It's been over a decade since the Yakuza series first graced gamers' screens, back on the PlayStation 2. Shockingly, neither me or Allan had ever played the original, so we went into Yakuza Kiwami with fresh eyes, excited that we could finally play without having to hunt down an old copy and sort out one of our old PlayStation's to play it - and that's without the issue of having to track down a memory card!
You play as Kazuma Kiryu, a former yakuza who has just been released from prison after serving ten years for a crime he didn't commit. In an open world environment, set in the streets of Kamurocho (based on the real life city of Kabukicho), the hustle and bustle of the Japanese streets and the colourful neon lights really bring the setting to life.
The combat feels great, and the skill tree with its many branches can be continuously upgraded with skill points gained by doing everything from main storyline, to the wide variety of sub-stories, to various activities within the city itself. One of the branches of the skill tree, Dragon of Dojima, can only be upgraded by completing tasks with your trainer, or the Majima Everywhere events - where the eye-patch-wearing character Goro Majima will just pop up out of nowhere to battle you.
This is a funny, albeit repetitive action, that will end up frustrating you at times, since he can fairly knock down your health fast, however for the most part it's manageable.
The story is strong, although I do admit that it was a tad confusing to follow on occasion, but it was definitely enjoyable. The sub-stories add in a lot of humour and were a welcome break for whenever you wanted to just wander around the streets and visit the varying locations, such as Hostess Bars - where I was quickly duped and mugged after a girl dropped something in my drink...
There's a lot of detail to Yakuza Kiwami, from the locations, characters and general atmosphere, it's clear a lot of work went into it, and it's easy to see just why this game is so deserving of a current-gen remaster.
In the end, we have to give Yakuza Kiwami an 8/10. It's a solid game, with plenty to do and see, so definitely one I recommend you all pick up ASAP.
Have you played Yakuza Kiwami? What did you think of it?
Let me know in the comments below!
- V x