Sifu, developed by Absolver studio Sloclap, is a bare-knuckle martial arts title inspired by the likes of The Raid and John Wick. The main character is out for revenge for the death of his family and will have to train to defeat his adversaries. In addition to fighting with your fists, you can also use the environment to your advantage and grab makeshift weapons to succeed. Intrigued by the compelling action gameplay, we spoke to Pierre Tarno, the Executive Producer at Sloclap, and asked for more information on this anticipated indie title.
Learning From the Greats
RetroWare: What inspired Sloclap to develop this project? Can you give us an elevator pitch on why our readers should be excited to play the game?
Pierre Tarno: We’ve always been fans of classic Kung Fu movies and martial arts action movies in general. With Sifu, we want to show authentic Kung Fu in a serious and credible setting. We want to offer the players an immersive experience as a lone martial arts expert confronting dangerous situations and unraveling a tense revenge story
RW: What martial arts movies or games were you inspired by while making Sifu? We’re definitely getting vibes of The Raid with Sifu’s visceral combat!
PT: In terms of immersion into the fights and the impact of the hits, our references would be The Raid or John Wick, as for the action of one vs multiple enemies and the use of environments we were inspired by Jackie Chan movies among others, and we looked at classics like The Blade or Kill Bill for the revenge story vibe.
RW: Can you tell us more about the antagonists in the game? Why is the main character out for revenge?
PT: We aren’t saying too much about the narrative right now, but you’ll be meeting five bosses who you will discover a connection to as you search for answers as to why your family was murdered. You’ve been training your entire life for the day you set out to get your revenge, and the things you discover along the way are going to take the player through some major themes of self-discovery.
RW: What lessons did you learn from Absolver and how did you implement them into Sifu?
PT: We learned so much as a team from Absolver – definitely how to streamline development, optimize early on and implement good development habits from day one. Sifu is a little different though – it’s not an online game, so there’s no back end server infrastructure we need to implement or create, but Sifu is definitely a higher caliber of graphics and art and animation which take a lot of work, so having those good habits early on from lessons we learned with Absolver has been great.
RW: In this game, the protagonist grows older. Does this affect gameplay at all, in terms of the moves and abilities that he can perform?
PT: We can’t share too much about the in-game aging mechanics just yet – what we can say is that the main character doesn’t get weaker with age. But besides the gameplay itself, we see it as a metaphor for the path of a Kung Fu student. Kung Fu is never-ending self-improvement and training, it is a way of life more than a final state. These concepts of training, self-improvement, and perseverance are very important in Kung Fu, and we want the player to feel them through the gameplay experience.
RW: Why did you decide on Pak-Mei Kung-Fu for the game’s combat system? Did you bring on any experts to the project?
PT: We have several developers who study martial arts and our creative director has studied Pak Mei Kung Fu for a while, so we had some first-hand knowledge and experience of the discipline. We’ve also been working with Benjamin Colussi, the Sifu of the Pak Mei School in Paris, and we’ll be able to share more about our work with him in a feature coming soon.
RW: How will the game be optimized for the PS5? Will we see any DualSense integration like feeling the crunch of every hit?
PT: We’ve been investigating how to best integrate the PS5 key features into the game, and we should be able to do cool things with the new PS5 functionalities. More news soon!
RW: Can you give us a few examples of how you can use the environment to your advantage during battles?
PT: We are planning on sharing more information and features about the gameplay as we get closer to launch. The general idea is that you will have to approach fight situations in a tactical manner in order not to be overwhelmed by your opposition. That encompases careful positoning, the use of your enemies against each other as well as the environment itself, be it through throwable items, obstacles or makeshift weapons.
RW: How has Epic, Sony Interactive, and Kowloon Nights helped with the project? Have they helped with self-publishing Sifu?
PT: Our partners at Kowloon Nights, Epic Games and Sony all helped us make this project a reality, and support us for self-publishing. Self-publishing is certainly a challenge, but it was a good way for us to grow as a studio.
RW: How confident are you in that 2021 release window?
PT: We hope to release the game by the end of the year, but we have enough experience making games to know that unforeseen problems can come up – especially when everybody is working remotely due to the COVID-19 situation. In any case, the most important thing for us is to release a high quality game people will love!
Sifu is expected to release this year for the PS4, PS5, and PC (via Epic Games Store). Thank you for your time, Pierre Tarno.