When Sifu first launched back in February, its steep difficulty curve wasn't necessarily criticised, but it was enough to put a lot of potential players off. Indeed, even if you go take a look at our review — which dropped prior to release — the comments section is full of people questioning whether they'd be willing to put the time into what can be such a demanding game.
As we all know, the conversation that surrounds difficulty in video games erupts on a regular basis, usually sparked by the arrival of a particularly challenging title like Elden Ring. We're not here trying to add to that debate, but we do want to highlight just how good Sifu's latest update is. Patch 1.009 (released on the 3rd May 2022) adds two difficulty settings to the brawler: Student (easy) and Master (hard).
Some might argue that Sifu is selling itself short by including an easier difficulty level months after launch, but we think that developer SloClap has done a fantastic job of implementing something that makes the game more approachable on a fundamental level — without it actually damaging the title's ability to challenge the player.
Indeed, Sifu's Student mode is a fantastic way to learn the game. On its normal difficulty, Sifu is fair but very unforgiving. The title's aging mechanic means that multiple deaths in quick succession can propel you towards a game over very, very quickly. Roadblocks in the form of especially tricky encounters or boss battles can be a common occurrence, and there isn't much room for moment-to-moment adaptation. More often than not, you're all but forced to repeat the same levels over and over again until you've got the hang of things — that's just how Sifu is designed.
But Student mode dials back Sifu's unforgiving nature to a point where it feels like you can learn the nuances of its combat system without having to endure the repetition. For starters, the ageing mechanic is toned down significantly. Each death ages your character by one year — never anything more — and this alone is enough to make Sifu seem relatively welcoming. Combine that with a larger player health bar as well as less aggressive enemies, and it's now possible for newcomers to progress through at least a couple of Sifu's levels before the dreaded game over hits.
That's the thing, though: Student mode doesn't make Sifu a walk in the park. You still have to understand and utilise the game's systems if you want to find success; it's easier rather than easy. But if you bounced off Sifu following a brutal arse-kicking and simply never felt the urge to go back, this update shouldn't be ignored. It's just a great way to ease yourself into the experience.
And then there's Master mode, which, based on our time with it, is a borderline nightmare — in a good way, of course. If you're the kind of player who committed every boss combo to memory and you can pretty much breeze through Sifu without breaking a sweat, then Master mode has your name on it. While we don't think that it provides a massive boost in overall difficulty, its clever use of remixed enemy combos and relentless AI brings a whole new challenge to the table.
In a lot of ways, Master mode is going to make you relearn Sifu — and that's probably what a lot of hardcore players want. SloClap's effectively added a revamped campaign to its game — and for free, no less.
So there you have it: Sifu's difficulty update is really good, and just goes to show that with the right kind of implementation, hard games don't have to sacrifice their identity in order to broaden their appeal. Again, if Sifu didn't quite click with you, or if you were put off by all the talk of its difficulty, then this could be the moment to strike.
Have you given Sifu a go since this update? Remember to keep up your training in the comments section below.
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Nice, onto my wishlist this goes
Gave "Student" mode a go and I have do disagree. Maybe because I've already finished it before the patch - and have a decent grasp on the mechanics - but it's just too easy.
I get the implementation of a larger health pool and losing only one life at a time (which is an absolute blessing), but the issue I have is not just that opponents are less aggressive, but they lose half their movesets (especially bosses); this means you can't really learn their true patterns, and you get complacent and resort to button mashing.
I think the average player will breeze through the story in a couple hours on this mode, and rob themselves of the proper experience. To anyone starting out: please try it on standard first and if it's really, really not worth putting in time to learn, knock it down a peg and just smash through it
@JB_Whiting You've already beaten the game on the regular difficulty the easier difficulty is not for you.
Adding options to make the game less difficult is a matter of accessibility first and foremost. Yes some people just prefer an easier game or don't have the time to master a tough game so they benefit from things like this too (as does the studio who will get more sales). But there are people who are physically unable to do certain things many of us take from granted in games. It's not a case of getting good, practicing or even grinding levels, they physically cannot do certain things. Easier difficulties are not the sole solution, but they are able to alleviate a lot of the issues for many.
I love it when games respect their players.
@Ogbert A fair point, I didn't think about it as an accessibility option; I think I was looking at it as someone who's been putting it off due to its difficulty, they then pick it up and is disappointed that the game is so short.
