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Yakuza Kiwami Review

Yakuza Kiwami is a remade overhaul of the original Yakuza game that started the long running franchise ten years ago. Accompanying (in the states) the release from January of Yakuza 0, a prequel for the series, this provides newcomers to Yakuza a perfect entry point into this infamous world. Telling the story of Kiryu Kazama aka the Dragon of Dojima as he makes his way up (and down) the ranks of the Japanese criminal underworld of the Yakuza families while still trying to maintain his honor and integrity as a man. The re haul of this game graphically is amazing and has introduced some new game mechanics that long time fans will surely love to sink their teeth into. So lets jump right into this review, and I will be trying to avoid all spoilers as much as possible so that new comers can enjoy the games story experience as much as possible for themselves.

First off, lets talk about the game play and mechanical upgrades. I actually had to track down and play an original copy of this game to get a true feel of how much the controls have improved over the last decade. The original reminded me of having the tank like controls similar to older Resident evil titles (not to that extreme but still, clunky), while Kiwami is much more fluid and fast paced. It felt immeasurably better and the only complaint I personally have is the camera controls while walking around Japans Kamurocho, they were a bit hard to get used to. But after an hour in I hardly even noticed it and had adapted to the control scheme with ease. The fights are fluid, fast paced, and very easy to learn in comparison. The city surroundings and aesthetics look amazing and even boast some buisness and brand names from real life. Walking through the streets of Kamurocho you feel like your actually there with the bustling crowds, neon lights, and sounds all giving you the package experience. Not to mention that all of the cinematic cut scenes look amazing and give you the feel of watching a movie unfold.

Side quests are a longstanding part of the Yakuza series. They often give a light hearted and funny back drop to the heavy drama of the main story and are a great way to upgrade your character. Ranging from fetch quests, to catching thieves, to helping children and even dominatrix these side mission will leave you smiling and laughing for hours. Batting cages, going to Karaoke bars, a female wrestling ring, and frequenting hostess clubs are some of the entertaining things you can find yourself doing just to name a few. There were many times I found myself forgetting about the main story and spending hours on these activities because they simply were so much fun and provided me with perks to help later in the game. 

Kiryu has 4 distinct fighting styles at his disposal. Rush, Brawler, Beast, and Dragon. 3 of which are available most of the game, but you have to slowly unlock his signature Dragon style as you progress. Rush is a fast paced style allowing you to deftly dodge and get in combo’s quickly. Brawler is the standard street fighting style that is the middle ground for both speed and strength. And beast focuses on a strength based slow pace that lets you take wide swings and use weapons more advantageously to take out crowds of enemies.  Every time you enter a fight they provide the seamless transition which often involves random battles on the streets. You’ll see a group of other Yakuza, street thugs, or other such troublemakers which you simply have to walk up to in order to trigger a battle sequence. Its all in real time with no pause and does nothing to take away from your exploration. All of the fights in the game are fast and very brutal and are meant to give you the feel of what fighting a Yakuza may actually be like. With unforgiving combo’s ranging from delivering a wrestling like suplex on the concrete to baseball kicking a kneeling opponent to even swinging around a motorcycle (yes you read that correctly) I found myself constantly wincing with amusement every time I discovered a new move mid battle. 

The main story isn’t as long as Yakuza 0 or even Yakuza 3 and 4 for instance. The game is at a lower price point here in the states which makes sense and provides newcomers to the series a good entry to try it out. I personally would recommend newbies to play Yakuza 0 first though, just to introduce them to the characters and stories, and I felt that 0 gave a better tutorial on the fighting mechanics and over all flow to how the series works. Long time fans will love the newest addition in the Majima everywhere system. Long standing character Goro Majima, determined to help Kiryu gain back his fighting prowess, hides throughout the streets of Kamurocho and will constantly ambush and fight you as you go. It was a witty and fun mechanic that was not in the original that gives a little something more to this title.

Overall this was a fun title to play through. It felt short, but it is a remake from a decade ago. The overhaul Kiwami has received puts it graphically and mechanically on par with this years release of Yakuza 0 and leaves me very excited for the upcoming Yakuza 6. It is easy to jump into for both newcomers and long time fans and left me very entertained. The high stakes and dark drama feel of the main story is very well complemented by the light hearted and fun side missions giving the game its unique charm.The Game will be released 8/29/2017.  I give Yakuza Kiwami a 7 out of 10. Happy Gaming everyone.




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