A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
A classic revenge tale with several assassins to eliminate, along with everyone else who stands with them. Prompts some reflection on dangers of vengeance, how it can sweep up a person, and others around them, in a path of destruction that does more harm than good. Players can find ways to spare key enemies for a more hopeful ending.
Positive Role Models
Besides some neutral bystanders, everyone is antagonistic and corrupt. While main villains make pretense of being good by leading organizations that heal the sick or aid the poor, these are more like fronts for more nefarious goals to fill their pockets and attain power by any means.
Most of cast is Asian with majority being Chinese and a minority being Japanese. Equal mix of male and female characters of varying ages and body types. Player can be a man or woman. Most dialogue accurately reflects player's chosen gender, but rare slips with pronoun usage among enemies assume default choice is male even when playing as a woman. Game creates its own mishmash of iconic yet stereotypical settings, fight scenarios, and character types seen in popular kung fu films.
Did we miss something on diversity? Suggest an update.
Ease of Play
While not as overwhelming as traditional fighting games with lists of combos, Sifu still has a sizable amount of moves to learn. Players will need a lot of patience for feeling out the combat system, also for memorizing how enemies fight with their speedy and crafty precision. Unfortunately, game's training area doesn't help much, since players can't select foes to practice against. Death will occur frequently with many difficult encounters, but persistence pays off when players acknowledge that -- much like martial arts itself -- repetition is key to improvement. Progression system and pacing are unconventional and confusing, but players should adjust after a few hours.
Violence & Scariness
Players brutally punch, kick, bash their way through countless groups of people. Strikes draw blood that spatters across objects, but most enemies are not killed. Most are knocked unconscious or left groaning and crumpled on the floor. The later introduction of machetes means that players can kill enemies by slicing or impaling them, but there's no gore or dismemberment. Two characters have their throats slit in two cutscenes, but these cut to black before anything is shown.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Enemies will express annoyance and shock toward the player's presence and performance with superficial exclamations. "Damn," "ass," "s--t," and "f--k" are frequently shouted.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
One level is set amid an illegal drug operation with a fictional flower processed into a hallucinogenic powder, but besides some characters crashed on couches, no one's shown using it. The same lack of depiction extends to a club setting where untouched beer bottles and wine glasses litter tables. One of the villains gets close-ups while smoking a cigarette.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Sifu is a downloadable single-player fighting game available for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Windows PCs. Players watch the main character's father die at the hands of Yang -- a former kung fu student -- and his four followers. After eight years of training, players enact revenge by taking out these assassins one by one. Sifu is a difficult yet rewarding experience that has many moves and enemies to learn by heart. Players will be repeating levels several times over through trial and error as they expand their kung fu repertoire and upgrade their character's stats. Sifu is a constant stream of artful yet brutal martial arts moves, where enemies are left incapacitated and slightly bloody. Some can be stabbed and sliced with blades, but no gore is present. Enemies frequently cuss with expletives like "f--k" and "s--t." While there's an implication of drugs and alcohol use, nothing is shown. One character is shown smoking a cigarette in cutscenes.
Is It Any Good?
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.