Like, learning the game (albeit I'm no expert) and beating it I felt immense satisfaction and almost euphoria (y'know, when you shout and punch the air) a feeling you can't replicate on easy mode. But I understand different people have different levels of experience with games! My bad.
@JB_Whiting For the people that bounced off it so easily, they will probably still have difficulty with the easy mode, just not as much.
I've seen people that are bad at this game play, like REALLY bad. Like not being able to press square and triangle bad. lol
@JB_Whiting I think the fact that you've already beaten Sifu automatically makes Student mode super easy. You've got to think about players who are potentially completely new — they still have to learn fundamental mechanics like the dodge, and the timing that parries require. I think Student gets the balance right in that you can still get beaten up quite easily if you're unfamiliar with the game.
I get where you're coming from, though. When I tried Student (having beaten Sifu for review) my immediate thought was that it was really, really easy. But I was obviously overlooking the fact that I already know enemy patterns, timing, and combos. Easy to forget that it's a hard game, especially at first!
As long as the developer doesn't feel pressured to put in an easy mode I have zero issue. Have fun new players it's a great game! It's when when people feel the need to pressure a dev to make a game easier or harder to meet their needs that I take issue.
This is coming from someone who has played everything from Kirby to Elden Ring. Let the devs make the game they wish to make is all I wish for in the end.
I’ve got the double platinum (PS4/PS5) and whilst it is a hard game it’s not unfair. You just have to put the time in to learn the mechanics and boss patterns which imo makes the game as amazing as it is. I don’t know if they’ve changed it but I don’t think the platinum should be achievable on easy mode.
@JB_Whiting Perhaps they need a Custom Difficulty setting to go along with the presets:
Some games even let you adjust this mid-game so you can get over a particular blocker and then adjust back.
Normal difficulty was a bit too unforgiving for me. Only ever made it past the very first level. Easy does feel a tad too easy but not a cakewalk for sure.
What I would have loved is a normal mode with the option to only lose one year with each death. That might have been perfect for me. Still very hard but more doable with the additional “continues”.
@badbob001 that's the ideal for sure, I use these in games like Horizon and Fallen Order to make sure that even if I struggle with, say, getting the timing on stuff just right, I'm still going up against the full moveset of enemies, still having to overcome everything, just with slightly more forgiving timing/health/whatever option it gives me on that front
@badbob001 That would actually be a fantastic option; the only preset I HATE in the original is loss of lives stacking; I'd say that's an actual unfair thing they put in there.
@ShogunRok True. I wasn't disagreeing with the article as a whole, just the mention of the new easy mode still not being a walk in the park
Saying that, it does mean that I can grab a couple of these pesky trophies - such as the talismans - with a little less frustration!
@JB_Whiting Hey, that's a good point!
Well its now back on my list so hopefully that’s what the dev was after - not me personally of course 🤣🤣
I’m not great at the whole hardcore gaming thing so just knowing that I have the easier option if needed works great for me.
Kudos for supporting this game FOC in making it better for less skilled players
I love difficulty options. There are plenty of games out there that I’d love to play and experience their world and story, but they’re just too hard for me. I’m getting too old to get angry/frustrated at games 👴🏻 I just want to have fun and be immersed in cool and exciting worlds.
Sounds like they did this right. Added a difficulty option without sacrificing their vision. Kudos SloClap!
More options is always welcome. My copy came in the mail yesterday (Vengeance Edition) with some nice goodies, including an art book and a steelbook case. I'll definitely stick with the standard difficulty for my first play through. Looking forward to it after I finish Tales of Arise...
This is silly. Im glad fromsoftware is not a company that gives into complaints like this.
I don’t understand, if its too hard or you cant handle it just go play a different game. Why do these people have to get their fingers in everything and ruin stuff for people who like the difficulty?
Its been so fun and engaging seeing all the community engagement, discoveries and discussions the difficulty in elden ring has created. Thats all taken away when you do things like this.
Some things aren’t made for everyone. And thats very ok.
Disappointed by them backing down on their vision for money.
Won't be purchasing this game personally.
@Gelly More people need to hear this. Everything doesn't have to be made for you, and that's OK
@Gelly so you'd like the game to exclude potential new players just because the game as standard is too hard for them?
Even when the new difficulty level doesn't impact in any way on your own experience or that of players who want to play at the original difficulty?
You represent gatekeeping at its worst.
Ive explained how it affects discussion about the game as a whole, even if it doesn’t affect me. Just the mentality that you can drop down a level if things get too hard and not find ways to overcome an obstacle kills the vibe entirely, yes. That is exactly why fromsoftware avoids this.
