Let’s get sweaty!

Title: Shenmue 3
Platform: PC on Epic Games Store and PlayStation 4 (reviewed)
Developer: Ys Net
Publisher: Deep Silver
Release date: Out now.
Tl;dr: Step back into the shoes of Ryo Hazuki to hunt down your Fathers killer in this long-awaited sequel that feels straight out the early 2000’s.
Console: £55/$60
PC: £45/$50
Family Focus?: Click here for more information

Shenmue fans have been waiting for the third entry for 18 years after the second game ended on an unbelievable steep cliffhanger; like incredibly steep. I didn’t grow up on Shenmue as I live in one of the most remote areas in England which means game shops are few and far between so I never got to play it.

Thankfully, we live in a day and age where anything can be looked up online. So, I went to YouTube and watched an in-depth story recap for the previous two Shenmue games as well as the manga entries. Shenmue 3 features a recap episode but I didn’t think it summed up enough story details.

Shenmue 3 picks up straight from where the second game left off with Ryo and Shenhua discovering the large sculptures of the two mirrors in the deep cavern and then returning to search the village Shenhua to find the other stonemason called Xu, who was kidnapped. Ryo then hunts down some thugs who were spotted in the village but is defeated by their boss Yanlang. That’s how the narrative for Shenmue 3 begins!

Seeing as I had never played the original games I didn’t know it could take a few hours before the game kicks into high gear as there’s a lot of walking around, talking to NPCs and searching for clues for the whereabouts of the stonemason, Xu. I know from various promotional materials of the HD collection that mini-games such as capsule toy machines, arcades games and the famous forklift gameplay a huge part in Shenmue games.

Each side activity can be a bunch of fun but the main narrative doesn’t feel all that engaging mostly because Ryo is an incredibly stiff character blinded by the desire to exact revenge against Lan Di. Additionally, the voice acting isn’t particularly great… I don’t know if they were trying to replicate the dub from the originals but it can be very off-putting to an outsider like myself who never played previous entries in the Shenmue series.

The voice acting isn’t the only thing stuck in the past as the gameplay feels like it’s stuck in the past too as the combos for the fighting segments of the game seem like they have input delay and camera angles can be poorly placed which makes it a tad difficult to fight multiple opponents at once. Ryo can train himself to upgrade his strength and stamina to aid you in combat but it doesn’t make it any better.

Graphically, Shenmue 3 isn’t the prettiest game in the world in terms of the character models however the environments can be gorgeous and the world feels alive and lived in but the character models are wooden, stiff even, as mentioned above however graphics don’t define a game, the gameplay is what defines it overall.

Essentially, Shenmue 3 is a game that is stuck in the past which may be okay for fans of the franchise but for newcomers who never got to experience the originals, it seems a tad overwhelming in some strange, inexplicable way. However, if you are a fan of Shenmue then this game is probably one of the greatest things in the world for you.

Overall, Shenmue 3 is made for those diehard fans that have been waiting for 18 years for the continuation of Ryo’s story and whilst I am sure people like myself who didn’t get to play the originals could still enjoy the game more than I did. While I still enjoyed myself, I couldn’t get into the narrative like the longtime diehard fans of the series.

The Good

  • Fun mini-games to enjoy.
  • Gorgeous environmental graphics.

The Bad

  • Slow-paced narrative.
  • Wooden character models.
  • Poor voice acting.

Family Focus

Shenmue 3 is rated PEGI 16 and T for Teen by the ESRB. Shenmue 3 contains violence through martial arts as well as gambling and use of alcohol and tobacco that may be considered unsuitable for your little ones.

This review is based on a physical copy provided by PR for the purposes of this review.