As most of you probably already know, just recently Sega finally released the final episode in Kiryu’s Yakuza saga. Yes, I’m of course referring to “Yakuza 6”. Anyways, the game continues the story of Kazama Kiryu, ex-Yakuza and revered as the Dragon of Dojima, the game picks up immediately after the end of “Yakuza 5”, for those of you who played the last. So for those of you who have never played a Yakuza game before don’t think this game is unwelcoming for newcomers, because they give you as much information as you need to understand the characters and the world around you.
As stated, the game picks up right at the end of “Yakuza 5”, with Kiryu in the hospital after the final battle. The police come in and state that in order to prevent civilian riots and suspected collusion with the police, they need a Yakuza who was at the scene to be arrested as a symbol. Kiryu agrees so that the spotlight will not be on Haruka, the girl he took care of since Yakuza 1, and the Morning Glory orphanage that he manages.
The official game starts off three years following “Yakuza 5”, after Kiryu is released from prison and returns to Morning Glory, but not all is right in Okinawa, as Haruka has been missing since Kiryu was arrested. As a result, Kiryu returns to Kamorocho to look for his former affiliates to see if he can find his way to her.
The main story picks up at the realization that Haruka is in a coma at a nearby hospital, and to make matters worse. She now has a son, Haruto, with no known father. Here is where some of the story gets a little weak, as if the characters are looking for direction. A good portion of the game has Kiryu go into Hiroshima, where he begins the search for Haruto’s dad. For that small portion of the game, the game lacks a direction, which I took notice.
However, once the other subplots come into play and start focusing on Haruto, the direction is found and the game starts to come together. The story, of course, has its faults, and the big reveal at the end of the game doesn’t really live up to the buildup that is introduced about half-way into the game. Nevertheless, the story still works, is still engaging, and makes you feel like your role in the game is important, as any good game should.
The gameplay sets itself apart from previous iterations, or at least the previous iterations I played in the past (“Yakuza 0” and “Yakuza Kiwami”). There are six different types of experience points in Song of Life, each corresponding to different abilities and different stats.
Experience is gained through a number of activities, completing missions and substories, fighting random enemies, eating at different restaurants (and different types of food give you different types of experience), and entertaining yourself through a number of different mini-games and whatnot, as there have been through all of the previous games. Take it from me, from the last two stats, play some Majong and eat some sweets, because outside of the entertainment areas, you won’t be getting that stat in most other areas.
The music isn’t particularly memorable, unfortunately, though that’s been the case for the previous Yakuza games for me, outside of Yakuza 0’s title screen music, which Song of Life is woefully missing. The characters, while not as impactful as previous iterations, are still very distinct and memorable. They have their own weight, their own character arcs, and manage to keep you interested even when the story starts to slow down after a long sequence of fighting and action.
Speaking of the fighting, transitioning into a fight in a Yakuza game has never been smoother. Instead of stopping the flow in order to have the thugs be introduced and have Kiryu crack his neck and switch into his fighting mode like in the immediate predecessors, the action starts immediately, and can be done so fluidly that the first punch can be thrown before the category of thugs even appears on the screen.
With that said, some of the object Heat Moves, where you do a powerful attack with a single object until it breaks are the same action now, with even the bike, which used to have different actions based on how damaged it is, only as one Heat Move associated with it.
However, there are now more non-object heat moves you can get with experience points that give plenty of variation, though I would be lying if I said that I didn’t wish there were more object-based Heat Moves. Maybe I’m the only one.
Another problem that I felt this game had was the fact that the game’s combat wasn’t as varied in terms of fighting styles. In the two games I played prior, there were four different fighting styles of combat, and yes, I’m aware that in previous games there was only one fighting style. Even so, I feel like the introduction of those games was supposed to be an evolution of the fighting mechanics, yet this game goes back to the one fighting style formula.
That’s not a bad thing, as the combat is still a lot of fun once you’ve spent some time getting experience and upgraded to have a massive amount of different skills you can use in combat. Nevertheless, I still miss having the ability to switch up styles to combat different types of enemies.
As for visuals, Yakuza 6’s graphics are beyond phenomenal! And I’ve never seen any lag or had any problems running the game itself. It was a fully fluid experience from beginning to end, being a lot more colorful than I remember the two other games I played being.
The last point I want to hit involves Yakuza 6’s primary money-making mini-game. You see, in “Yakuza 0”, there was a similar mini-game where the purpose was to gain money in order to pay for upgrades where, as Kiryu, you played a Real Estate game and as Majima you run a Cabaret club (best part of the game, by the way). In this game, you build up your own gang in order to run out a corrupt anti-gang in a similar formula to “Yakuza 0”.
The main issue I have with this mini-game is that it’s too easy…Because once you’ve figured out the formula required to run through the majority of the maps, it’s basically over. Throw out a few heavies, when they get far enough, launch some grenadiers and gunmen, finally launch out a bunch of generic thugs, and you win. There’s also an option where you can type in a few codes to get some fan favorite characters to fight alongside the gang, each with their own abilities that make it easier.
However, the main problem isn’t that it isn’t fun, because it is, but that it’s too easy to a point of tedium. Luckily enough for you and me though, you don’t have to do this mini-game, but if you want to make money to do a lot of things in the game, it’s highly recommended.
So, all in all, “Yakuza 6” (despite the flaws that I have pointed out) is a fantastic end to the “Yakuza” saga. In other words, if you enjoyed the previous “Yakuza”, then you’re going to have a blast with “Yakuza 6” for sure!
Replay Value: 3/5
Yakuza 6 is a great game with no doubt, but it would be wrong of me to ignore some if its more glaring faults. The music is serviceable, but not memorable, the gameplay is engaging, but the combat feels a little watered down from its previous two iterations, and the new characters are good, but not the most memorable. That being said, for what it is, it’s still fun, action-packed, and is right where one expects in terms of expectations of what a Yakuza game should be. I highly recommend this game, even if it’s not the best of the three I’ve had the pleasure to experience.
Title: Yakuza 6: The Song of Life
Release date: 2018-04-17
Spent time: Unknown
Average grade internationally: 84.60%
ESRB Rating: M
Robin Ek – Editor
I bought the game with my own money.
The Gaming Ground
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