Originally released in Japan on 8th December 2016, the sixth instalment to the now successful and adorned action franchise enjoyed success thanks to a localisation for Western audiences on April 17th2018. The Yakuza franchise has seen a recent resurgence in the West over the past two years thanks to the success of Yakuza 0, and will also see three remasters in the future.
Having finally acquired and completed Yakuza 6, I was left satisfied with most aspects of the game. This was touted as the end for Kiryu Kazuma’s time in the franchise spotlight, and as such had to deliver a satisfying and conclusive narrative, this meant tightening the story focus back to just Kiryu as opposed to three or four others. Doing this really helped the game to feel less flabby and less content felt like filler. The characters, new and recurring all proved to be memorable and likeable, especially Kiryu’s new chums from the Hirose family (including a character played by legendary actor Beat Takeshi Kitano.) Old favourites like Date, Akiyama and even substory staples like Pocket Circuit Fighter made appearances which helped to drive the sense of finality in Yakuza 6.
Gameplay wise Sega used a new engine for this entry, and as such it comes with some noticeable improvements. A good example of this is the lack of load times when entering buildings and performing certain tasks, as it helped to make Yakuza 6 more immersive, and likely shaved around 2 hours of game time in the process. When it came to fighting mechanics, Kiryu is only given one this time around, and for a 48-year-old he still packs a punch. The revamped upgrade system encourages more encounters and also trying various foods from different restaurants, since different dishes provide stat boosts that contribute towards improving health, defence, stamina, and even means of making certain substories easier, such as the raunchy Live Chat simulator and chatting to locals in a bar. The variety in substories was an improvement over 4 and 5, with more wackiness and even bigger stakes like managing a baseball team and the clan simulator (which I cheesed by looking up codes for the strongest fighters and therefore aced all the key missions in under an hour.)
The only real frustration I had was with a post-game boss that was beyond cheap, and a cat locating quest that took a lot of time due to low spawn rates. Overall this was one of the stronger entries, and despite what some have said was a good way to conclude Kiryu’s storyline, who knows he may appear in 7 alongside the new main character-but that’s up to Sega.
Overall Rating: 4/5
By HW Reynolds
Images Provided by Sega