Yakuza Kiwami Review – A Beautiful Touch Up

It has been 12 years since the original Yakuza game hit the Playstation 2. The series has seen a total of seven games in the main series, and Yakuza Kiwami marks the rebirth of the series original title on the Playstation 4, with the subsequent titles to follow suit. The big question is, of course; Does Toshihiro Nagoshi’s epic translate over to the PS4 with ease or is it more of a bumpy ride?

Yakuza Kiwami
Publisher: Sega
Developer: Sega
Platform: Playstation 4
Release Date: August 29, 2017
Players: 1
Price: $29.99 

This is a review coupled with a supplemental video review. You can watch the video review above, or read the full review of the game below.

Right off the bat, Yakuza Kiwami looks amazing, and it should. With the release of Yakuza 0, there were a whole hell of a lot of assets available to remake the original Yakuza into Kiwami. Now while I know the game should look amazing, it was a bit of a shock to me that the game looks as good as it does. We are talking about AAA graphics for at aprice tag of just $30. They could have easily sold the game for $60, and I honestly would not have batted an eye.

Character details are crisp and stylized, while also steering more towards hyper realistic. This allows the game not only to stand the test of time visually but keeps it out of the uncanny valley that strict photorealism can create; which often serves as a real turnoff for players.

One thing to note is just how much attention to detail the game provides: a really good example of this is with interactions that occur while walking through the world. They took the time to map out the voice acting to every character who is speaking. It could have been ease to skip this as you almost never see the front of your protagonists face, while walking around the city, but they made sure that the characters were mapped correctly in all interactions; whether you see them or not.

Gameplay has been cleaned up from the original, and those who played Yakuza 0 will feel right at home. On that note: if you have already played Yakuza 0, the game will recognize this and give you a small token item which is a nice nod to your past play history.

Combat is fluid and easy to master, though the overall gameplay is still extremely challenging if you are not prepared. Yakuza Kiwami, like the previous titles, allows you to restart fights on death. This gets you back into the action quickly, so you can make another attempt at crushing your opponents skull in.

The experience and leveling up system allows players to customize their personal playstyle to the fullest. There are four main play styles: three standard and one that is a sort of bonus style, which can become very powerful if you really put your time into it. All playstyles feel very well balanced while being extremely different in nature, allowing players to change up the way they play on the fly if they feel a particular style is just not working for them.

Yakuza Kiwami also hosts a plethora of mini games that players can get lost in. One stand out is the Mesuking card mini game: which not only serves as a fun aside, but a hilarious side story about young kids making friends and learning lessons though a game that features scantily clad big booby women themed after different bugs. Complete with a side helping of jiggle physics, of course.

Yakuza Kiwami really ups the game when it comes to sound and music compared to its original release. The team behind Kiwami really put in the effort to make the town feel alive with the different sites and sounds of the city, while inserting music to match the mood of the game at just the right moments.

General sound design is very well mapped, and visceral. Every punch, stab and gunshot holds weight, especially when they land or when used in a special heat attack. This combination of music and sound design brings a certain excitement to all fights, be it epic plot points or street brawls.

The story of Yakuza Kiwami is not a 100% translation of the original Yakuza game. Additional content has been included to help explain some plot point issues that the original had, mostly because of limitations with the system it was originally released on. There were also some additions made to help better tie this game into Yakuza 0.

All of these additions are way beyond worth it for new and old fans alike. With that said, they did not make it so you would have to play Yakuza 0 to understand Yakuza Kiwami, but I would say that it will definitely be worth it to play Yakuza 0 before Kiwami: as it tends to dive deeper into the relationships between the protagonist Kiryu Kazuma and his once sworn brother, Nichikiyama Akira.

The story, even after 12 years, stands the test of time: filled with brilliant character developments and interesting plot points. Kazuma, taking the fall for his closest friend Nichiki, who ends up killing their boss to save their childhood friend Yumi from being raped: leading to a series of events that will destroy who they are and change them forever. The story is powerful, heartbreaking and able to reach it’s highs and lows because of how well they tend to balance the humor and humility into the series in general.

Yakuza Kiwami in an amazing remake. Not only did they take the time to polish the game for current generation hardware, but they also took the time to see the flaws that the original game had and obliterate them to make a more perfect product. It goes without saying that you should pick this title up, but you might also want to pick up Yakuza 0 to enhance your experience. Hands down this is a must own.

Yakuza Kiwami was reviewed on Playstation 4 using a review copy received from Sega. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.

The Verdict: 10

The Good:

  • Amazing story that sparked a series.
  • Well balanced Gameplay.
  • Visceral and beautiful Sound design.
  • Great art and graphics.
  • AAA experience for $30
  • Great mini games that help break up the heavier story plot points.
  • Amazing world building.


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