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Yakuza 6: The Song of Life review for PC, Xbox Series X, PS5


Platform: PC
Also On: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One
Publisher: SEGA
Developer: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: 1-2
Online: No
ESRB: M

Kiryu Kazuma has seen enough bloodshed and loss to last a lifetime. He eschewed his life as a member of the Japanese mafia to live peacefully with his ward Haruka, but inexplicably his fate will always be intertwined with the Tojo Clan. After serving jail time on some trumped up charges he returns to Okinawa to find Haruka gone. Haruka chose a life with Kiryu and the Orphanage he ran over a career as an idol (think pop star). The revelation proved to have negative ramifications as the media scrutiny over her familial connection to the legendary yakuza caused stress for all around them. Hoping to not have this scrutiny affect the others, Haruka chooses to leave the orphanage only to return when Kiryu’s sentence is completed. However once his sentence was complete, Kiryu returns to the orphanage to find Haruka has not come back and this incident triggers his last adventure.

Yakuza 6: The Song of Life (our original PS4 review here) was advertised as a swansong for the grey suit clad nigh-invulnerable yakuza. However it is the first title which utilizes the Dragon Engine. This engine is what is partly responsible for the improved visual fidelity, reliance on a physics engine rather than canned animations and seamless entry into stores. The visual fidelity part is most noticeable when a picture of Kiryu and the orphans is presented, the picture shows the models from Yakuza 3 and the disparity between the models from that title and the ones in Yakuza 6 are glaring. The reliance on physics engine for combat means knocking out the enemy won’t result in you seeing enemies knocked to the ground with their ankles practically touching their shoulder (a common scene in Yakuza Kiwami and Zero), however it does mean you’ll see a lot of weird ragdolling and you’ll tougher time grabbing items because the item is likely to explode because your character model brushed up against it a little too hard. Fights are also no longer confined to invisible arenas and you can even bring the action inside the various businesses although do that at your own risk.

The settings for Yakuza 6 are practically a character themselves. Kamurocho, the series stalwart returns once again and it’s always fascinating to just walk around especially if you’re someone who has played other entries of this series. Sadly in this iteration 2 areas are cordoned off and is rendered inaccessible, those two areas are Kamurocho Hills, the luxury complex that rose from the ashes of West Park and the labyrinthian cluster of bars known as the Champion District. While the exclusion is somewhat disappointing, it’s presence is not missed that much. The other area which you will spend your time in is Onomichi. A small port town in Hiroshima, it is the polar opposite of Kamurocho. Subdued and practically desolate at night it makes you miss the conveniences of the gaudy district you are accustomed to. Had a poor showing in a street encounter and you need to buy supplies? Well you better hope it’s night time when a majority of the stores you have access to in Onomichi will be closed.

While starting off as a missing persons story, Kiryu’s final adventure will eventually lead to larger conflicts that will intertwine several criminal organizations and at times will leave your jaws agape or scratching your head. That said, it was riveting enough for me to focus on the main story and ignore the copious side content these games are known to offer. Once the main story was complete I was left with a smorgasbord of content. Returning content like karaoke, darts, mahjong, batting cages are joined by spearfishing, baseball simulation and even a real time strategy gang war minigame featuring wrestlers from New Japan Pro Wrestling.

As a swansong, the RGG team has crafted something that is absolutely befitting of the stoic hero who has carried the series for since 2005. It would’ve been easy to have this be the most bombastic entry of the series and have all the series fan favorites show up, however the fact that a majority of characters involved are mostly new allows you to really focus on Kiryu’s final story. We’re not gonna sugar coat that a new hero has already risen and has held his own, however it is heartening that the series has gotten enough support that it has finally escaped the PlayStation ecosystem and can be enjoyed by gamers everywhere!

Note: Sega provided us with a Yakuza 6: The Song of Life PC code for review purposes.

Grade: A-