Developer Sloclap has confirmed that its acclaimed martial arts action game Sifu will be getting Cantonese voice over added in its next update.
Back in December, the developer announced the game would be getting a new Arenas mode, which would be included with the Steam and Xbox console versions releasing in March 2023, as well as a free update for PC via the Epic Games Store, PlayStation at the same time.
A trailer for the update didn't provide specific details on what the new content would entail, but a new trailer confirms that this update will include a Cantonese dub in addition to the existing English and Mandarin voice overs.
Hong Kong Kung-fu movies from the 70s & 80s have inspired Sifu, and no doubt a few keen eyes have spotted the numerous references in the game. The Cantonese voiceover is a way to celebrate these movies and make Sifu a more immersive experience for players who are fond of them! pic.twitter.com/RxoHtrQglP— SifuGame (@SifuGame) January 24, 2023
News of a Cantonese voice over for Sifu is a long time coming for both Cantonese speaking players and fans of Hong Kong martial arts movies. Sloclap had actually contacted Eurogamer of this news after our feature on The Cantonese language (or the lack of it) in games. Sloclap co-founder and producer Pierre Tarno was also able to provide some clarification over why it had taken so long for a Cantonese dub to be added, despite the title Sifu being based on the Cantonese pronunciation.
"We chose Sifu as a title because the rationale was mostly that it was shorter and probably easier to pronounce than Shifu (the Mandarin pronunciation), and because as a homage to kung fu and Hong Kong cinema," he explains. "Why not include the Cantonese VO at launch then? The simple answer is that as an indie studio, we didn't have the bandwidth/resources to do this at launch."
Sifu did receive a post-launch patch with Chinese voiceover but this was just for Mandarin, with the reason being to appeal to the larger market in China. "Once we saw that Sifu was a success, we decided that it would be great to record and release a full Cantonese VO for the game."
Tarno also wanted to address some of the criticisms regarding the Orientalist depiction of Chinese culture in the game, noting that while there is a concept artist on the team of Taiwanese descent, the studio was conscious of making an effort to make an authentic and respectful game.
"We did extensive cultural reviews with the help of our Chinese partners at Kowloon Nights, who are based in Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai," he explains. "These reviews were done by specialized consultants in China who gave us lots of feedback, which generated significant changes in the game, from the main character's visual design to writing and details of the environments."
"The problem is that since the game is a homage to martial arts action classics, it does build on tropes that can feel cliché, and which can give traction to the "Orientalism" criticism, but we did try our best to play with these tropes in order to create an original take on the genre. Cultural and representation issues are valid concerns, which are important to us, and we gave our best efforts to be respectful of the source material and of the culture it's coming from - within the constraints of an indie studio with limited hiring capacities and budget."
An exact date for this new update is still to be confirmed but the developer promises more deep dives on upcoming Sifu content will be revealed very soon.
Since release, Sifu has also received a number of updates, including a new scoring system and difficulty modes. The most recent autumn update added a replay editor, as well as more modifiers, cheats, and outfits.
For those who can't enough, Sifu is also getting a movie adaptation with a screenplay by John Wick writer Derek Kolstad, which will reportedly stick to the game's revenge plot and bizarre aging twist.
Update: Sloclap has advised that the Cantonese dub might not be ready for release until April or May.