Title: Yakuza: Kiwami 2
Genre: Action, Role Playing Game, RPG
Platform: Steam PC
Audience: PEGI 18
Release Date: 09/05/19
Price: £24.99 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
What the Developers say
Kazuma Kiryu, the Dragon of Dojima, must face the ambitious Ryuji Goda, the Dragon of Kansai, in an all-out war between two rival yakuza clans. An extreme recreation of one of Yakuza’s most beloved entries, now in stunning 4K and unlocked framerates. There can be only one dragon.
The Yakuza series started on the PlayStation 2 back in 2006. Sadly the series stayed Playstation exclusive for seven years. After a failed attempt to bring the series to new audiences in 2013 on the Wii U, I never thought I’d get a chance to play the series. Then seemingly out of nowhere, the series started releasing on Windows. Excited at the chance to play a game from the series finally, I jumped at the opportunity. It did not disappoint.
Gameplay & Replayability
Yakuza: Kiwami 2 excels in the gameplay department. There is so much to do on top of the main story. The Yakuza series is known for being loaded with side quests and, and while I still think Yakuza 0 is the king in this regard, Kiwami 2 has more than enough to keep you playing for a very long time. The mini-games include arcade machines that happen to allow you to play classic Sega titles, and there are even crane machines. Other mini-games include classic board and card games, optional street fights, and also running your own cabaret club and pitting it against rivals in a contest.
Even if you need a break from the main elements of gameplay, you won’t find a shortage of options. While you have a companion character following you, I did find one thing incredibly annoying. Whenever I hit a button, and she was near, she would repeat the same dialogue every time freezing my gameplay experience. It got annoying at times but was by no means even close to a deal breaker.
The more central portion of the gameplay revolves around combat. This system isn’t as open-ended as Yakuza 0, but despite that, I found plenty to enjoy here. You start with a weak and strong attack, as well as a grab. But as you progress, you gain experience through combat as well as eating. There are tons of places to get a bite to eat, and I enjoyed visiting the different restaurants to see what was on the menu.
You have a hunger gauge and have to pick food that both gives you experience in the attribute you want as well as satisfying your stomach. Once you grind enough experience in the five different attributes you can level, you can either increase those attribute points or add new skills associated with those attributes. Add the fact that you can pick up and use or stash weapons for later in your inventory and you have just enough combat depth to keep it both engaging and fresh.
I’m torn on the replayability of this game. On the one hand, the game has so much good content, and I’m willing to do it again. On the other hand, I can’t see an additional playthrough as being significantly different aside from maybe picking up a few side quests that I missed the first time, but believe me I tried to find everything and anything I could for this review. When you consider the amount of content present in this game, you can quickly push 40 or more hours so even if you aren’t tempted to revisit it immediately, you’ll still find a lot of value here even with just one playthrough.
Audio & Visual
The audio in this game is fantastic. I’ve watched playthroughs of previous titles and the Yakuza series seemingly always delivers. While wandering the streets, you’ll notice quickly how alive they feel. Yakuza: Kiwami 2 is smaller in scope than many other open-world style games, but this allows the developers to pack more detail into every aspect of the game. As you walk by, you may hear conversations between two NPCs (sometimes having the option to jump into it) as well as ambient background sounds. It’s a nice touch that makes this a believable environment.
I applaud the series for keeping the voice acting Japanese. This might be a turn off for some people because it requires that you read subtitles, but the voice cast is nothing short of fantastic. Most of the characters that appear in multiple games are voiced by the same person every title (minus 2006’s English release, which did have big names attached like Mark Hamill). This experience and consistency really show as all the characters are portrayed believably. Since these characters are in Japan, it made for a far more natural experience.
The music is equally impressive. Every time you run into a random gang (thugs, delinquents, Yakuza, etc.), you get an alert sound once you are spotted, then a very upbeat and appropriate battle track. That’s just a single example of the great musical score in this game. If I don’t enjoy the music in a game, I’ll turn the volume on it down, but there was no point in this game I felt like doing so. The music never takes centre stage instead of acting like an extension of the experience.
The visuals are not AAA title worthy, but they are still excellent. Again due to the smaller scale, they can add a fantastic amount of detail to both interior environments and exterior. Open world games often feel sparse when you enter an interior level, yet this game has more than enough to make the world feel believable regardless of where you are. The NPC characters look good, but the main cast looks great. It’s evident after working with the same characters for a long time, and the developers are passionate about their characters. The game has a good amount of polish.
While the combat is good, it’s the fact that this game offers so much more when it probably didn’t have to that makes it stand out much like other recent entries of the series. There is a good amount of variety here from a gameplay perspective, and the majority of it is done very well. The audio and visuals deliver just as the last few entries have done, but the game also tells an engaging story.
Since I hadn’t played Kiwami 1 and watched a playthrough of Yakuza 0 when it first released, I found myself a bit lost a few times during dialogue between some characters but it never left me completely lost. The cinematics were good enough to keep me engaged, regardless. I’ve waited years to play a Yakuza game, and Yakuza: Kiwami 2 did not disappoint. This game is a steal at its release price on PC.
If you are a fan of “beat ’em ups,” mini-games, and an engaging story I’d highly recommend picking this game up. Consider, before you do, playing Yakuza 0 and Kiwami 1 first to get the most of the story.
Rapid Reviews UK Rating
You can purchase Yakuza: Kiwami 2, using the Steam link below.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.