Title: Yakuza Kiwami
Platform: PS4 (reviewed), PS3 (Japanese exclusive)
Publisher: Sega, Deep Silver
Release date: Out now
tl;dr:: This fully remade classic is worth your time franchise newbies or a veteran Yakuza.
Price: $30 / £24
Family Focus: Click here for more information.
This generation has been prone to receiving remasters of old titles with a little bit of a polish here and there. This is usually a move pulled by game developers to keep you occupied whilst you wait for their new game, or help you to catch up if you’re new to the series while making an extra buck or two.
Well, Yakuza Kiwami takes the premise of a little polish and throws it in the trash, along with the old game engine and assets! Yakuza Kiwami is completely remade, using the game engine from Yakuza 0, making Kiwami almost pass for a brand new game if you didn’t know about the original. Plus, they added a whole bunch of new features bringing it in line with the sequels and prequel, which makes it a worthwhile experience even for those played the original back in 2005.
Yakuza Kiwami opens with our star protagonist, Kazuma Kiryu, standing over the corpse of Sohei Dojima, taking the heat for a murder he didn’t commit. Kiryu is expelled from the clan and spends ten years in jail, until he is let out on parole, but nothing is as Kiryu remembers. His friend who murdered Dojima is now in control of his own crime family, the girl Kiryu loves has vanished, and her daughter’s sudden appearance shakes up our hero’s life.
If like me, you missed the original outing and started experiencing the Yakuza franchise with the third instalment, Yakuza Kiwami may feel a little small to you, as the whole game takes place in the fictional district of Kamurocho which is a renamed copy of Shinjuku’s red light district of Kibukicho, whilst small you have various shops you can enter and many side quests which I’ll mention a little bit further on. The series tradition of juggling between Kamurocho and a second location started in the second instalment of the franchise.
Due to the size of the game, it means the overall gameplay time is reduced from the later titles which usually span seventy or more hours whilst Kiwami is around twenty-five to thirty hours long. This may be why Sega thought to release the game at a lower price tag than other games on the current market, which is incredible, as Kiwami offers more content than most full-priced action titles currently out there.
The development team decided to throw in a wealth of side content, such as side quests for helping strangers on the streets by fetching something for them or helping them out against thugs this will net you Combat Points to spend against special items. Plus, you have mini-games like mini racing, classic karaoke, or visiting a hostess club. Another feature they added was the ability for Kiryu to access four different fighting styles instead of the single one in the original title, for example, use a fast fighting style like Rush to get the upper hand if you seem to be getting blocked by normal attacks. If you are facing against a strong boss, Beast is a great option to deal large amounts of damage.
Now, whilst everyone’s favourite nutjob Goro Majima isn’t playable in Kiwami, he does have plenty of screen time, as he stalks our stoic protagonist looking for any chance possible to fight Kiryu to bring back his original strength. “Majima Everywhere,” is funny and perfectly appropriate for the character who has carved his way into his fan’s hearts with a personality that switches up between being batshit crazy to deadly serious. Check him out in the above clip.
Overall, Yakuza Kiwami is an amazing game with a deep and rich story that may sometimes deviate to places that aren’t really necessary which can lead to pacing issues. The graphics and performance are top-notch, running at a solid 1080p and 60fps allowing every moment to be presented as beautifully as possible. Yakuza Kiwami sets the bar for remakes and hopefully, other remakes will follow suit in the future; with Yakuza Kiwami 2 coming in 2018. you can guarantee I will be picking it up as a day one purchase.
- Strong story and characters.
- Fun and enjoyable mini-games.
- Majima Everywhere is a treat.
- Story suffers some pacing issues.
- The world can feel a little small comparable to other entries in the franchise.
- No Switch port…
Yakuza Kiwami is rated M for Mature and PEGI 18. Contains violence, blood, partial nudity, use of alcohol and strong language.
This review is based on a review copy of the game provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review.