Before I played this game I thought it was going to be a GTA ripoff set in Japan, where you do embarrassing side missions involving hostesses.

Well it’s not GTA. Yakuza is a JRPG. Except instead of fighting by using menus, you fight by using fighting. You also do embarrassing side missions involving hostesses.

I usually mash through video game stories, but I liked the characters in this one. I don’t know if the story is ‘good’ but it’s delivered energetically and moves fast.

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I knew the Yakuza series are well known for their mini-games. Even with my bias they still surprised me with their small details and fun.

Darts? fun, bowling? fun, batting cages? very fun, slot cars? super fun. Even the ones I didn’t find as fun have great animations and are lovingly detailed.

Then you have all the gambling games which are fun too. I didn’t gamble that much because I got all my money from beating up people.

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At first the fighting system seemed simplistic and not fun, then I understood it and it became extremely fun, then it trailed off in the late game.

I think it’s because the most useful skills are unlocked by the middle of the game. The late game skills were not as useful and didn’t change the way I fought (normal difficulty).

Also you get Kiryu’s forgotten ‘Dragon’ fighting style so late into the game on normal playing that it might as well be for NG+ only.

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The game makes no concessions for western sensibilities. It’s like a window into a Japanese mind and psyche. The voice acting is great with absurd dialog delivered completely straight.

As soon as it all clicked for me (somewhere around chapter 3) I couldn’t stop playing. I kept discovering more of the game until it was nearly over.

When I beat the game I wanted to play more, and was glad to find there are 6 main games, 2 remakes, 1 prequel, and a Fist of the North Star offshoot. That’s a pretty good endorsement for the game and the series to me.

Yakuza Kiwami (PS4 2016)

82/100