This martial arts action-adventure title isn't like most fighting games. Instead of moving only from left to right, players navigate spaces in Sifu where they can slide, run, and vault in any direction, turning play into an exhilarating, action-packed brawler as gamers fend off people with assorted fighting styles. Learning how they attack and counter is essential for exploiting openings and using these tactics against opponents. There's a default list of combos to master, but more can be earned from defeating foes for experience points. Points earned by chaining attacks together can be spent to improve attributes like Structure and Focus, which improves the player's block and fills a special meter for powerful, unstoppable attacks. Situational awareness is critical as well, since players can pick up weapons and items strewn around rooms to stun enemies, as well as knock enemies into walls or each other.
Similar to Dark Souls, repetition is intentional, because the controls and enemies take time to learn. This can be disheartening after being stuck for a couple of hours, but patience is rewarded, and time respected. After reaching major checkpoints, players can search for keys that bypass entire sections of levels or even skip right to a boss. Moves can be permanently kept only by spending more points, so besides this and items discovered, death resets everything the player acquires if they don't make it to the end of a level. Another reason to go back and perfect levels is that the player's character ages every time he or she is revived from death, so the goal is to keep a low death count and age with each cleared stage. Otherwise, it will be harder to reach the game's end, as the player becomes old and runs out of revives too soon. Understanding how progression works is confusing, which is why players need to be self-determined to organize objectives and find their footing. But once players get a feel for the game's structure, it's absolutely astonishing to play and watch. Beautiful visuals, mesmerizing animation, and blood-pumping beats elevate the thrill of beating up baddies in this refined, stylish fighting title.