Like a good book or a new show on Netflix, Yakuza 6 is something to be binged. Writing this Yakuza 6 review was a challenge because it forced me to stop playing.
I really didn’t want to.
I mean I REALLY didn’t want to stop playing. Yakuza 6 is the kind of game that lodges itself in your brain and doesn’t let go.
There is so much to see and do and playing it is so sublime that hours pass in a matter of minutes. Or so it feels.
As per usual, the story in Yakuza 6 is simultaneously dramatic, personal, weird, hilarious, grounded and incredibly over-the-top. Which is just as it should be. When combined with the flawlessly refined gameplay Yakuza 6 is quite possibly the best of the franchise.
Yakuza 6 Review
Being the sixth game in the series, you’d expect a pretty high barrier to entry into Yakuza 6. There are a wealth of characters and a history to Yakuza that would be daunting to any newcomers.
SEGA has developed Yakuza 6 with this in mind though. The lengthy introduction and opening cinematics reintroduce Kiryu, Haruka and the entire supporting cast.
It brings players up to speed on the important events in recent Yakuza history and gives them a taste of what to expect going forward.
Of course, fans of the series know what they’re getting into. Yakuza 6 is one of the most standalone titles in the main series and it goes to great lengths to make sure everything that happens exists within the bubble of this game.
Who’s baby is this?
After three years in prison, Kiryu returns to Okinawa and his orphanage only to find Haruka missing. Feeling guilty over her disappearance, Kiryu returns to Kamurocho to find his adopted daughter.
As he arrives, Kiryu discovers that Haruka has been injured in a hit and run. In a coma and unable to communicate, Kiryu discovers Haruka’s infant son was with her in the accident.
While Haruto is uninjured, he is a surprise to Kiryu who had no idea Haruka had given birth. Setting out to find Haruto’s father is Kiryu’s motivation though he’s inevitably drawn into the world he thought he left in the past.
It’s best experienced yourself, but rest assured the Tojo Clan, Saio Triads, Jingweon Mafia and Hiroshima families all get involved. There’s intrigue, double-crossing, murder, mystery and of course, shirtless fist-fights.
There are references to past games, cameos here and there and some great callbacks that will really take fans back. These will go over new players’ heads, but they’re vague enough and unrelated to the main plot so as to ensure continuity.
Like The Witcher 3 felt similar to the way James Bond movies operate, Yakuza 6 falls into the same category.
Having played past Yakuza games will give you a deeper appreciation of Yakuza 6, but it’s not essential. Just like the more Bond you’ve seen makes for a deeper experience in Daniel Craig’s latest films.
The Dragon of Dojima
At its core. Yakuza 6 is a semi open-world RPG. But it’s also a brawler, a walking simulator and a whole lot more.
It’s like an arcade version of life in Japan.
As you play through the story, you’ll largely be watching cutscenes and engaging in fights with the important figures therein. You’ll be investigating Haruka and her child and learning about the plots of the crime families of Tokyo.
When you’re not playing through the story, you’ll explore Kamurocho and Onomichi. You’ll meet a colourful cast of characters, play a HUGE range of minigames and solve an eclectic assortment of personal problems.
As I said previously, there is so much to do in Yakuza 6. If you want to blow through the story without bothering with any side content, you’re still going to get at least 12-hours out of Yakuza 6.
You’ll be missing out on what makes Yakuza special if you do though. The heart and soul of these games (Yakuza 6 is no exception) are watching Kiryu’s interactions with everyday people. Helping them with their issues (which range from odd to downright heartfelt) helps create a connection between the player and Kiryu’s world.
You want to see him succeed and you want to help him save the day.
Get it all done
The all-new engine that powers Yakuza 6 along with the entire game being voiced in Japanese makes this the most authentic, gorgeous and believable world yet.
The character models and environments leap from the screen and the sound design is impeccable. Yakuza 6 is playable Japanese cinema, which should be enough to sell it to you.
I’ve loved every Yakuza I’ve ever played, but Yakuza 6 may just be my favourite. It’s a refinement of everything that’s come before and as I mentioned in my preview, Yakuza 6 is Yakuza streamlined.
It’s sad to say goodbye to Kiryu as our hero, but when Yakuza is this good, I’ll be happy to play as anyone. So long as I keep getting to play.
If you’re a fan of the series then you’re already going to get Yakuza 6.
If not then maybe give it a shot. If you like Action-RPGs, fighting games, dating sims, sports mini-games and everything else you can think of, then you’re going to have a lot of fun with Yakuza 6.
It’s one of the best games of this generation and one of the best games I’ve ever played.
Yakuza 6 was reviewed on PS4 using a digital code provided to PowerUp! by SEGA.