Sifu Arenas is the first free expansion to the hit 2022 game developed by SloClap. The expansion pack is free to all players and releases alongside the Xbox and PC versions of Sifu. Sifu Arenas feels long overdue, with the campaign having been the only way to enjoy the excellent combat that Sifu has to offer until now. The expansion brings in five new game modes, 45 new challenges, nine new locations, and eight new achievements for players to dive into. Endless combat and unique challenges bring a new layer of replayability to Sifu that wasn’t there previously.
Sifu Arenas, which can be played after only completing the tutorial, presents players with nine unlockable levels of challenges that contain five different challenges each. Each challenge has three score levels, and each new unlockable set of challenges has a certain amount of score points needed to unlock. It’s a fairly simple setup, which makes it approachable for players to hop right in.
The first and most recognizable game mode is survival mode. Survival mode pits the player against waves of enemies that get more challenging as they progress. The goal is to clear as many waves as possible with as few deaths as possible. Death in Sifu ages the character, so the goal is to complete Survival mode without getting older. It’s a fairly typical survival mode and doesn’t do anything to revolutionize the mode, but revolution isn’t necessary. It felt very tight and fluid and really easy to get a hang of, even if the battles themselves were quite challenging.
The second more recognizable mode is the time attack mode. Players are given a set amount of time to defeat every enemy, with higher scores achieved by defeating foes as quickly as possible. This mode had me constantly trying new combos and approaches to combat, which can get hectic when you are surrounded by enemies. Time attack mode gives the combat a chance to shine while keeping players on their toes.
Capture mode in Sifu Arenas is essentially king-of-the-hill, with players needing to stay on a capture point while under a barrage of attacks. The onslaught of enemies becomes harder to defeat when you need to stay in a smaller area, limiting the amount of movement I was able to make. It made me think differently about how I was approaching larger-scale combat.
The Manhunt mode marks specific targets that need to be eliminated. Those targets are surrounded by other enemies to fight though, so it wasn’t as easy as it seemed. I was expecting more of a boss rush type of game mode but still found the mode quite enjoyable. It was nice to be able to end the challenge early by defeating specific enemies instead of needing to wipe out every single enemy on screen.
Finally, the game mode that I enjoyed the most by far was the performance mode. No, performance mode doesn’t increase your FPS, it is a mode that requires a certain amount of combo points in order to get the top score. Landing hits without taking damage boosts the score multiplier, which is vital to getting the highest score possible. This mode took a bit more time for me to adapt to because there wasn’t any leniency. I not only had to focus on the most optimal attack choices but also had to really prioritize not getting hit. Focusing on one more than the other limits your potential score, so it required improving at doing both simultaneously.
Each challenge takes place across nine dynamic locations that might look familiar to fans of classic martial arts movies. They are some really nice homages that will feel good for people who understand them. For those who don’t see the references, the locations are still going to feel beautiful and alive. Fighting in the rain in a back alley, for example, will feel great regardless of your martial arts media knowledge.
My biggest concern coming into Sifu Arenas was that the repetitive challenges were going to feel stale. Having a certain amount of score points needed to unlock different challenges helped keep me engaged. Each challenge also has different modifiers which make even different runs of survival mode feel different than the previous one. The main Arenas page does also show more challenge levels that will come in the future, which will either add new mode types or new challenge modifiers to keep things feeling fresh. I didn’t ever find myself getting annoyed by playing yet another survival or manhunt challenge, but once all 45 challenges are completed with the maximum score there isn’t much value in replaying them.
Adding a challenge mode to Sifu is a no-brainer, and Sifu Arenas absolutely delivers. There is enough variation in challenge types, modifiers, enemies, and locations to keep things feeling fresh throughout. If you have that itch to pick Sifu back up again or check it out for the first time, Sifu Arenas makes it worth it.
Sifu Arenas releases on March 28th, 2023 on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series S|X, and PC and will come to Nintendo Switch in Q2 2023.
Adding a challenge mode to Sifu is a no-brainer, and Sifu Arenas absolutely delivers. There is enough variance in challenge types, modifiers, enemies, and locations to keep things feeling fresh throughout.