Sifu is a hard game. No one will dispute that fact. However, there are ways to make your time easier, even if just a tad. Having played the game ahead of release, I got the benefit of learning some tricks early on. I did so at the cost of my own face, so I hope you’re grateful. Here is our Sifu beginner’s guide with tips and tricks that should help you make the path to vengeance a little less difficult.
Note: I may update this guide with more tips over time.
Practice how to Avoid, rather than dodge
If you’re used to games like Dark Souls, your first instinct in Sifu is likely to try and dodge attacks. While the dodge, mapped to the right trigger on a controller, is good for getting away fast, it’s not optimal. In fact, for the most part, I mostly used the dodge while standing in place to avoid oncoming attacks. The dodge has its uses, but it can leave you momentarily vulnerable.
Instead, practice how to use the powerful Avoid. Among all my tips for Sifu, this one is the most important. Holding down the left bumper on a controller, you go into an avoid stance. Flicking the thumbstick at the right time allows you to completely avoid an enemy’s attack. Don’t hold the direction down, or you could get smacked — just flick the stick. In my experience, flicking the stick to the left, right, or down doesn’t matter; it’s all the same. Pressing up performs a slight hop to avoid sweeps. Timing is everything, hence the need to practice. You’ll need to watch for enemy patterns, as some, especially the second boss, like to go for the legs.
For the most part, Avoid is the most powerful move in your arsenal. It’s crucial in your fights with elite enemies and bosses. You should also unlock the ability to regain Structure while avoiding.
Use weapons to the best of their ability
Weapons are incredibly powerful in Sifu. However, you’re not maximizing their potential if all you’re doing is mashing buttons. Blunt single-handed weapons, such as bats and bamboo sticks, can sweep enemies off their feet. Holding down the strong attack will go for an enemy’s legs, so try and mix that into combos. Grounding an enemy takes the temporarily out of the fight as well, helping with crowd control. The bo staff can also sweep the legs. In my experience, you generally can knock an enemy down with a three-hit strong attack.
Throwing weapons is also one of the better tips I can offer for your Sifu run. Doing so with used weapons can often cause them to break. However, fresh weapons will bounce back. Practice tossing a weapon at a nearby enemy and catching it in mid-air. Not only does it do damage, but it looks cool and makes you feel like a badass.
Getting the Environmental Mastery skill is also a good choice. Doing so will allow you turn weapons into projectiles, which do damage and can stun enemies.
Focus on your Focus Attacks
Focus Attacks are among the most powerful moves you can pull off in Sifu. I suggest unlocking Strong Sweep Focus as early as possible. With it, you can knock any enemy off their feet including elites and most bosses. Like the charged weapon attack, knocking down an enemy helps with crowd control.
Be sure to put points into your Focus bar at the shrines you find throughout the game. My suggestion is to make sure you have at least two full bars of Focus energy before the third stage. You can also use the shrine to regain Focus faster.
Don’t worry about using Focus Attacks too often. Instead, unlock more bars and use them as much as you can. They recharge over time, and if you have more than one, you’ll be able to use them fairly often. Focus Attacks can give you an edge during most boss encounters, letting you dish out some quick damage.
Spend experience points as quickly as you can
Whatever you do in Sifu, do not hoard experience points like all those potions you tell yourself you need later. You can unlock skills on the courtyard tree in your headquarters, at the jade shrines, or in the death screen. Spend your points wisely, prioritizing permanent unlocks. Skills are good to have in your runs, but it’s far better to choose one and keep pumping points into it rather than starting over and losing it.
Keep note that the game does save your permanent unlock progress, so don’t panic if you have to restart. You still need to do an initial unlock for the skill, but after that you can continue adding XP to permanently unlock it.
Experience points can be used on more than just skills. At the shrine, you can spend experience points to buff your weapon damage, or even take your death counter back to zero. There is a caveat with resetting your death counter, however. It’s costly at 1,000 XP, so you better be sure it’s worth spending rather than starting the level over. Your pendant that resurrects you still sustains damage over time. Even if you reset your death counter, your untimely end may still be unavoidable.
Prioritize your targets, and create distance
One of the best tips I can offer for your first time in Sifu is: do not just jump into a crowd of enemies. While you may be a kung fu badass in the game, enemies aren’t exactly pushovers themselves. If you’re finding yourself overwhelmed, hold down the sprint button and relocate. While doing do, look for some weaker stragglers to take out quickly. And by that, I’m not referring to elite enemies. Don’t be silly.
Instead, seek out the fodder and take them out with due diligence. Some may go all anime and become elite enemies. That’s okay. Just move to the next and win by attrition. Once the easier enemies are dealt with, you can focus on tougher foes without worrying about some dingus clobbering you from behind.
Don’t wait for enemies to make the first move
Believe it or not, but you can take out certain enemies immediately at almost no danger to yourself. In levels like the club there are enemies who are relaxed and not aware of your presence. Running up to them and attacking can allow you to use a takedown move right away, letting you remove one enemy before the fight even begins.
Some enemies are actually aware of you, but will stand and exposit some bullshit you probably already heard a dozen times. Run up and shut them up. Let their arrogance give you some free damage right off the bat.
Replay older levels to to continue at a younger age
Resurrecting and aging is the crux of Sifu. Beating a level will save your age, experience points, and upgrades before the start of the next stage. For example, if you beat The Slums at age 36, you will begin The Club at that age. Even if you’re at the fourth level, going back to stage two starts you at 36. To beat the game properly, you should try and finish levels as young as possible.
Sifu does borrow from rogue-lites, which is a genre all about starting over. Whenever possible, go back and restart stages with your new, permanently unlocked skills and experience. Try and complete the first stage in your 20s, and stay under 30 before stage three. It’s challenging, but keeping young is incredibly important in beating the game. As far as tips go, this should be a no-brainer for most playing Sifu. However, I wouldn’t be surprised at some who want to brute force their way through all the stages. Best of luck.
Practice and use your default special attacks often
You start with two moves already available: Sweep and Palm Strike. Sweep is used by pressing up, then down, and finally strong attack. For Palm Strike, it’s up, down, then light attack. Both have their contextual uses, so don’t neglect them. Use the training room to get the timing right. Palm Strike is great at stunning foes, pushing them away or into walls. You can also use Palm Strike against some enemies with weapons, as the stun will knock the weapon out of their hand. Sweep, naturally, sweeps and enemy’s legs, dropping them to the floor. It doesn’t always work on elites, so I suggest using it on weaker enemies to get them out of the away.