And yea, if it excludes people but you stick to your grounds of creativity, that is a sacrifice. When you do everything that people want just because some people might be excluded u kill all creativity, it leaves people doing the same thing over and over again because you dont want to “exclude people”. Im sure you are one of the people that complain that “ubisoft does the same thing every time”, you know why ? because they are trying not to exclude people.
Look at the success of Elden Ring after all these years of fromsoftware sticking to their guns. are they not “excluding people” according to you ? that game is much harder than this one.
Here's looking at you Returnal. Check...points please.
I got the Platinum for this game...and I think Master mode is too much. But the option is great for people that want it.
I'm looking forward to future updates.
Big respect for the conversation between @JB_Whiting and @Ogbert in the first few comments up there. Such civility and understanding is rare to find online nowadays, so I just wanted to thank you both. Made me smile.
Difficulty selection in a game like this makes a lot of sense. I’m still very excited to get to this one.
Nice, I'll be playing the student mode tomorrow.
I believe that unless you beat it on hard, you aren't getting the "true" experience. Now have at it lads.
It’s nice that they added difficulty options. If I get this game I’ll probably try out the normal mode first.
@Gelly maybe if they've added a difficulty setting you didn't want, the game isn't for you. And that's okay.
@zupertramp ahahaha, not nearly the same and a very shallow way of looking at life, but good on you for being clever tho. Very funny and lots of people will probably agree with u.
Im just very proud of companies like fromsoftware, Remedy, and a few others that just stick to their visions. good on them man. its a creative industry, not a “ do everything the internet says industry”. They are not slaves. And should be free to do what they want to do.
@DTfeartheBEARD Can I ask a super quick question about that Vengeance Edition you mentioned, buddy? Is the steelbook case instead of, or as well as, a regular plastic case?
I’ve been thinking about buying the physical for Sifu, but as all my other PS5 games are in regular cases, I’d rather not have an odd one out. Though, regardless of your answer, I’ll probably get it in any case (pun definitely intended).
Thanks in advance! 😊
@Gelly I'm sure if they thought it was important they wouldn't have changed it, shouldn't you respect their creative vision?
Thats not how it works buddy. Its a business. which a lot of gamers, insanely, do not understand. I work in ux/ui. and its a simple thought process for the head of the business, if theres more money to be made, we go with that.
And in this case, there r a lot of ppl like u complaining, so they change, even tho the initial creative was not to have that.
Do you think they r just dumb or something and though t that having difficulty levels initially wouldnt open up the appeal ? of course they thought that. But they had a vision, which they abandoned to make you happy. Which is sad because, im sure you wont be supporting them in the future.
@The_Pixel_King It comes with the Steelbook case only, and a slipcover to hold the steelbook and art book together. It will definitely stand out lined up on a shelf with regular PS5 game cases...
@Gelly You confuse me, their original vision is still a part of the game, you can still play it on that difficulty mode. Over the months the developer's vision has changed and they have added much needed accessibility options, why do you feel the need to berate them for it when, as it stands, this version of Sifu is now the best version of Sifu?
So glad I got the plat the normal way
@Cherip-the-Ripper Im not berating anyone for anything. Im stating my thoughts even though you dont agree. Its funny u say “berate” as if thats not what other people were doing when they didnt get what they want though? thats super funny to me. the game has literally become something different because u berated them and then u tell me im berating for stating an opinion after they were berated by you. I find that funny and oblivious. but thats how most of the gaming community is now a days unfortunately so not surprising.
Anyway, my point is, the difficulty options kills player creativity and discussion because when you cant win you just turn down the difficulty. An example for you, is the way Elden Ring does it. no matter how much you whine, they arent giving anyone difficulty options. And you can see the amazing discussions, community togetherness, and output that game has developed over the months. we all try and figure it iut together. which is amazing, stuff we havent seen in gaming for a very long time. and its cool when people create that. What you want to do is stop that from happening. And if u dont care about that, thats fine. But Id prefer you just play another game that makes you happy, instead of coming over into other territories that you literally dont even like because difficulty is not your thing, and changing everything about it. because there are communities out there that like trying to figure these things out together. And you ruin it for us. Ratchet and clank is readily available and very easy, why do you have to come over to the games we like and demand that everything is changed about it ? I really do not get it man.
@Gelly you misinterpret my intentions. I don't have a ps console, don't have access to this game and never asked for other difficulty options. I am however for the change. Besides not everything about a game fundamentally needs to be changed, only took a short while for the Sifu devs to realize that before they added the accessibility options. I hope you will as well someday.
