Sifu garnered renown upon its release because of its dedication to being intense and tough. Compare it to Dark Souls if you want, but the game demonstrated the intensity of the quest its main character is on by making every enemy a real threat until players learn to master their kung fu moves and the game’s unique aging mechanic. Over time though, developer Sloclap has made Sifu more and more approachable, even with more difficulty settings, while still retaining its vision for the game.
“Our intent was never to make a difficult game for the sake of it; it answers our intentions,” game designer Theo Caselli tells Digital Trends. “We wanted a game that echoes the kung fu ethos of mastery via practice, and we wanted to put weight into the fight with a realistic approach. Fighting someone should be risky, stressful, hard, and feel like a single mistake could be the end. But we also understood that some people do not have the time or do not fancy this mentality, but still wanted to have the action movie experience nevertheless.”
To make progress on that approachability front, Sifu’s spring update introduced an easy mode. Now, the newly announced summer update adds a plethora of gameplay modifiers. While some of these modifiers make the game more challenging by removing moves or buffing enemies, others, like infinite health, can make Sifu much easier for first-time players intimidated by the challenge. Mix in the update’s brand new scoring system and outfits, and it looks like the best time to play Sifu since launch will be after the August 31 update.
“The easy mode was really intended for players just wanting to enjoy the ambiance, the environments, and the story with cool fight scenes,” Caselli continued. “At the other end of the spectrum, we also wanted to give the most skilled players an even greater challenge and introduce a harder difficulty. The same philosophy guided our choice on the upcoming summer update. Make the game more tweakable, to make it more accessible, or more challenging, or even a little bit of both at the same time, both cheats and modifiers.”
Some gameplay modifiers that will make Sifu a lot easier include Bullet Time, infinite health, and unbreakable weapons. Of course, players who like how difficult Sifu can be can also ramp up the challenge by making enemies faster, removing moves like blocking, or giving themselves a single hit point. Meanwhile, the scoring system entices players to defeat groups of enemies uninterrupted for the maximum point reward.
Truly skilled players can also show off with a brand new outfit called Master Hand, which gives players a hat that will fall off if they are hit even once. If you want to beat Sifu with a hat on, you’ll need to be really good. Players who do want to get all of Sifu’s trophies will also have to avoid modifiers that make the game easier. Felix Garczynski, Sloclap marketing manager, confirmed to Digital Trends that gameplay modifiers that make the game easier will disable trophies. Slocloap also believes gameplay modifiers have a place in helping players who want to improve. To get better at Sifu, Garczynski recommends disabling blocking, though maybe you can still turn on zero gravity and have some fun.
“Blocking is never a good option in the game,” Garczynski says. “You can use it while you try to learn the combat system, but are more rewarded if you manage to parry at the right time or evade the blow. I think disabling it is a good way to make sure you are actually learning and not reverting to the easy option. And if I wanted to choose one just for fun, I think the low-gravity option is really cool because you have all the pieces and items you’ve broken in the environment and enemies floating around and create some really poetic scenes.”
What’s next for Sifu
Now that players of all skill levels can play Sifu, Sloclap is making further improvements to gain new players and retain them for longer. “We felt that the storyline of Sifu was complete and that it wouldn’t feel right to add more narrative content, but we also wanted to answer our players’ wishes,” Garczynski explained. “We added different features … that will allow players to play for quite a few more hours and get even better at the game.”
This mindset extends to Sifu’s winter update, which Sloclap also detailed in a presentation attended by Digital Trends. It will add 1o new arenas for players to fight enemies in and new game modes like “Survive” and “Eliminate Specific Targets,” where players can earn in-game currency to buy modifiers, cheats, new arenas, and new challenges. Sloclap also confirmed that Sifu is coming to more platforms, so Xbox and Nintendo Switch players may finally have a chance to try the game out soon.
Currently, Sifu is still only available on PC via Epic Games Store, PS4, and PS5. The summer update drops across all platforms on August 31.