Sega decided to remake the very first game in the Yakuza series, but was it worth it? Find out what we thought in our Yakuza Kiwami Review.
|Release Date||August 29, 2017|
It’s been over 10 years since Sega introduced us to the first game in the Yakuza series and protagonist Kazuma Kiryu. Yakuza Kiwami brings us back to Kiryu’s first adventure with updated visuals and gameplay elements bringing it more in line with recent games in the series. It’s a great way for people who haven’t played the first game to see how the series began and how far it has come over the last decade. The question is, was it really worth the remake?
The story of Kazuma Kiryu emerging from a prison stint after taking the fall for a friend hasn’t changed from the original. This is the exact same story that you remember from way back being a remake and all. The details of the characters and game world are far better than they were in the original. Kamurocho feels like a living, breathing city in a way that couldn’t be done in the original release on PlayStation 2. The Yakuza series does a great job re-creating the feel of Japanese nightlife and it continues to shine in that regard. The series has never looked better.
The gameplay has been vastly improved as well with the fighting style being more reminiscent of Yakuza 0 from earlier this year. Kiryu can use different fighting styles and earn upgrades to boost his power and learn new moves. This is a huge upgrade over the original game’s more basic combat. Most of the fighting styles used in Kiwami are carried over from Yakuza 0, but there is a new addition with the Dragon fighting style. I was a little bit annoyed that Kiwami didn’t do a very good job in teaching how the styles differ and how they’re best used. The differences between all these styles are quite vast and if you don’t know how to use them, you’re going to have a frustrating experience. It’s almost as though Sega assumed you have played Yakuza 0 which obviously won’t always be the case.
Exploration and character interactions are also similar to Yakuza 0. Everything happens pretty seamlessly and without load times from battles to helping out random people on the streets. The only time you have to load is when you go into new areas and for cutscenes. You’ll also encounter Goro Majima frequently during your journey. He seems hell-bent on trying to help Kiryu re-learn how to be a proficient fighter after being incarcerated. He’s everywhere so you always have to be on your toes on the off-chance he wants to fight.
[amazon_link asins=’B06Y5Y9T8V,B06Y5YYCQW’ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’fyig-20′ marketplace=’CA’ link_id=’02b57e9e-888b-11e7-b711-cb927fb4bfbd’]
Of course, when you’re not feeling like dealing with the main story in Yakuza Kiwami, there’s still plenty to do. Side-activities like visiting hostess clubs, hitting some balls at the batting range, and singing songs at karaoke make their return. There are even some new activities thrown in the mix. I’m not going to spoil any of these new activities, but there is more than enough to keep you busy. As with most Yakuza games, there are some weird mini-games thrown in there as well. I like that the series doesn’t take itself too seriously and gives you some different diversions from the darker tones of the main story.
The flow of the story in Yakuza Kiwami is not great and I found it really hard to get into the story in the first few hours especially. There is so much point A to point B stuff that it gets incredibly boring and is quite frankly a slog. This improves a little bit after those first few hours, but the game still has its flaws. Most notably to me is the fact that the story does a lot of jumping around doing a lot of flashbacks and time jumps. It can start to get confusing quite quickly. Then there’s random focus on side characters out of nowhere which I felt would have been better suited for side missions like Yakuza 0. Sega did add some new cutscenes, but it didn’t do much to help the cause. It may have made things even worse. The story is only about 20-30 hours depending on your skill level so it won’t take you very long to get through it.
Yakuza Kiwami is a prototypical Yakuza game at heart. Sega did a great job bringing the original game up to speed with the latest games in the series. This game looks, plays, and feels like Yakuza 0 and that game was pretty good so I can’t complain too much. The only complaint I have is that the flow of the story and the poor first few hours of the game. If you enjoy this series, you’ll have fun with this game. If you haven’t played a Yakuza game before, I’d probably recommend playing Yakuza 0 first as it was a superior game. Still, at $29.99 US, Yakuza Kiwami is definitely worth a playthrough for any action-adventure fan.
*A copy of this game was provided to FYIG by Sega for review purposes*