‘Yakuza Kiwami’ offers a chance to jump into ‘Yakuza’ world on current-gen consoles
It’s strange to think of “Yakuza Kiwami,” the remastered version of the 2005 game, as the entry point in the long-running Japanese crime drama “Yakuza” series. For me, that title belongs to “Yakuza 0,” a series prequel released in January 2017. While “0” may be one the series’ later releases (published between the Japanese releases of “Yakuza 5” and “Yakuza 6”), it was the first I played, so it colors my perspective on the series.
The problem with that is that it isn’t particularly fair to “Yakuza Kiwami,” itself a great game rebuilt from the ground up. But when viewed in comparison, I feel that Sega’s “Kiwami” isn’t offering as much as “0” did in terms of game play. However, what can be said so far, being several hours into this new adventure in Kamurocho, is that the game’s crime-drama plot is just as wacky and engrossing as it was in “0,” even if some elements don’t quite line up. (Parts of “Kiwami” were altered to account for the story that occurred in “0.”)
Of course, “Kiwami” is at its core a updated iteration of the first game, and that game was all about series protagonist Kiyru Kazama’s return to civilization about being released from jail after 10 years. Oh, and him trying to figure out who stole 10 billion yen from the Tojo Clan (a powerful yakuza clan that Kiryu and many other important character belong to) while dealing with a little girl who may hold the answer to that mystery.
So far, “Kiwami” plays much the same as “0,” with character control being the biggest change. Instead of controlling two characters — Kiyru and anti-hero/antagonist Goro Majima — as you did in the prequel, you simply control Kiryu this time around. He still has his three basic fightings styles — Brawler, Breaker and Beast — with the ability to unlock his Dragon of Dojima style. To unlock that style, though, you’ll have to face off against Majima in combat, an addition to “Kiwami” to better integrate a prominent character from “0” who didn’t have such a role in the 2005 version. It’s a little odd, especially when you’re ambushed by Majima dressed as a cop, but you’ll get used to it.
At this point, I’m having a grand time with “Yakuza Kiwami,” and I’m excited for the game to open up so I can get to the part that really matters: the substories. I know this game is quite a bit shorter than “0,” but it’s still full of those quirky side quests, and I’m ready to help the people of Kamurocho.
This is a First Impressions of “Yakuza Kiwami” on the PlayStation 4. A full review will follow once the game is completed.