Earlier in the year back in February (god, that was a fuckin long time ago and it’s May already) Yakuza 0 finally came to the Xbox One. I played it, reviewed it, and bloody enjoyed it. So it’s only natural that next up and recently released on Xbox one is Yakuza Kiwami. A remake of the very first game that was on the PS2 back in 2005, albeit with a few extra story elements and different gameplay. Entirely in Japanese (with subtitles) as the original game also had English voice acting. Anyhow, commence the review.
The plot picks up after the events of Yakuza 0, now focusing entirely on Kazma Kiryu. Who has made a name for himself in the Yakuza and is preparing to run his own crime family soon, after his boss, Sohei Dojima (one of the main baddies from Yakuza 0) tries to rape his childhood friend Yumi Sawamura and gets murdered by Kiryu’s best mate Akira “Nishiki” Nishikiyama. So Kiryu decides to take the fall for the murder and does a 10-year stretch, in which he’s expelled from the Tojo Clan.
Once he’s got out on parole. Nishiki has now got his own family and now become an absolute bastard. Yumi has gone missing and 10 Billion Yen has gone missing from the Tojo Clan coffers, and the chairman of the Tojo clan has been topped. Leaving a power vacuum where multiple big wigs are vying over causing a bit of a civil war, and the key to the 10 billion is with a kid named Haruka who’s searching for her mum. Kiryu has got a conspiracy to unravel and all the while protecting the kid from members of the Yakuza, Triads, and secret government agencies, and it follows the plot of the original from there.
The differences between Kiwami and the original is the introduction of plot elements involving Nishiki and his downfall from Kiryu’s best mate to a right bastard, and how it all happened via incompetency and jealousy. So, a bit like someone in the White House then?
The second follows the former protagonist from Yakuza 0 and boggled eye lunatic Goro Majima who has now developed a brutal and sadistic streak since then, but still has a bit of a heart. Before Kiryu went to jail he turned down an offer for disco stopping with Majima. Which he doesn’t take very well, then once after Kiryu gets out of prison he then challenges him to a fight and wins. In which he points out that during the 10 years his skills have gotten a bit rusty, and wanting to fight Kiryu in his prime cooks up elaborate schemes and situations to get him to fight to help. In short – think of Kato from the Peter Sellers Pink Panther films.
Overall, the plot compared to Yakuza 0 is much more simplified when it follows one character instead of two and tries to intertwine them, and is much shorter in comparison. It does have a bit of a pacing issue where it takes the more scenic routes to get around plot issues, but I enjoyed it more than I enjoyed Yakuza 0. Focusing on Nishiki and his demise was intriguing and Majima brings a healthy dose of comic relief with his antics.
The gameplay – if like me, you’ve only played Yakuza 0 from earlier in the year. Then the good news is that it’s virtually identical so you should be picking it up very quickly. The differences are that at the start you have every perk and ability under the sun, then after the 10-year stretch, it’s all taken away and you have to start from zero. And unlike in zero where you have to use your cash to upgrade your abilities has changed for a more conventional XP system, and money is now for items and equipment.
You now have 4 distinct fighting styles instead of 3 with the introduction of the Dragon style, which for the most part is a bit crap compared to the other 3 styles. However, it’s still madly fun to disco stomp twerps with bicycles, and Majima playing as Cato from the Pink Panther films replaces Mr Shakedown. Wondering the town and will appear in the most unexpected ways, which beating him in different scenarios will unlock new abilities for your dragon fighting style.
There is side stuff as well from side stories from a host of wacky characters, mini-games and stuff to do. Sadly the business side of things like running a cabaret club or real estate isn’t in the game this time around which is a bit sad. Still going through the main plot and some of the side stuff still managed to clock around 20-25 hours of game time which like its predecessor is good value, and if you have Xbox Game Pass, it’s even better.
Other stuff to mention – Graphics are pretty top-notch, the sound is good as well and that aside from a weird graphical thing with trees and stuff popping in and out unexpectedly at weird times. It runs nice and smooth, like a good whiskey
So, the verdict – Yakuza Kiwami is a good game. The plot does have a pacing problem but for the most part, it’s enjoyable and still has the comedic moments thanks to Majima and the side stories. The gameplay is familiar to veterans of Yakuza 0 and the changes mentioned makes it a more straightforward game in the end, all the while still packing a punch. A couple of drawbacks with story pacing, and less extra stuff to do like side business, but still, come away from it satisfied and pleased with my time with it. A great game and highly recommended if like me you’ve been introduced to the series this year.
Yakuza kiwami blends the elements of the original Yakuza game plot with the gameplay of Yakuza 0 very well. Adding new plot elements and sight gameplay tweaks which adds up to a very good game. Compared to its predecessor, it's shorter in length and depth, but manages to still be plenty enough, although story pacing can be on the slow side and not technically bulletproof. This doesn’t dampen my opinion that it’s a good game.
- Combat is still madly over the top and exuberant
- A good amount of things to do with side content
- Decent story
- The story can have pacing issues
- Compared to Yakuza 0 it's smaller
- Not perfectly ported/optimized
- Graphics 0
- Gameplay 0
- Narrative 0
- Audio 0
- Technical 0