If you’re like me, you didn’t get a chance to fall in love with the Yakuza series until recent entries like Yakuza 0. So when SEGA announced its intentions to remake and refine the original games under the titles of Yakuza Kiwami, I was pretty thrilled. The cult hit Japanese soap-opera games have been something of a phenomenon in the decade plus since the series began, and the PC edition of Yakuza Kiwami is a superb entry to the series for those without a console to play on.
One of the chief upgrades Kiwami receives over the original Yakuza from 2005 is a much more versatile and overall enjoyable combat system. Though the first few hours of Yakuza are spent doing a silly and somewhat annoying fetch quest, when the game opens up the combat takes center stage as one of the series’ strongest points.
It’s not too much of a spoiler to say that after a brief introduction, Kiryu winds up in jail for a decade. During this time, it’s a plot device used to describe why you lose much of his power and must gain it back and climb the ladder through the criminal underground. Kiryu may be a Yakuza, but he wants to be like… a good guy Yakuza. One who reigns with kindness and honor, not madness and torture. Basically, he won’t eff with you if you don’t eff with him. Kiryu was doing the John Wick thing with his fists long before Keanu was doing it with his Glocks.
While there’s a whole lot of content here, series vets will note that it’s still “bare” compared to the recent Yakuza offerings Yakuza 0 and Song of Life. Still, there’s a solid 40 hours or more of content here, and at a lower cost than the industry standard $60, that’s nothing to scoff at. Just know that newer games have even more to chew on.
There are still tons of side missions that tell the stories and often hilarious antics of the world’s characters, and there’s even a strange-as-is-fitting female wrestling game that’s thrown in for good measure. Yakuza games have long been known for not only their sweeping dramatic stories, but also for their tons of side-activities that are often fun enough to spend hours with. Karaoke is one hell of a funny and fun rhythm game, for example.
For PC enthusiasts, all the bells and whistles are there as Kiwami is optimized for PC with 4K resolutions, uncapped framerates, customizable controls and ultra-widescreen support. But it still plays best with the controller, as the game even warns when loading up. Mind you, KB and Mouse support is there, but it just doesn’t feel as good or natural as controller.
If Yakuza Kiwami tells the story of how Nishi and Kiryu went down much different paths, and Yakuza 0 tells the story of them growing up in the Yakuza together, you may wish to play 0 before diving into Kiwami. The good thing is that both games are under $20 on Steam, and well worth the price with dozens of hours of fantastic content to delve into. Here’s hoping Kiwami 2 makes it way here soon.