This is a remake of the first Yakuza game originally released for the PlayStation 2. I haven’t played the original but I have played the prequel, Yakuza Zero. This review is coming from that perspective. I played the Microsoft Windows release via Steam.
Yakuza Kiwami follows Kazama Kiryu , a man in his thirties who has just been released from jail after ten years for the (framed) murder of the Yakuza’s Dojima family patriarch. Now free, he returns to find that his childhood friend and crush, Yumi has gone missing, his best friend Akira Nishikiyama is now a Yakuza family head, and that everyone is searching for 10 billion yen.
Soon making the acquaintance of a young girl named Haruka, the daughter of Yumi’s previously unknown sister and somehow connected to the 10 billion yen, and assisted by cop, Date, Kiriyu must solve the mystery of the 10 billion yen, protect Haruka and work out just what happened to his friend who now seems to have it out for him.
Gameplay is much the same as Yakuza Zero.
You have four combat styles this time around. Brawler is the default and the most balanced style. You also have a rush style and a beast style which offer speed and power respectively. Like with Zero, you are basically starting from ground zero in terms of your prowess with these styles. This explained as you having lost your edge while in prison which in terms of excuses to have the protagonist start over at the start of a new game is as good as any.
I did mention four styles though and the forth is your Dragon of Dojima style. It is the most impacted style by the 10 year gap. It is supposed to be your signature style but it is the most work to upgrade it. You upgrade the style by fighting Majima who has taken it upon himself to get his sempai back in shape.
Other game play consists of going location to location and completing quests and sometimes a mini game. Occasionally at key points in the story line, you will enter explorable areas with combat taking place without a transition. This is a precursor to how things are in Yakuza 2 remake and 6, which is a nice touch.
It can be challenging at time but the game allows a plentiful store of easily purchasable health items to keep you alive long enough to survive even the more tricky fights.
It looks good. It is the same engine as 0, and that game was a cross generational release which limited what could be done graphically. It still looks quite realistic though with particular attention payed to lighting and characters.
Each character is voiced and the acting is good. It is all in Japanese which was a stylistic decision from the publisher given the game takes place in Japan and they (obviously) don’t speak English.
It’s a good time overall and you will feel compelled to go from story beat to story beat. Game-play is fun without being too repetitive or stressful. It’s a great way to unwind.
Great game. Go get it!
Rating: out of 5 cups