Sifu was one of the more interesting games we covered. The initial experience was rough, but beyond the issues was a deep brawler that really challenged and forced players to learn the mechanics. Since we last looked at it, Sloclap added new difficulty options, a variety of modifiers, and most recently, Arenas. While free trophy/achievements are always enticing, it can be hard to return to a game as precise as Sifu. With this in mind, we returned to the rough setting to see if Arenas are worth exploring, or should be ignored.
As the name suggests, Arenas are short stages centered around a variety of different tasks. Each build on some aspect of the core experience, like speed, score, age (deaths). While this is the core idea, how one approaches each conflict will vary.
In addition to various win and rank conditions, Arenas feature a wide variety of modifiers. Some give you more attacks, others push specific play styles like deflect, to even positive perks like infinite health. This makes them fun, as each stage needs to be approached differently. Especially on stages where you can’t grab weapons, or have more annoying enemies.
While the core gameplay loop is fun, plus at least another six sets of stages are planned for the future, how much value you find in the mode will also vary. This isn’t quite a tutorial mode that gets progressively more difficult, as much as a mode intended for experienced players to try their hand at something different. It will be appreciated by those who love the gameplay loop, but found the original stages a bit stale.
A lot of the modifiers are what you make of them. For example, score stages tend to have infinite health modifiers. Given score is based off performance, having infinite or finite health are largely the same. Stages also have relatively definitive end points.
Beyond the core requirements of a stage, there are optional objectives that give higher ranks. These are a cool bonus, as players are rewarded for going above and beyond, though it also limits replay value. For example, survival stages allow you a set number of hits, over relying on just staying alive. However, once you can beat it without taking a hit, which is beyond the requirement to unlock all the points and get gold, there isn’t a formal thing to chase.
While these little things are unfortunate, it’s still nice to see such variety in these stages. Even if their replay value is finite, each challenge is crafted with a specific set of conditions in mind. Take A Grand Master, which is the first score stage. Instead of starting at the minimum age of 20, you need to beat it at age 40. Since you don’t have to worry about the life downsides, it will be harder to rebuild score, but easier to manage foes.
These little things add enough to the experience that absolutely makes it worth checking Sifu out a second time. Or, if you didn’t give it a go yet, they’re the perfect way to get ready for higher difficulties, to even putting your skills to use. They’re just a fun way to further hone your skills, along with giving players new conditions to overcome. And, if nothing else, prompt you to work on specific skills to come out ahead.