Sifu has about 160 moves for its main character to pull off, each suited for a particular situation and painstakingly recreated from real-life performances.
A new behind-the-scenes video from Sifu developer Sloclap delves into the process of bringing the main character's martial arts, based on the real-life practice of Pak Mei, into the game. Sloclap animation director Kevin Roger explains in the video that the developers' post-animate real-life performance capture data, syncing up the action and adding "real impacts" since they don't actually let the actors hit each other. In the end, "the player must be amazed on each finishing move they perform."
Martial arts expert Benjamin Colussi explains in the video that crafting the attacks is a collaborative process open to improvisation; for instance, one finisher was set to end with a stab, but he realized that it would work better in this context to simply cut the throat. Nobody ever said waging a one-man war for vengeance through legions of goons would be nice - but it's Roger's job to make sure it always looks cool.
"Actually, there are, I don't know, maybe 160 moves, only for the main character," Roger said. "Each move was designed for a particular situation. It needs to be effective, it needs to be credible, and it needs to be beautiful. The player can just rush and evade, but he can also kill all of them with style. That idea is the heart of Sifu."
Sifu is set to hit PC, PS4, and PS5 on February 22, 2022.
Check out our Sifu preview to see what we thought of our time with Sloclap's ambitious martial arts tale.