The Dragon of Dojima is back in Yakuza Kiwami
Yakuza Kiwami is a remake of the PlayStation 2 original game. The Yakuza series has been a fan favourite in Japan for many years. However, it has seen its share of struggles to gain popularity outside of Japan.
Earlier this year, we were treated to Yakuza 0. The game was an open invitation to the Yakuza series for Western gamers. Something we could jump into without ever having played a game in the series. Read Paul’s review of Yakuza 0 and see why it’s too good to miss.
Yakuza Kiwami is the pseudo sequel to Yakuza 0. It retells the story of the original game with updated graphics, gameplay enhancements, and extra content.
Platform: PlayStation 4
ESRB Rating: M (Mature 17+)
A story of hardships, brawls, and betrayals
Yakuza Kiwami does a great job of picking up where Yakuza 0 left off. You play as Kazuma Kiryu, an ex Yakuza. Involved in Yakuza affairs, he is a good-hearted bad boy with a stony grimace. Who, consequently, has earned the nickname the Dragon of Dojima.
Kiryu finds himself dead centre in a Yakuza coup. Where the line between ally and enemy is heavily frayed. Kiwami is a story that is equal parts political thriller and personal drama. The story often places characters in heart-wrenching dilemmas of morality versus tradition.
The game begins in the year 1995. After plenty of hard work, Kazuma Kiryu is an up-and-coming Yakuza. One night his childhood friend, Yumi, is kidnapped by Sohei Dojima. Kiryu’s best friend Akira quickly follows suit after them.
Shortly later, Kiryu finds his best friend holding a gun over the dead body of Dojima. Pressed with what to do, Kiryu takes the blame and is sentenced to prison. Now, 10 years later, both the Tojo clan and his best friend have changed.
10 Billion yen has been stolen from the clan, and war has erupted in the streets of Kamurocho. To make matters worse, Yumi has gone missing. Kiryu sets out to find Yumi and the stolen money.
Familiar gameplay updated for today’s gamer
Exploring Kamurocho feels like returning to your hometown after being gone for several years. Many of your favourite hangout spots are here, such as the over packed corner store and the swanky members-only bar.
However, there are new additions to the neighbourhood as well. For example, the Millennium Tower. It’s a sparkling skyscraper that was built largely because of your actions in Yakuza 0. Even though Yakuza Kiwami is heavily based on the first game, it felt more like a continuation, rather than a whole new game.
I feel, that it is a testament to Zero’s storytelling, and speaks to the accessibility of the series. Either way, Yakuza Kiwami excels at the primary job of being a remake. It makes a classic gaming experience more enjoyable for today’s gamer.
Gameplay has been updated. You can now choose among several different combat styles. Brawler is a balanced class and Rush is a fast and speedy class. While, Dragon is a more technical class and Beast is a slow and stronger attack class. Your enemies come at you at all different varying abilities and classes. So, make sure to balance your combat styles.
Lots of things to see in do with characters you won’t soon forget
What I like best about Yakuza Kiwami, are the variety of things you can do. You’ll find story checkpoints with long scripted encounters and cutscenes. And, you’ll also find that there is plenty of room for exploring. You can bowl a few frames, practice your batting, or compete on the Pocket Racer Circuit.
It’s safe to say, you’ll never be starved for entertainment. In some ways, the Yakuza series is about being part of something larger. Most of the time that comes through by watching Kiryu struggle to maintain his deep sense of loyalty to his friends, family, and clan. Sadly, this is often at his own expense.
I loved walkting through the streets of Kamurocho. Meeting all sorts of people and helping them through their troubles brought a deep sense of bonding with complete strangers. From the female hostess owner who isn’t sure how to handle her rowdiest customers, to the corporate suite turned suicidal because of a missing briefcase. Every sidequest is constructed to display the depth and complexity of being human.
Most games populate their spaces with forgettable or one-dimensional NPCs. However, Yakuza Kiwami contains characters that have complex motivations, and who make difficult choices. Through that struggle, the characters become real. Kiwami becomes a compelling game about the people around Kiryu.
A beautifully looking game
Although Yakuza Kiwami is a remake of a game a PlayStation 2 game, you would never know it. The game uses the same graphics engine from Yakuza 0, and looks absolutely beautiful. And, it runs at a full 1080p with 60fps to boot.
Yakuza Kiwami on the PlayStation 4 has around 30 minutes of extra cutscenes and plot. This goes to help bridge the gap between Yakuza 0 and Yakuza Kiwami. Furthermore, the audio of the Japanese cast has been redone and sounds fantastic.
I highly recommend Yakuza Kiwami. Even if you have never played a Yakuza game before, you will want to play. It includes all the content from the original release and has added content to make the experience more enjoyable.
The game rewards you with an entertaining story and gameplay to back it up. My only gripe is that the combat depth wears thin pretty quickly. At its value price, you simply can’t go wrong. Take a chance on this popular Japanese series, you won’t be disappointed.
+ A captivating story
+ Memorable characters
+ Interesting and varied sidequests
+ Authentic and detailed world
– Fighting can get repetitive after a while
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4.5/5