And about Elden Ring, I have played it. Bought it at launch, beat it after 100+ hours and was very satisfied. I thought it was too easy actually, very easy to overlevel and I don't replay games so if anything giving me the option to change that mid-game would've been cool. Now this can get changed by fromsoft working on difficulty options, maybe even a more detailed set of presets as mentioned by @badbob001. Or is a game being too easy something you're against as well?
@Gelly if you actually worked in UX then you'd understand the importance of making things more accessible, not more exclusive because it's more "creative".
They added difficulty options because it's their vision for the game. From software doesn't because that's their vision. Neither company is basing these decisions on people complaining online about the game being too hard or it's only good because it's hard.
If you mash the buttons like a braindead chicken and talk about how some people are disabled, just stfu. Their disabilities, not your..
Awesome news. I may actually be able to attempt the Platinum now!
I mean, you’ve responded to none of my points, so it seems you dont really understand what i am saying.
fromsoftware will not change their choices. theyve said it openly. and theyve had many a success. you clearly just do not understand the idea of building a mentality and energy. many people complained about fromsoftware adding difficulty options. they ignored you. Now that people have actually taken the time to understand what they are going for, which is end gratification that obviously is not something that drives you, many ppl have taken the time to understand that idea. its art. that is literally the point of art. its not to satisfy everything you want or everything “you support”. its understanding and attempting to understand the idea of someone else. its not about you.
and if you do not like it, you just play another game. I dont get why that is such a big deal. why must you demand that companies do what you want. Its not that “sloclap figured out that they need more accessiblity options”, its that head honchos realized they would make more money satisfying the people that complained.
im glad there are a few companies that still want to express themselves and their teams now a days that still want to express themselves, and not just satisfy you for money.
@Gelly I think theres a difference between Elden Ring and Sifu in this case.
Sifu is a £33 game with 5 levels, where less than half of players have beaten the second boss, Sean.
Elden Ring is a £60 game sure, but its 160 hours long. In spite of this, the closest trophy I can see to Sean's 44% success rate in Elden Ring is Godfrey the First Lord at 46%, a boss thats well over 40 hours into the game.
I'm not saying that this means Elden Ring is easy, I'm just saying that it affords more opportunity to enjoy the game you've paid for, even if you don't have the skill to beat Malenia Blade of Miquella.
In Sifu, over half of players were gated behind the 2nd level, an hour in, and cant play the majority of the game.
@Gelly they had a vision which will have been heavily compromised to get the game out of the door within a reasonable timeframe. If difficulty levels weren't a cut feature then I doubt it would have been coded in a way that allowed them to be added so quickly.
I have worked in games too, as a Developer, a Tools Programmer, an SDET, and originally as a QA tester. I've been in many types of meetings with pretty much all the stakeholders at some point and I've seen how things work.
The features released this close to the initial release are almost certainly things that were supposed to be part of the game, but had to be cut because there wasn't enough time to fully balance and test everything.
@Gunnerzaurus You not buying the game when it's "made for you" is probably why they've made the game more accessible for the people "it's not made for".
@Gelly Counterpoint: Having an easy mode does not stop this game having harder difficulties, and therefore, is still for you. And arguing that certain games aren't for certain people, is like arguing that games don't need subtitles because those games just aren't for the hearing impaired.
Having difficulty options, like having subtitles, or colorblind options, changes the way a game can be experienced, to be more enjoyable for those that need those options, but does not stop others from taking those off and experiencing the game the "way it was intended".
It's a dropped curb. You and me may have zero problems with stepping up a raised curb, and have no need for dropped curbs, but the disabled, prams, elderly, kids, cars, cyclists, or whatever, benefit from their existence.
So let's not gatekeep experiences under the guise of "purity".
I'm happy it got more settings, harder difficulty for those who were there day one and for people who might find the game too hard.
And for people who say they shouldn't add it. No dev has too put any difficulty settings of any nature if they don't want to,
If they want such and such to only be played by who fine, but if they put an easy mode in the game, that was there choice, they wanted more people to play there game, no one is forcing them too.
I got it just the other day and Oh boy did it kick my ass, but I got to the final boss, and I'm on my way to the other endings, its everything I wanted in a game like this really, I love kung fu, rougelikes, mash them together and what do you got? One of my favorite games on this year.
The easy mode sounds wonderful as the player still needs to learn how to play the game.
