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Yakuza 6: The Song of Life Review

Purchased product for this review.

It’s always never easy to end a story and it’s the same way when it comes to video games. Last year, SEGA celebrated Yakuza’s 10th anniversary with the release of a prequel called Yakuza 0, a remake of the first game as Yakuza Kiwami and the announcement of an all-new Yakuza game. Come 2018 and the new Yakuza game arrives, serving as a final chapter to Kiryu’s story called Yakuza 6: The Song of Life. Its theme is of family and how far one would go for family. Does this game serve as a farewell to a recognizable hero or come down as a fall from grace?

Yakuza, or Ryu Ga Gotoku, has always been known for it’s story, characters and gameplay and this game is no exception. The story takes place 4 years after the events of Yakuza 5. Kiryu returns to Kamurocho after serving time in prison but something seems off. Haruka is nowhere to be found and the only clue that he can find of his whereabouts is a young baby boy named Haruto. If that isn’t enough, Kiryu becomes the target of a rival clan. It’s up to Kiryu to find Haruka, protect the boy Haruto and find out what’s really happening. But what he’ll discover will lead him to a secret that may bring Japan to ruin.

From my own personal experience, the story is great. I was hooked to see how it would play out and how they would handle Kiryu’s final tale. There are some twists and turns that do surprise me at times and the ending is one it’s best you see for yourself. You will be in tears by the time it’s over. I am a bit bummed that some characters aren’t in this game but it’s mostly for the sake of the game’s plot. Not much anyone can do.

If you played any of the games in the Yakuza series, you will feel right at home with this game. Kiryu is the only playable character in this game and don’t worry, he’s just as good as you remember, if not better. Yakuza 6 is an action RPG game where you go through the story, complete side quests and take part in activities that can offer plenty to do. Yes. Yakuza games always deliver in terms of content. As for Kiryu, he kicks butt just as you’d expect and this time he’s packing new tricks up his sleeve. Instead of multiple styles, he has only one style that offers a mix giving him offense and defense. Not only that but he has access to a heat gauge that fills up as you deal damage to enemies. When it’s full, Kiryu can go into a powered-up state called Extreme Heat Mode that gives him access to stronger attacks. The heat gauge can also be used for Kiryu to pull off flashy attacks. It offers him versatility and how it goes depend on the player.

Since it’s an action RPG, players need to level Kiryu up and they do so in a variety of ways. Kiryu can obtain experience points that are split into 5 categories: Strength, Agility, Spirit, Technique and Charm. You get experience by completing various activities whether it is the main story missions, sub missions, eating or even awards. The experience you acquire go towards four categories: Stats, Battle Skils, Heat Actions & Other Skills and depending on the player can have Kiryu be upgraded however they wish. It offers a lot of versatility for players and in some ways, a necessity in order to go through the game itself.

There is a lot to do in Yakuza 6. In addition to the city of Kamurocho, Kiryu also has access to the small town of Onomichi. Each of the areas offers many activities and missions to take part in. Kamurocho has access to places like arcades, hostess clubs, a gym, karaoke, online chat rooms, etc. It has a lot and it shows and Onomichi is no slouch either with its fair share of mini games like spear fishing and baseball. Yakuza 6 also gives us Clan Creator, a tower-defense like mini game that has you using a group of units to take down enemy groups. They are short but is very useful if you want to grind for yen, the game’s currency. There are also sub missions that show the daily life of both areas including some that are familiar but also surprising. One example being a quest where you must unite a bunch of people together to form a baseball team. For length, beating the main story will take you around 15-20 hours to complete, as it’s 12 chapters long but the side content extends the length to a lot more. Premium Adventure returns, letting players complete anything they missed out on and New Game+ with its Very Hard difficulty extends it further while testing players. You are getting a lot for your money’s worth and it shows.

The game plays great and it also looks great too. SEGA decided to incorporate a new engine for the game, the Dragon Engine. This allows Yakuza 6 to run seamlessly at 1080p with a stunning 60 fps. Not only that but battles also is seamless too. Compared to games like Yakuza 0 and Kiwami where battles start as enemies meet you, here once enemies spot you and race to you, it happens immediately and they end the same way as well. It’s well done. Voice acting is what you come to expect for a Yakuza game and it’s great. There is no English dub sadly but it shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the game. Music is awesome too with many great tracks, especially some that contend with boss battles. There are bosses in the game and they are without a doubt challenging. Plus it makes it all the more satisfying when you beat them too.

If I had any nitpicks, it’s that the game really does emphasize grinding. If you plan to max out Kiryu, it’s essential and thankfully there are plenty of opportunities to do so but players won’t be able to max out Kiryu completely unless they spend a lot of time on the game. Also Kiryu is the only playable character and it’s sad that we don’t get to play with anyone else. Characters like Shun Akiyama and Goro Majima are mostly relegated for the sake of the plot. But it’s Kiryu’s last tale so basically all the focus is on him and him alone.

Yakuza 6 serves as the final tale for Kazuma Kiryu and it holds up really well. The game not only looks amazing but plays amazing too, offering something new while feeling familiar. It’ll challenge you don’t get me wrong but by the time you are finished, you can’t help but feel good and wanting more. With SEGA announcing a spin-off entitled Judgment, it will not be the end of the Yakuza series. Far from it, to be honest. This is Kiryu’s last tale and it’s one you do not want to miss out on.

I give Yakuza 6 a solid 9 out of 10. It earns my personal seal of approval. A must-buy.