Played and reviewed on PC (Steam)
If you love brawlers or Beat 'em-up type of games, then look no further. Yakuza Kiwami is the game you should be playing. It is an action-adventure story-rich RPG, developed by Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio and published by Sega. It was released on January 21 in 2016 for PlayStation 3 & PlayStation 4 and February 19 in 2019 for Steam. It is a remake of the original Yakuza, which was released for PlayStation 2 in 2005. It is also the sequel of Yakuza 0.
The game follows the story of Kazuma Kiryu, the main protagonist of the game. He is a Yakuza. The year is 1995. Kiryu's sworn brother Akira Nishikiyama, formally known as Nishiki murders the Yakuza boss Sohei Dojima. To save his best friend, Kiryu accepts the blame for the murder. Because of this, he is sentenced to 10 years in prison. He is demoted from his clan after taking the blame for his boss's murder during his incarceration. In 2005, a decade later when he is released from prison, he learns that ten billion yen has been stolen from the Tojo Clan's coffers.
Kiryu's childhood friend Yumi Sawamura is mysteriously missing from the hospital. Shintaro Kazama is in command of the Dojima Family after the death of Sohei Dojima. Kiryu asks him about Yumi's disappearance. He then reveals that Yumi was connected to the lost money. Nishiki shoots him afterwards. Kiryu then has to escape from the Tojo, who now regards him as an enemy. Detective Makoto Date helps Kiryu to escape from the Tojo.
The story is complicated, deep, and emotional but easy to follow. The main campaign is about 18-20 hours long.
One of the things that Kiwami does extremely better than the original is the gameplay mechanism. It's very smooth and satisfying to beat enemies compared to the classic Yakuza. Kiryu has four different fighting styles which he can change between frequently during combat. The styles are : Brawler, Beast, Rush, and Dragon. Brawler is the basic fighting style, Beast is powerful but slow fighting style, Rush is low damage but fast fighting style, and Dragon is the signature style. The game features a great level progression system. Each level you gain gives you one ability point to use to unlock abilities. There are four different areas to upgrade. Soul, Tech, and Body can be upgraded at any time except the Dragon style, it is upgradable only through the Majima Everywhere encounters. You can get both money and experience points by defeating enemies or saving NPCs. Money can be spent to buy various in-game items or to play mini-games. Experience points can be used to level up Kiryu's skills.
The game also features various mini-games. Such as Bowling, Pocket Circuit, Pool, UFO Catcher, Darts, Underground Coliseum, Karaoke, and MesuKing.
PROS AND CONS
Before you buy, let's talk about the pros and cons first. The story of Yakuza Kiwami is extremely well-written and detailed. The gameplay mechanics are flexible. Combat is very satisfying, similar to Yakuza 0. Graphics/Animations are really good, if not the best. On the negative side, the game is small compared to other games in the series. Also, Majima's infrequent appearances will slowly become repetitive from time to time. Despite all that, it still is a remarkable game.
Yakuza Kiwami is a faithful remake of the classic Yakuza. It reintroduces the plot exactly like the original game, except this time, it's running on a next-gen engine. Even the in-game cutscenes are shot-by-shot recreations of the original. On top of that, the game has improved in almost every aspect. From graphics/animations to gameplay mechanics, everything about this game is top quality. It's a straightforward recreation without a doubt. Though it's not the best game in the series, it definitely is a well-made game and worth a buy. But, if you're a newcomer, you should play Yakuza 0 before playing Kiwami. It'll greatly help you to understand the characters and the beginning of the series.