It is rare for a game to have me completely and utterly enthralled from the onset, and yet the second I started Yakuza 6 I found myself hooked. Between its intriguing and complex story, and stylized combat that sometimes feels straight from a Kung Fu film. Most importantly Yakuza 6 is very welcoming to newcomers like me, by giving a synopsis of all 5 of the previous games and doing a good job of explaining the past characters and events in-game.
Yakuza 6, from Sega, follows longtime protagonist Kazuma Kiryu as he attempts to uncover the mystery surrounding Haruka, his only family, and her apparent attempted murder. Yakuza 6 tells an engaging story interweaving personal battles with gang warfare and political conspiracy that left me surprised at times and intrigued from start to finish. My only complaint is that it has a tendency to drag on at some sections, but even then, I found myself wanting to see what happens next.
Alongside the main story are little sub-stories, brilliant little mini-stories that are often hilarious and relevant to the changing world. These sub missions are fun little distractions and gives Kiryu the opportunity to show off some of his lighter side, such as when he dresses up as a town mascot to please some kids.
Between the main story, sub-stories, random fights, food places, and mini-game places, the relatively open world of Kamurocho and Onimichi provides players with a wealth of activities, and makes it easy to get distracted as you run from fight to fight and restaurant to restaurant to get EXP for buying new skills or boosting stats or even stopping at Club Sega for a game of Puyo Puyo. The massive variety of activities in the game was astounding and gave the world a lively feeling as I ran through the city through the swaths of people just to engorge myself at Wild Burger after a well-fought battle.
Later on, the game gives you even more to do as it introduces clan battling and baseball, two strategy type side games that let you recruit people for your clan or baseball team through various means. While the baseball side game is a minor one at best, the clan battling has its own story in-game, featuring an incredible cameo fans of New Japan Pro Wrestling will love.
Combat in the game feels like a standard beat-em-up, with Kiryu able to grab items to use as weapons and execute finishing style moves using these items or the environment. Where combat truly shines is its highly stylized and over-the-top nature, especially when fighting bosses. Boss fights are often broken up by little cutscenes where Kiryu and his opponent will trade blows, or he and his allies lay the smackdown on their adversary. Regardless of whether it was a significant Yakuza boss or a lowly thug, getting into fights was a delight, and I found myself welcoming all battles because of it.
Another aspect where Yakuza shines is in its characters. While the story was intriguing, if a little convoluted, the characters involved in the story are easily the highlight of the game. Deep, compelling, and memorable, each character has a clear motivation, personality, and a reason for being there. Yakuza 6 did a fantastic job of making me hate a character one minute, only to make me sympathize with him the next. Best of them all is Kiryu who, despite this being my first experience with him, I have quickly fallen in love with as a character. His honor, respect, and pure badassery easily places him into the spot of one of my favorite characters of all time.
I came into Yakuza 6 not entirely sure what to expect. I had always heard people talk highly of the series, but I never really found myself interested enough to take the plunge. After my experience, I have fallen completely in love, and see myself wanting to go back and play all the previous entries. I hesitate to call this a perfect game, but it comes close, only falling short in its fairly inconsistent story pacing. However, with its intriguing story from start to finish, delightful combat, and the sheer number of side activities Yakuza 6 is not to be missed, and Sega has made a permanent fan out of me. 9.5/10
What do you think, are you excited for Yakuza 6? Let us know in the comments below.