06 September 2017 (released)
10 September 2017
To start, the gameplay is for the most part very similar to that of Yakuza Zero, so anyone who played that game should have no trouble settling in. You have four separate fighting styles; three are the ones from Zero, and the fourth is the classic fighting style lead character Kiryu is known for. However, due to being gone for a decade, Kiryu is rusty and is no longer the fighter he once was. Luckily for the player, Kiryu has a helper on hand to get him back into shape: Goro Majima. By fighting Goro whenever he shows up, Kiryu slowly starts to unlock pieces of his old fighting style again. It’s a neat idea, but depending on how often you get pounced on by the mad dog, it has the potential to run dry pretty quickly. For what I’ve experienced so far in this game, he hasn’t been too big of an issue.
Beyond the fights that most of the story seems to devolve into, there is plenty of extra content for the player to try out. Kamurocho is bustling full of things for you to see and do, from cabaret clubs and pocket racing to mah-jong. Yakuza is a series that doesn’t like to just give you a story and a series of fights - the world allows you to live in it.
As for the story itself, it’s hard to talk about without spoiling it, but those who have yet to play a Yakuza game will have no trouble latching on here. This is, after all, a remake of the first game, so no prior knowledge is required. Voice acting is just as on-point as it was for Yakuza Zero (save for one or two non-important characters) and will keep you invested in the plot. Kazama Kiryu may be the typical silent hero that by now is a dead and beaten trope of so many works of fiction, but he is by no means a plank of wood in this setting. Even when speaking quietly and in his usual monotone, he gives a far better performance than most would.
The game can suffer from some graphical let-downs in certain areas, however - while the city looks gorgeous at a distance, getting close-up can expose the low-quality textures in certain areas. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing in all aspects, however. The character models for just about every named character look stunning up close, and are a good show-off for where the PS4’s power is being pushed the hardest. It’s just a little disappointing to see reused assets from Yakuza Zero, despite the two decade gap in the story.
Yakuza Kiwami is, like many entries in it’s series, a quirky game. It portrays it’s story with a heavy seriousness, yet that tone rides side-by-side with the idea of playing with pocket racing cars. It’s a game that doesn’t care if things should make sense together or not. But it does work. And it’s a lot of fun. Even if you don’t fancy going to a cabaret club, or settling down for a game of shogi, the main game has more than enough to justify your £30.
And besides, who doesn’t want to feel like a badass yakuza who also plays mah-jong, who also watches adult DVDs and also helps random strangers?
+++ Excellent fighting gameplay
++ Good story and voice acting
++Plenty of side content
- Uneven graphical quality in some areas
-- Reused assets