From the Dragon of Dojima, to a part-time granddad – Yakuza 6 brings a satisfying conclusion to the Kazuma Kiryu storyline.
Only six months since the release of Yakuza Kiwami, SEGA has once again graced Western audiences with the release of Yakuza 6: The Song of Life.
Released next month (bloody delays), Yakuza 6 is the seventh main entry for the series and the final conclusion to the Kazuma Kiryu storyline. With a gripping storyline surrounding multiple Asian crime organisations, tonnes of side missions, and a bunch of silly mini-games, Yakuza 6 is both a fantastic sequel and wonderful conclusion to a saga of brilliant titles.
As with any other Yakuza title, you assume the role as Kazuma Kiyru. Picking up after the events of Yakuza 5, Kiyru is once again placed under arrest and sent to prison for assault and damages to public property. Accepting his fate and hoping to keep Haruka away from any more negative publicity (by the way, she’s an idol in case you weren’t aware), Kiryu spends a good three years behind bars in the hopes of starting a clean slate.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen. During his time in prison, we find out that things have not only gotten bad, but worse for everyone associated with Kiryu. With Haruka being involved in a serious hit-and-run incident, we also find that Kiryu’s former Yakuza clan is in an all-out war between themselves and the Chinese mafia. And to further heighten tensions in the Kamurocho district, Haruka has also been secretly raising a child!
Once again finding himself wrapped up in all this, Kiryu has no choice but to investigate the mystery surrounding the child’s father and significance of Harukas incident.
From the streets of Tokyo (Kamurocho), to the coastal region of Hiroshima (Onomichi), Yakuza 6 has two main cities in which players will find themselves in. Much like Yakuza 0, players will jump between these places as the story progresses and explore these areas for hidden activities and side missions.
In terms of layout, Kamurocho has pretty much the exact same map. However, with that said, there a number of noticeable changes throughout this game that help keep the experience fresh and lively. For instance, the first one I noticed almost immediately was the removal of invisible barriers on certain buildings, and the ability to walk into stores with no load times in-between. While this may sound like a simple design improvement, in comparison with the previous iterations, this really does help to create a more dynamic and alive Tokyo setting.
As well as the design change, another neat feature that has been implemented is the ability to explore Kamurocho and Onomichi through a first person perspective. Granted, it doesn’t remain in first person for combat/dialogue segments, and it does require players to constantly click back to whenever these are triggered. However, it terms of its purpose, it just serves as a neat feature to help players admire the setting of these two cities.
Float like a butterfly, punch like a dragon!
As usual, players can trigger fist fights between random street thugs while exploring these areas. Like any other Yakuza title, combat is fast, dynamic and incredibly fun to play. Smashing enemies into walls and knocking them senseless is just as fun as ever, and the game offers a variety of interesting boss battles to keep fights dynamic.
There are a few changes to combat, with the most noticeable being the omission of switching between three different fighting styles during battle. While it is shame that SEGA removed this feature, in my experience with the game, I grew to appreciate this new system for what it was. Sure, I did kind of miss switching to ‘beast mode’ and hurling every item around me onto enemies. But for what it was, there is a tonne of cool combos and finishing moves for players to keep combat interesting and fun.
In addition to this new combat system, Yakuza 6 also has another neat feature – the ability to bring fights into nearby stores. For instance, during one particular segment in Yakuza 6, I ran into a store, hoping to hide from some nearby thugs. Assuming that they would ignore me, I was instead followed into the store, which ultimately triggered a combat sequence and forced me to beat them senseless.
After kicking their arses and smashing a couple of displays, I went to speak to the store clerk to see if I could purchase some healing items. However, instead of politely greeting me with his usual welcome, I was instead treated to an angry ‘go away, and never come back!’, which ultimately forced me to shop elsewhere.
Side missions are back, and this time, each one is now fully voice acted. Much like the previous iterations, each one is just as strange, bizarre, random and interesting to complete. As you wander the streets of either Kamoroucho or Onomichi, you will stumble across a fair few odd characters either on your way to a mission, or just by simple exploring the area.
Just to give you a sample of what you can expect from this game, in this one particular mission in Onomichi, I was wandering through the main shopping district when I stumbled across the head of some mascot. Upon discovering it, Kiryu was eventually greeted by a PR manager, who was after a ‘strong actor’ to pose as the town’s mascot for an upcoming event. With no one else to fill in the role, Kiryu finds himself somehow convinced into going along with the stunt to entertain some of the local kids. After finding himself getting kicked in the shins and interviewed on live television, eventually some local thugs try to make a scene, which ultimately results in Kiryu kicking their arses.
As you can probably tell, these kind of random encounters run dormant throughout the two cities. From time travelling school girls, to out of control vacuum cleaners, the degree of clever writing placed into all of these side missions will charm the pants off anyone willing to go out and explore.
With a serious story and some quirky side missions, it wouldn’t be a Yakuza game without the mini-games!
As expected with Yakuza 6, there are plenty of mini-games and activities throughout the streets of Kamoroucho and Onomichi. With karaoke making its return once again, SEGA has also added some new arcade games for players to enjoy. From Virtua Fighter 5 to Puyo Puyo, players can check out some basic arcade versions of these titles, and sink in multiple hours between these two SEGA arcades.
In addition to these titles, players can also hit up a bar to enjoy a game of darts, enjoy a date with a hostess, and rescue stray kitties for a cat cafe. While these activities are entirely optional, it is so much fun to just simple opt out of the main missions and kill several hours in either darts or karaoke performances.
In ketsuron (that’s Japanese for ‘conclusion’)
Overall, my time with Yakuza 6 has been incredible. While the changes to its Tokyo setting may seem minor on paper, the improvements to the overall gaming experience make it one of the best iterations of Kamurocho to date.
In addition to its quirky setting, Yakuza 6 shines best with its story and comes out strong with its acting performances. While the future of the Yakuza games is more than likely to involve a new cast of characters, I am otherwise excited to see what new and exciting improvements they can incorporate later down the track.
In other news, you should be getting pumped for Vermintide 2. Here’s why.