Yakuza 6: The Song of Life (“Yakuza 6”) is an action-adventure game developed by SEGA and is the seventh title in the popular Yakuza video game series. Having not played any of the previous games, I was hesitant to pick up the title but the Japanese content had me intrigued.
This review comes from the point of view of a beginner, or rather, a noob gamer, who despite playing a variety of games regularly, isn’t all that good. It’s the one challenge I face when reviewing games, though the majority of story based games are fairly easy to analyse and write about.
Yakuza 6 brings the story of famed Yakuza member Kazuma Kiryu to a close. Right from the get go, we are introduced to Kiryu’s story briefly, something that newbies to the series will appreciate as the game sets itself up as playable regardless of whether you’ve played the previous games.
Cutscenes are a plenty in the game, something that can be both a hit or miss. While necessary in order to drive the plot and tell the game’s story, the cutscenes and large amount of dialogue was just a bit too much for my liking. The mystery in the main plot was intriguing, yes, but the amount of time it took pressing the ‘X’ button to cycle through the dialogue or skipping cutscenes to get to the point was rather dull. When it comes to video games, I can be rather impatient and prefer a faster pacing of gameplay. I thoroughly enjoy story based games but when it comes to those that almost act like visual novels, I just don’t have the time or patience. Unfortunately, Yakuza 6 took far too long to get me excited and because I hadn’t played the previous games, I felt no kinship for any of the characters or the story.
Though the cutscenes and dialogue were a miss for me, I did enjoy the open-world exploration and arcade style combat. Fighting off baddies was rather fun as it felt very similar to playing old Street Fighter and Virtua Fighter like games. In fact, there is actually a mode that allows you to play a co-op version of Virtua Fighter and Puyo Puyo in Yakuza 6, though I didn’t get a chance to try this at the time of writing this review.
There are several mini games within the larger game that is quite entertaining and keeps the game feeling fresh. There are several light-hearted fun games such as darts, karaoke (which is pretty funny) and arcade games, but these are nothing compared to the bigger ‘mini’ games that allow you to earn currency, such as spearfishing, clan creator and baseball.
These mini games all add to the overall fun of Yakuza 6, which saves players from just having to sit through cutscenes galore. Had the mini games not been included, I probably would have gone stir crazy. Again, the story was intriguing, but the length of each character’s dialogue and the cutscenes were off putting.
Gameplay is fairly easy to pick up as there are in game guides and tutorials to help you with tasks, along with little in game tip notifications that act to help you along. This makes the game so much more newbie friendly, which is often what I look for in the games I play.
Visually, the game was rather captivating. I especially loved exploring Tokyo with the bright colours and roads filled with culture. It was amazing to see so many realistic looking buildings, points of interest and even vending machines laid out throughout each street. It was necessary to purchase drinks from the vending machines to keep up Kiryu’s stamina and I was taken aback at how very real all the drink bottles looked. Having been to Japan myself and purchased drinks from vending machines, I enjoyed seeing the familiar Vitamin C drink that I had consumed on my holiday.
I also loved the kind of title cards used to introduce each character and location. The font and art style was very much akin to those in an action-packed anime, which caught my attention. Again, I attribute my enjoyment of the visuals to my love of the Japanese culture.
I couldn’t get into Yakuza 6 as much as I would have liked. Not that the game was dull or uninteresting, but more so because I prefer a faster pace in my games. Visual novels are generally not my kind of thing and so having to sit through long cutscenes and dialogue between characters I had no kinship with, having not played the previous games, kept me from really getting the most of the game, though I did find some enjoyment in the mini games. For those who have played all the previous Yakuza games, this one’s a no brainer and comes recommended as it marks the end of Kazuma Kiryu’s story. For those who are new to the series, Yakuza 6 is playable as it does provide a gist of the full story, however, be warned that you may end up feeling like I did.
P.S: Yes, there’s a baby in this game and yes, he’s absolutely adorable and is by far one of the better video game babies out there.