There’s a beauty to the Yakuza games. The direction of their cutscenes, that wince of pain you feel as you knock out an enemy, the daft sense of humour that can’t help but make you smile. Behind all that though there’s an extremely interesting story that has been getting built upon since the release of the first game in 2005. That’s over ten years ago now and many gamers haven’t had the chance to play it. Step up Yakuza Kiwami. A remake of the original game that adds to it the visual flair of later titles and much more.

Kazuma Kiryu finds himself in a predicament. A predicament that quickly escalates and sees him trying to piece things back together. Despite his obvious leaning towards crime, he’s a good man and an instantly likeable protagonist, even to series newcomers. It helps that he also packs a mean punch (and kick) to make him also extremely fun to play as. At first your moves and combos will be fairly repetitive. There’s four styles of combat to choose from, but some are definitely more effective than others.

Luckily certain enemies will make you mix it up a bit. Some by being lightning fast and some by being brutal with the strength of their attacks. As you defeat them you’ll gain experience points which can be put to good use in levelling up Kiryu to have more combos, moves and more. It will make you want to get into a fight just to test out your new abilities.

Luckily there isn’t a shortage of fights. As you run through the streets trying to get to the next quest point there will be a variety of people that try to stop you, ranging from no good street punks to vengeful yakuza members. The likeable antagonist Goro Majima also pops up in Kiwami much more due to the Majima Anywhere feature. The battles are tougher than your average street foe and the cutscenes surrounding them are usually hilarious.

Unfortunately it is sometimes at odds with the overall narrative of the game though. Majima is obsessed with Kiryu, but depending on when you trigger a Majima Anywhere moment, it can be confusing as to why he’s actually there. It’s a small issue, as are most of them with the game. The combat can get repetitive at times, the pacing of some quests can feel a bit off and the lack of an English voice over option will put off some potential players, but luckily these issues all feel minor.

The story told throughout the game is intriguing and will make you want to keep playing on to find out what happens next. There’s plenty of things to do as side quests if you feel you want a break from the main story as well as games to play like slot car racing and darts. On top of that there’s several of challenges in the game that you’ll be rewarded for (such as talking to a certain amount of people or walking a certain distance, etc). Everything is helped by the fact that most of the things that aren’t part of the main story are just as fun, meaning they rarely feel like a chore.

If you’ve never played a Yakuza game before then Yakuza Kiwami is a great place to start. Things hold a bit more of an impact if you have played Yakuza 0 but it won’t lessen your enjoyment of the game by any means. I felt it got the ball rolling a lot quicker than Yakuza 0, letting you fight opponents and explore places much sooner. Overall though, when you compare the two games, Kiwami is the slightly weaker of the two. That is, however, more a testament to how strong a game Yakuza 0 is though, because Kiwami is still an absolute cracker. If you’re in the mood for a brawler to sink your teeth into or just want to play a game focused on crime that is different to your usual Grand Theft Auto styled game, then Yakuza Kiwami is definitely worth your time. Especially if you’ve never played it before.


Brett Claxton

I like video games. That's why I write about them. I've played them for years and in that time I've found a love for creepy horrors, indie darlings and the oddities that come out of Japan. Although my main purpose on the site is to write up news and reviews I'm also one of the main Let's Play video creators of the team (or, as I call them, Brett's Play videos). You can check them out here: