Name: Yakuza 6: The Song of Life
Platforms: PlayStation 4
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4
Acquired: * A copy of this game was provided from publisher for review purpose*
Yakuza 6: The Song of Life is the seventh game in this action-adventure game series, following the events in the previous game. While it was first released in Japan back in 2016, we only just had the opportunity to experience it in Europe.
In Yakuza 6 you play as Kazuma Kiryu, a Yakuza (a member of organized crime) and the main character of the series. After being arrested and spending several years in prison, Kiryu is a free man. His intentions to live a peaceful life are shattered when his adoptive daughter Haruka goes missing and ends up in a coma. When Kiryu realizes Haruka have had a child, he doesn’t know about, he needs to find out what actually happened during his time in prison.
Yakuza 6: The Song of Life contains numerous twists and turns, the story a dramatic story that could only originate from Asia, giving the game an authentic feel. The number of names, clans and so on is truly overwhelming at times if you haven’t played the previous games. Even though the story in Yakuza 6 is self-containing, a lot of events and people from the previous games are brought up and it might be really confusing. The main menu offers a way to read up what happened in the previous games, but lets face it… Only the really serious gamers will read all of it.
The voice acting in this game should get a prize, there has been no cost held back to make the storytelling as good as absolutely possible – and it shows! The music is phenomenal and perfectly suited to the scenes and again… I can not say this enough… The voice acting!
The graphics in Yakuza 6 is good, but somehow I am left feeling that in 2018 I expect even better. Perhaps it’s the fact that the game actually was released in 2016 that shines through, but the graphics really leaves me unimpressed. Especially when you can notice a dramatic drop in framerate in some cut-scenes and annoying glitches that just should not be there.
A very small example is the menu you get to by pressing the options button, one of the main features of the game. A cellphone appears on the screen (How much did you pay, Sony?) and the icons of the mobile is the different menu sections. Why oh why does the phone have noise around the edges, when it is one of the main features of the game?
The gameplay in Yakuza 6 is quite awesome, but at times it feels restricted. Even though it is open-world with a lot of options as to what you can do, the small part of the city you can actually use is limited by roadworks. It may look large, but it feels very small.
The variation in gameplay, is one of the best points of the game. Tired of fighting gangs and running around the city bumping into yellow cones? Let’s go for Karaoke! Even better, let’s visit one of the numerous arcade halls and play some PuyoPuyo or Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown. Yes, they actually included the entire arcade version of Virtua Fighter 5 in the game. GENIUS!
I can’t really complain about the gameplay in the main game too much, because as I said, it is quite awesome. There is variation, the fighting feels satisfying most of the time, the way you increase your skills are well thought through and there is an award system that gives you a great reason to explore. I just wanted more. I expected more.
Unfortunately, the controls tend to let me down a bit in this game. Where other similar games feel heavy or slow, the controls in Yakuza 6 feels too light, almost… flimsy. It’s either that or Kiryu is very light on his feet… The default camera settings can also be a bit tricky at times, where you have to look around to find the remaining enemy, but this can easily be changed in the settings to suit your own taste.
The fighting feels a lot smoother than in previous installments and where some hardcore fans may miss some elements that could be found in previous games, I think most people will enjoy this a lot more.
This game has enough side quests and activities to enjoy on the side to be quite enjoyable second time around. There will probably be enough unexplored places to check out as well. Even if this is a very story-driven game, I can see myself enjoying the entire experience once more in a year or so.
Yakuza 6: The Song of Life almost delivers everything you could want from a game like this. Heavy action, emotional moments, deep story with almost unmatched narrative and a genuine and authentic atmosphere that is rarely found in games today. Only minor flaws prevent this game from being perfect. Whether you are knocking your enemies around with a motorcycle in your arms, cradling a baby to sleep or singing karaoke, this game delivers.
Replay Value: 9/10
Total Score: 8.5/10
“Amazing – Almost everything is top notch, most likely a must have. If you like Japanese mafia don’t even hesitate! “