Yakuza Kiwami is the marriage of Streets of Rage, Shenmue, Virtua Fighter and the Godftather. Yakuza is a love letter to those of who lived and breathed the Mega Drive and the Sega Saturn. It’s a stunning game and after spending over 20 hours with it- I can officially say I’m a believer.
The Yakuza franchise is an action adventure RPG developed by Sega that started on the PS2 ten years ago. While over the last decade, the series had it’s missteps trying to find it’s footing in the Western market- the launch of the PlayStation 4, Yakuza 0, and their respective successes have finally catapulted the series into the mainstream conversation.
Yakuza Kiwami is that very first Yakuza game remade from the ground up for current gen hardware. The results are – to be blunt- stunning.
After a 10 year prison sentence for protecting his best friend and taking the blame for a crime he didn’t commit, Kiryu’s new adventure begins in Kamurocho and he’ll come across some familiar faces from his past and a few surprises along the way. He has a lot of catching up to do so he can get with the times. I really enjoyed the story, it felt like a soap opera because you wanna know what happens next after every chapter, you get emotionally attached to the characters and the game will put you in many situations that can occur in real life which makes Kiryu’s character relatable.
Although kiryu maybe a badass, he conducts himself very well and is looked at by many as a stand up guy. Each hour is filled with one surprise after another and you’ll witness many twists and turns as you progress further. The game has variety when it comes to the sub stories, you can help people in need, visit hostess clubs, dating women you meet or playing the mini games at the arcade amusements. Did I forget to Mention the underground casinos as well. There’s so much content to keep you busy for a while.
The gameplay in the Yakuza games was always it’s strong point and Kiwami is no exception, the combat system is satisfying compared to other Action RPGs and you learn something new along the way. You’ll have many different fighting styles to suit the encounters you may get in to, you can also upgrade stats and learn new moves by using your experience points, you also learn new skills everytime you fight Kiryu’s main rival Majima in random encounters. I really enjoyed testing the physics of this game, you can pull off some brutal moves that can make your opponent bounce from one side of the wall to the other.
Yakuza Kiwami has 4 Difficulty levels, easy medium, hard and legendary. The boss fights are entertaining but can be also be difficult at times, it can really test your skill and patience. Unlike Yakuza 0 you can carry over your stats on a new game+ once you beat the game on your first playthrough so it’ll make it easier for you to obtain the platinum trophy.
The graphics in Yakuza Kiwami look incredible and it’s packed with the attention to detail that makes Kamurocho look alive and vibrant, it gives an accurate representation of a nightlife district areas in Japan. The cinematics were done so well and the facial animations were on point. It’s a remake built from the ground up so the character models, in-game assets, and voice overs were reworked to modern standards, It’s using the dragon engine which was used for Yakuza 6 so you’ll get all the enhancements needed in a remake.
However, with all that being said, I’ve had many issues with the camera in certain areas and it felt awkward at times, I’ve had these issues mainly around narrow areas when I’m fighting the mobs. The game does run at a buttery smooth 60fps Even during combat.
Yakuza Kiwami was like a rollercoaster ride with the most satisfying combat, the mini games were fun and exploring Kamuroch was a blast. There’s never been a better time to try out the Yakuza series and Kiwami is definitely the best game to start with.