Sifu combines martial arts and revenge in new release, coming to Xbox March 28. (Photo courtesy of Sloclap)
By Sean Penn*
A game of mastery, skill and death. Sifu is one of the most creative and difficult games I have played to date.
In Sifu, players take on the role of a Kung Fu master on a quest to take revenge on a group of martial artists who murdered his master, or in Cantonese, his Sifu. Players travel through Chinese locales beating up street thugs and ruffians with their bare hands. The gameplay delivers the adrenaline rush of a true street fight all the while crushing players with defeat.
In Sifu, every time players die they are brought back to life by a pendant. But after being revived, their age is increased. This is a double-edged sword. With age comes mastery and power, but the body becomes more frail. Think of the Glass Cannon style of characters. However, players don’t just age year by year, they age by the number of times they have died. When players die for the first time, their death counter will be one, and their age will be raised from 20 to 21. When they die a second time, their counter will be two, and their age will be raised from 21 to 23 and so on.
This game is so fresh in a market of clones and reskins, that I absolutely adore it. But some may dislike and even abhor this system.
Sifu is extraordinarily difficult and can be infuriating at times. One wrong move can lead to an early death or even having to restart a level. The biggest hurdle in the game is when level is completed, players start the next level at the age they were upon completion of the previous level. If the first level takes players until age 70 to beat, they will start level two at age 70. This mechanic makes going back and beating older levels at a younger age a necessity rather than a choice.
There are some redeeming factors about the system mechanics. As players choose abilities from the skill tree, they have the chance to buy them multiple times to unlock them forever. This is incredibly useful so players can spend their experience points on better skills in more difficult fights later on.
As a Kung Fu master, players kick and punch their way through almost endless waves of unique enemies and manipulate the environment to their advantage by throwing bottles, chairs and tables at enemies. Over the course of the game, players will pick up a variety of weapons, such as bo staffs, swords, pipes and bats and create chain combos to utterly destroy opponents. It truly begins to feel like a true ‘80s action movie hero.
Sifu is one game that can and will likely be polarizing. Its difficulty will turn many people away and make them hate it, but the fluid and intense combat will draw many different fans from various genres of games. Action, fighting, Rogue-like and Souls-like fans will all be attracted to Sifu.
If the normal or master modes are too difficult, switch to easy. On my first playthrough, I was 50% through the game when I faced a particularly difficult boss, and I could not beat it. So, I switched to easy, and I thoroughly enjoyed the gameplay experience.
Whatever you do, please pick up a copy of Sifu and try it for yourself. Sifu is currently available on Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Nintendo Switch and PC. It will be released on Xbox March 28.
*writes under pseudonym
By Nate Fox and Faith Taylor
Sports Editor and Staff Writer
“Sometimes, life is very hard,” Emily Henry wrote. “Sometimes, it demands so much of you that you start losing pieces of yourself as you stretch out to give what the world wants to take.”
“Beach Read” by Emily Henry was published in 2020 and rose to popularity when TikTok started the #booktok trend.
A contemporary romance set in lakeside North Bear Shores, Michigan, January Andrews is a romance author experiencing writer’s block. Her writing career has always been about writing love stories, that is, until her breakup with her boyfriend, Jacques. Ultimately forced to move into her recently deceased father’s lakeside home, she finds it inhabited... by her father’s mistress.
The knowledge of her father’s affair leaves her with a confused outlook on love. Without many options, she moves into the inherited home. Later she finds out her new neighbor is her college rival, Augustus ‘Gus’ Everett.
Gus is also a writer, but he writes dark fiction: the types of stories that rarely contain positive conclusions. Oddly enough, Gus is struggling with writer’s block, as well. They ultimately make a deal to swap literary genres and start spending time together as a result. January takes Gus on dates, teaching him the fine details of romance. Conversely, Gus exposes January to experiences which elicit strong emotional responses.
They are both pushed out of their comfort zones.
During one such experience, Gus takes January to meet a woman whose daughter died while in a cult. The experience with this poor woman’s mother leads to a cathartic response felt by both protagonists. Throughout this experience, Gus and January become incredibly vulnerable with one another. They begin learning and revealing more and more intimate knowledge about each other.
This book strikes a successful balance between titillating romance and impressive character development. Gus and January form a deep, meaningful relationship and begin freely communicating with one another. Their differences begin to draw them together, not push them apart.
Often, romance novels can either come across as too cheesy or underwhelming. That is not the case with “Beach Read.” On the contrary, this book achieves an impressive literary balance, while remaining engaging and avoiding common romance novel cliches.
With a strong theme of self discovery, this book brings to mind the popular adage, “Know thyself.” Emotional explorations of the self allow individuals to be fully known and fully loved, leading to an intense romance.
Going into this, I was skeptical. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I found myself unable to put this book down. The TikTok hype was not unwarranted. Check out “Beach Read” today, you won’t regret it.
Lil’ Gator walks across a telephone wire to reach new heights. (Courtesy of Playtonic Games)
By Sean Penn*
Come one, come all, and enjoy one of the best games of 2022—“Lil’ Gator Game.”
An action-adventure game made for Nintendo Switch and PC, “Lil’ Gator Game” takes place on a beautiful island full of bright colors. In this happy environment, you complete a variety of fun missions. These can range from defeating little cardboard monsters to having to appear in court (oddly enough). There are no end-of-the-world stakes or intense storylines, just a peaceful and relaxing gaming experience.
At heart, this is a child-friendly “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild,” but instead of fighting monsters, you are fighting cardboard cutouts. Instead of trying to take down bosses, you make friends. This was an amazing change of pace for me. College is a high-stress environment, and games can be too. With this game, it is all about just sitting back and enjoying the ride without the fear of dying or losing your progress.
“Lil’ Gator Game” is all about connection and the bonds we make with our family and friends. A young alligator boy, Lil’ Gator, is fond of the memories he shares with his older sister, but she is now in college and no longer has time to hang out with her younger brother.
Therefore, he embarks on a journey to convince her to spend time with him.
The story really is the heart of this game. I highly recommend this game for anyone who misses home.
As a college student, this resonates deeply with me. It reminds me of my younger brother and how he said he could not wait for me to get done with school so I could hang out with him all day long. These themes coupled with the gorgeous design and breathtaking music make it an instant classic.
“Lil’ Gator Game” costs $20, and basic storyline completion takes about 3.5 hours, putting it squarely on the shorter end of the gaming spectrum.
Personally, I enjoy quicker games, but there are many players out there who want their games to be 50 hours long, especially if they pay that much for it. If this is a problem for you, I would recommend holding out for a sale. Most games on Steam and Switch go on sale quite frequently.
As the spring semester kicks off, the stress and anxiety that comes with new classes (and a new year for that matter) is nothing new. I highly recommend it for anyone who would like a break from the high stress, or intense worlds, that gaming can bring. Take a break from the average grind of gaming and go pick up a copy of “Lil’ Gator Game.”
As Tom, one of Lil’ Gator’s friends, says, “Courage be with you, my most radical pal! Go forth and collect the hearts of the world!”
*writes under pseudonym