Saturday, 21 July 2018

Yakuza 6 ★★★★★

Out now on PS4, the ‘Yakuza’ series has finally graced us with a new instalment of the franchise. ‘Yakuza 6: The Song of Life’ follows the story of Kazuma Kiryu as he once again tries to get out of the Yakuza, and instead gets pulled back into a war between the Yakuza triads and the Korean mafia. Thrown into the mix is that Kiryu now finds himself the guardian of one year old Haruto, the child of his adopted daughter Haruka. Like the other games in the series, it is set in Kamorocho, Tokyo, but also a completely new area, Onomichi in Hiroshima,

This is the first game in the ‘Yakuza’ series which is on the new engine, which has both positives and negatives. On the plus side, there’s no loading screens in between fights anymore, and the world is absolutely beautiful and very accurate to the bustling streets of Tokyo. However, the new engine means that the game does lose some of the original character that made it such a cult hit.

The fight system has now been really streamlined, meaning that there’s only one fighting style as opposed to the option of switching between Brawler, Dragon, Rush, and Beast. Whenever you do any sort of activity in the city you earn five different types of experience which then feed into your stats, but also skills for fighting. You can still use your environment to your advantage, utilising chairs, bikes, and so on to smash into your enemy's face, and you can also perform heat actions, which are special moves that you unlock as you build up your skill. The fighting feels weighted and powerful, but some fun is lost from the lack of styles.

As always, the narrative is engrossing and full of twists and turns. A lot of past characters make appearances in this one so you could find yourself lost if you haven’t played the previous ones, however, the main narrative does represent itself as a standalone story and, although it’s better if you’ve played the whole lot, it’s still excellent if you haven’t. During the first few chapters of the story you see a side to Kiryu that’s never really been exhibited before as he learns how to take care of a small child, which leads to some interesting scenes and some really hilarious moment (such as Kiryu handing the baby over to a stranger just before every street brawl). The series has always combined serious with funny and this time it’s done particularly well.

Of course, the game wouldn’t be part of the franchise without the plethora of side activities available, from a baseball sim to bowling and even a slightly surreal live chat room game (I won’t spoil it for you, but I can promise a highly Japanese experience). There’s plenty of side activities to distract you from the story, and you could certainly spend hours exploring the city without advancing through the main quest.

‘Yakuza’ is genuinely one of the most underrated series of all time, and as the first real entry on the PS4 it’s easily one of my favourite new games to date. It manages to pull together so many different plot threads into a cohesive and mature story, with an explosive ending that will not disappoint. 


Hannah Read

Yakuza 6 at CeX

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