Kazuma Kiryu is back- and he’s never looked better. After appearing in 6 games as the main lead, Yakuza 6: The Song of Life is an epic conclusion to Kazuma Kiryu’s journey.
For Kazuma Kiryu, trouble just can’t let him go. The Dragon of Dojima is once again in prison. Paying for crimes of the past, Kiryu and the current chairman of the Tojo Clan, Daigo Dojima- are both doing hard time- leaving the seeds of rebellion and angst to take the underworld once again down a rabbit hole. Yakuza 6 opens as we are greeted with the series familiar cutscene heavy, dialogue driven introduction into the world of Kamurocho. During the opening hours, series favorite- Haruka announces her retirement from Pop Idol stardom and is struck down with tragedy as we find her in a coma- only this time, she is a mother.
If all the names and locations sound foreign to you, fear not! Yakuza 6‘s story is self contained where knowledge of prior games isn’t necessary to fully comprehend- however, the game does contain a section where a plot synopsis of prior games is provided to help those who want full context.
During the 20 hour campaign, players will be taken across Kamurocho to Hiroshima. Like prior entries in the franchise the story’s complex crosses, double crosses, shocking revelations, and jarring moments of emotional resonance are all in tact.
It isn’t a surprise when I say this: Yakuza has never looked better. Rendered in a glorious 1080p, Yakuza 6‘s new engine is absolutely breathtaking. Players will be treated to a bevy of technical effects like advanced depth of field, texture upgrades, increase in the density of NPC’s/geometric complexity, and most importantly lighting upgrades that truly make it feel home on the PS4. Not everything is good news, however. In order to pay for those shiny pixels, Yakuza 6 runs at 30 FPS. This is a little jarring seeing as how the prior PS4 releases- Yakuza 0 and Kiwami both ran at a locked 60 FPS. Furthermore, not everything has been upgraded. You can still see the DNA of prior games stuck in last generation fidelity.
The bread and butter of any Yakuza game is it’s Stat Driven RPG beat em up fighting mechanics. Kiryu is charge attacking, parrying, and finishing foes off with the cleanest looking moves yet. The good news is most mechanics and abilities unlock quite easily and earlier on in the game.
Long time fans may be disappointed in the omission of the extra fighting styles found in previous installments. This is further confounded without a secondary playable character. After the glorious Yakuza 0– the 6th entry leaves a bit to be desired when it comes variety and finesse of the combat.
With that said, Hiroshima City seems to be crafted for the ground up on PS4. New to the series is a first person mode where players will be allowed to get up, close, and personal with the fine details of the city. This in and of itself, is something I found myself doing more than once, because everything is really that detailed.
The real meat and potatoes of the game isn’t the main quest, but the actual sub quests littered across the game. In fact, I found myself in a gameplay loop of finishing up sub stories, playing mini-games, and eating at different restraunts to help buff my character’s abilities. To be perfectly frank, there is nearly 100 hours of content here if you were to actually sit down and try to finish it all. For the completionist’s out there, this game is worth every penny.
Lastly, the mini-games this time around are once again hilarious, addicting, and an absolute joy. Not everything is great – Darts is still- Darts, but you will find updates to Hostess club’s, an “excercise” gym simulator, and even a game where the Dualshock 4’s motion sensor / speaker is tied together to comfort a child. If none of that sounds fun- there’s the SEGA arcade where players can find Virtua Fighter 5 ready to play. To put it bluntly: There’s fun to be had.
Which ultimately brings up to the important question: Should you buy Yakuza 6? Yes. The gameplay, the content, the story and it was the perfect send off for one of gaming’s most beloved characters. It’ll be interesting to see where SEGA take this beloved series going forward – it’s almost baffling how much Ryu ga Gotoku studio stuffed into this package.