in games for its haphazard implementation of Chinese languages and cultural touchstones. In their review for The Gamer, Khee Hoon Chan called the game “a soulless caricature”. The review followed a report in January, also by Chan, that pointed out no one on the Sifu development team was actually Asian. Even the real-world martial arts specialist the team turned to when researching for the game, Ben Colussi, is white.

That said, not every Asian voice who reviewed the game found it lacking. Gene Park from the Washington Post quite liked the Sifu, particularly its “firecracker” of an introduction. Henry Yu at Gaming Nexus also found a lot to like.

Ultimately, though it’s generally agreed that Sifu‘s attempts at recreating Asian culture were clumsy, it seems like the broader response was largely positive. To have a Metacritic score so perfectly aligned is an event rare enough to warrant printing a screenshot and having it framed.

So, that’s what the internet thought. How about you? Let us know your thoughts on Sifu in the comments below. A humble request: Keep the discussion clean, and keep it civil. We’re grown-ups here. Let’s act like it.

Comments

  • Haven’t played it yet, I’m holding off for Elden Ring.
    Keen to though, Resolver was alright for what it was and Sifu looks good.

    On the subject, I’m always for bringing in the experts when you want to get the look and feel right.
    Look at games like Ghost of Tsushima, the most anyone could say against it in Japan was the general dialogue structure wasn’t quite as authentic as you’d expect and they threw that away entirely in praise of the game.
    Same with the Last Samurai, I fairly tired trope of a film but the authenticity was hard to argue with experts on hand and actors like Ken Wantanabe providing the smaller touches from experience in historical fun and TV.

    • Ghost of Tsushima was well researched enough that the island’s government made some of the developers permanent ambassadors to the island. It’s a high benchmark, but definitely something games and their research teams can aspire to.

  • ” Sifu was quite fairly taken to task by Asian communities in games for its haphazard implementation of Chinese languages and cultural touchstones. ”

    No, one writer at the dumpster fire known as “The Gamer” cried about the game because they believe only Asian people should be able to make games featuring Asian culture, Believing that this game being made somehow removes the ability for Asian developers to make such a game. The very same writer whose twitter history contains quite a lot of racism towards white people. So excuse me if i question their integrity when writing about this given they obviously have a bias.

    This game has actually been quite well received in China. Chinese gamers and reviewers have loved the game.

    We saw this same logic when Ghosts of Tsushima came out, American journos claiming the game is offensive to Asians/ Japanese culture yet Japanese gamers fucking loved the game, Heck the developers were made honorary ambassadors of the town of Tsushima because they thought the representation of their culture was so accurate.

    This idea that white people cannot make games about other cultures is peak idiocy. You dont ever see these same journalists complain about Japanese developers making games about Western culture. The game is not a documentary of Chinese culture. It’s a tribute to hong kong cinema.

    • Personally, I hadn’t even heard of ‘TheGamer’ at all before this article.

      This sort of thing legitimately reminds me of things people write rambling on about rumours for movies, games, etc, all like “Rumour has it the next GTA might be set on Mars…”, and then their ‘source’ turns out to be some insane tweet from some random that the author found while Googling ‘next GTA rumours’.

  • I’m having a blast!
    It is a ton of fun, can sometimes kick your ass quite a bit which is also awesome.
    A lot of inspiration from various martial arts films (a corridor section very reminiscent of Oldboy is particularly striking)
    Overall I would say the developers nailed what they set out to do.

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