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My first time playing a Yakuza game


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Administrator · Posted

Just finished up playing Yakuza Kiwami, and I have pretty high praise for it, albeit with some mixed feelings on where to go from here. 

The characters were great, and I liked the story well enough. I ended up having the whole map pretty much memorized by the end, I found myself going "I'll hit up that restaurant with the casino in it for some stronger potions before I advance the story" or "I'll pop by the burger place to refill my health on the way to this next thing". The side stories were a nice feature, I found myself laughing at some recurring characters especially. 

Where things somewhat fall apart for me personally is that the series core gameplay is one of my least favourite genres - beat em up. The whole game I was reminded on occasion that I was slowly (VERY slowly...) unlocking aspects of the Dragon Stance, but by the end I only had I think 11 of like 50 unlocked. Those are earned by fighting a consistent pain in the side character, Majima, and he didn't actually show up near enough for me to have actually come anywhere close to done unlocking things through my 20 hour playthrough. I ended up literally never using that stance, despite it being the characters main "thing". 

Constantly running from place to place, being told "oh he's not actually here, you want THIS place!" was a bit funny/frustrating at times. I rolled my eyes a good few times at that, it was definitely a ps2 game originally. The fight system was fine, I beat the game on Normal with only a few deaths and those were relatively early on; I'd not unlocked much yet so was pretty weak in-game, and I'm not great at the genre. 

I don't know if I have it in me to play the whole series with the core system being a beat em up, but maybe if I space them out and not try to binge them. I mostly just wanted to move through the story which I did enjoy. 

I can see, all that said, why the series is well regarded. There was a lot to the game, it has a lot on offer, and I could see replaying it with your stuff unlocked being appealing for that power fantasy gameplay. 

Curious if anyone here has played all of them, and/or if anybody is a big fan. Would love to hear anyone else's thoughts on the series. 

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I'm assuming you are well aware that the latest game in the series isn't a beat'em up, but a turn based rpg, so won't go into details there. 

I've played five games in the series, but ironically never played Kiwami, even though I hear its good. The story has been referenced enough that I have a good idea what happens in it however. 

As I'm sure you've realised, Yakuza isn't really about the core beat'em up gameplay at all - and if you were to actually look at it as a beat'em up, it wouldn't be a particularly good one anyway. The game is about The characters, and all the optional antics

I'm gonna assume the story is only gonna get worse from here on out if you decide to follow where it's going - especially 5 and 6 get extremely dumb towards the end. So don't feel pressured to play games just for the sake of continuity.

I do think 5 is one of the most enjoyable games in the series if only because it has so much crazy stuff going on, and 4 introduces a bunch of the characters that are central to that game. Both of those games are good. 

Yakuza 0 is the game you'd see recommended most often, it's probably the best in the series, and it's a prequel so in terms of continuity you can jump into it whenever you want. It's the only out of the games I have played that actually has a coherent, emotional and *good* story worth playing the game for, but the side content is also some of the best in the series. It was made right before Kiwami so I imagine those two probably feel quite similar - but honestly, most of the games do. 

Like a Dragon of course is the big outlier, even if ditching the beat'em up gameplay doesn't make a big of a difference as one might think. It introduces a completely new set of characters, so if you don't want more beat'em up fights, it might be a good one to jump into now. It does feature a bunch of old characters too, but I don't think it's worth playing Yakuza 6 just to link the two stories - it's not that relevant and as long as you know who Kiryu is you'll get the gist of it. Goes without saying he became quite a legendary person throughout the series, in-universe. 

Most of the game reuses a lot of the same maps too, so that can be a little repetitive if you go through a lot of them. Like a Dragon primarily takes place on a brand new map though, so that is also a positive.

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Editorials Team · Posted

I'm playing Kiwami this year for my backlog.  Hoping to do 2 and 3 for next year's list.

That still pushes the rest out quite a bit, especially with 2 more slated to come out, so we'll see how it goes.  3 games in a franchise in a year is not normally something I'd do.

Not to mention Judgment and Lost Judgment.

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Editorials Team · Posted

Kiwami 2 thoughts:

  • Stances/styles are gone, thank God.
  • The five million fights against Majima are gone, thank God.
  • The gameplay is a lot more balanced this time, making the game quite a bit easier.  Probably too easy for some.
  • The story is easier to follow than the first game.
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