I always cite Viewtiful Joe as a terrible example of difficulty modes where the main mode I found too hard but the kids mode almost patronising.
@RadioHedgeFund It's true, I've played a lot of games over the years where the difference between easy and normal is gigantic. People definitely underestimate how hard it is to correctly balance difficulty settings.
@Husker Absolutely agree. Same sentiment that I was going to post.
Finally i beat the game with the new difficulty couldn’t beat it without it
I wanted a more difficult mode like one hit and your dead and have to go back to the beginning of the game I might have a go now as it has a easier mode (saying that I always play my games on normal difficulty. I can't be arsed with dying and dying again nowadays it just wastes my precious gaming time really)
Comparing it to subtitles for hearing impaired is not the same dude lmao. That is a disability. That is no where near the same.
But i wont go on because its not like i will be changing your mind.
You are free to believe whatever you want though of course, and so am I. And there will be companies that will do what you believe, and there will be companies that believe that the core of the game is its difficulty and stick to that. I just wish people like you wouldnt cross over to game styles you dont like and condemn the company and demand change because its not made according to how you want it.
@Richnj Let's not confuse "difficulty levels" with "handicap accessibility"
It's a tired and disingenuous argument that always gets made when nobody wants to discuss what's actually being debated.
You being bad at a game is not a disability, and nobody is arguing against greater help and accessibility options to those with disabilities.
@Gelly "I just wish people like you wouldnt cross over to game styles you dont like"
Liking something and being good at something are not the same thing.
"Comparing it to subtitles for hearing impaired is not the same dude lmao. That is a disability."
Yeah, and you are conveniently ignoring what I said about the dropped curb. Easier difficulties help disabled people. Maybe like Adhd, or learning disabilities, or anything that effects reflexes. In both instances you are excluding disabled people.
"there will be companies that believe that the core of the game is its difficulty and stick to that."
But this is how we know you don't really care about a Dev's vision, and actually only care about your gatekeeping, because this Dev expanded their game and you aren't defending them making the game they want, you are upset that this thing you thought was yours, is no longer exclusively for you.
@Gunnerzaurus It's funny you'd say I'm making a disingenuous argument while also saying this "You being bad at a game is not a disability". Re-read my post and my above post for how you are wrong about my arguments.
What are you talking about ? How do i l”not really care about the devs vision” because i said people would stick with their vision ?
No, i do not agree with you that making changes to something is a developers vision. Its a business, and things change as the business grows. You assuming that a change being made is always the devs vision is just silly and oblivious of what a business is.
If you saying easier difficulties are made for disabled people then fine. But instead if attacking me you should be attacking from software and every company that avoids doing that because they feel that that is the integrity of their game, not me. You should be attacking every game that lacks accessibility options. There r so many indie games that you need to be attacking right now. Every rougelike, an entire genre based on difficulty. If you really are going to say and use something like that to make me feel bad about wanting creators to just create what they want, then go out and fight for it somewhere that will actually make a difference instead of trying to put me down.
You have a lot of work to do.
@Richnj You're equating difficulty to disability.
I've re-read your comment, you are definitely doing so.
Being bad at a video game is not equal to being blind or hard of hearing and needing accessibility options to help you literally play the game.
So again, being bad at a video game or not willing to put in the time to acquire the skills necessary isn't a disability.
@Gunnerzaurus difficulty levels area blunt tool that allows some games to be more accessible to people with some disabilities. That much is a fact. They're not enough for everyone, they're not needed by everyone, but they do help a lot of people.
I am disabled. I also run a Discord server for other disabled people. @Richnj's points are perfectly in line with points a number of my server's members have made. It's not too late to admit you're wrong.
They're are a lot of different ways that the human experience varies, and point I've made myself is that if your aim as a developer is to provide your players with a certain level of challenge, you absolutely cannot do that without tailoring each player's session to how they experience the world, because each player has their own level of skill and their own level of impairment, and so their perception of difficulty will be different when presented with the same stimulus requiring the same inputs. Otherwise you're not making it hard enough for some, and you're making it far too easy for others. As mentioned elsewhere, finer grained control of difficulty such as that in Fallen Order and Forbidden West give the best player experience, but obviously having 3 set levels is less work for the studio.
The high difficulty was one of the primary reasons I skipped this one. Maybe ill pick it up now.
@RogerRoger haha aww that's sweet. Maybe I'm getting softer in my old age but I throw my hands up when I'm stand corrected! Unlike some people in this thread....
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