The year's most underrated PS5 game just got even better — play it now!

Sifu screenshot
(Image credit: Slocap)

The first quarter of 2022 has offered some fantastic gaming experiences. While I’d wager the majority of PS5 owners have spent the last few weeks enjoying the likes of Horizon Forbidden West and Elden Ring, one title that never quite got its moment in the sun was Sifu

If you skipped Sifu when it launched in mid-February now is the perfect time to circle back and give the game a well-deserved chance. This is because the martial arts action game has an extra dose of appeal, thanks to a free update that adds two new difficulty levels. This patch makes the tough-as-nails game significantly more accessible — or ratchets up the brutal difficulty if you’re a glutton for punishment. 

Sifu Patch 1.009 rolled out on May 3 and adds both the Student and Master difficulty levels to the game. Student is essentially an easier (but still not easy) mode that makes enemies less aggressive, boosts your health and structure meters, offers strong Shrine upgrades and tones down the game’s punishing aging mechanic. 

Meanwhile, Master is a mode designed exclusively for players who are well versed with Sifu’s remarkably deep combat system already. Switch to Master mode and your health and structure meters are shortened, while enemies get more of both. Plus, enemies are more aggressive in general and bosses are given new attack patterns that are even harder to counter. Heed the warning of developer Sloclap though, as this mode is for martial arts experts only. 

If you’d rather the game’s original challenge then that's still available and has been renamed Disciple mode. So, in essence, Sifu now comes in three flavors: Student, Disciple and Master. With this tweak, the game is approachable from just about any skill level, but be warned even on the easiest mode the game isn’t afraid to put up a fight. 

Now there’s no excuse not to play Sifu

At launch, Sifu enjoyed mostly positive reviews — including a recommendation from our reviewer — but there was no denying the game’s extremely punishing difficulty made it a game that wasn’t suited to every player.

Sifu screen capture

(Image credit: Sloclap)

While a challenging game like Elden Ring can be overcome via a combination of brute force and perseverance, Sifu essentially demands players master its intricate combat system otherwise their progression would grind to a halt. Its roguelike elements also made the game a tough recommendation to more casual players as repeating the same levels over and over again was a virtual necessity. 

However, the new Student mode makes the game much more approachable for anyone whose senses aren’t quite as sharp. On the flip side, for anyone who found the game's original challenge lacking then Master mode kicks things up a notch and makes Sifu one of the most difficult PS5 games currently available. 

While so much of the discussion around Sifu has been focused on its difficulty, there’s plenty to like about the game beyond how hard it is to complete. The combat system is utterly absorbing from the very start — when you string together a chain of slick combos you feel like John Wick. Plus, the game’s painterly visual style is a constant treat and each level feels distinct taking you to a variety of unique locations from a seedy nightclub to a stylish museum. 

2022 has been a fantastic year for gaming already, and Sifu stands right alongside the best the year has to offer so far. It's understandable that its extreme difficulty turned a few players away. But thanks to this free update, now there’s no excuse not to give Sifu a shot. 

Still struggling to progress even on Student difficulty? Don't worry, we've got a list of Sifu tips that will help you overcome the game's many formidable foes. Just remember, it takes a whole lifetime to master kung fu. 

Rory Mellon
Entertainment Editor (UK)

Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team.