Gamers are gradually welcoming the Yakuza series throughout the world, which is presumably why you're here seeking the finest Yakuza games. This year, a new generation of gamers were able to pick up the story of Kazuma Kiryu and experience what all the (well-deserved) hoopla is about with the excellent localization of Yakuza 0.
Each game is loaded to the overflowing with punchlines and pumped with a gameplay loop that'll keep you captivated from the minute you pick up the pads. The entire series is topped off with production qualities that'll have you nodding softly in awe, whether you're going to pick up one of the older entries in the series or one of the more current remasters.
You'll come for the dramatics that underpin each of the game's plots, and you'll stay for the astonishingly complex metropolitan landscapes each title introduces you to. The series has gone a long way since it was initially presented to western audiences in 2006, and we're here to review the worst to the finest Yakuza games in the series.
The debut Yakuza game was published in the West in 2005, and its crime plot remains as gripping today as it was then. However, as the series's initial installment, it is regarded as a gem in the dirt, especially now that a remake is available.
Additionally, the game was fully voiced in English. Even though the performances were not horrible, the dialogue was criticized for being unduly westernized compared to the original Japanese release. Additionally, it is the only game in the mainstream series that has been localized in this manner, which makes it feel strange.
Yakuza: Dead Souls (2012)
Kiryu may be a Byronic hero to many, but Kamurocho, the series' second most recognizable element, is what most people associate with the Yakuza series as a whole. Kabukicho, a Shinjuku suburb, served as inspiration. Yakuza as a series manages to make the area feel like a virtual home away from home for players who have faithfully followed the games since their inception.
So it was simply a matter of time until SEGA figured that a non-canon spin-off that infested the charming small suburb with zombies would be a fantastic idea. Yakuza: Dead Souls is content to trade Kiryu's melee expertise for machine guns and assault rifles – but that's about as far as it differs from the other games. The city is still packed with oddballs and shockingly personal stories. They're simply not as remarkable as anything else in the series.
Yakuza 3 (2009)
The first game in the series to debut on the PlayStation 3, Yakuza 3 showed just what developer RGG Studio could do with all that increased processing power. The minigames multiplied in number, the city grew in scale and depth, and the tale cranked up even more. The serious part of the game got more dramatic. The frivolous side got even sillier. Yakuza 3 is the game for you if you've ever wanted to play a game where fighting moves are inspired by writing a blog on your phone.
Sadly, the game's move from Japan to the Northwestern coast saw a fair amount of content eliminated because of cultural differences: SEGA decided that a Japanese historical quiz and a minigame based in a hostess club didn't mesh too well with perceptions of our shores. Maybe the publishers were right, too, but the end effect left Yakuza 3 feeling a little euthanized and weirdly constructed in the West.
While Judgment is not a Yakuza game in the traditional sense, it is a canonical component of the Yakuza series — and it is located in the exact location as the majority of the Yakuza action, Kamurocho. You take on the series of lawyer-turned-detective Takayuki Yagami as he explores a string of heinous crimes in the bustling town. You also encounter Yakuza and thugs during your research, which neatly connects the Judgement and Yakuza game universes.
While the investigation techniques are simplistic and some of the follow-up missions are tedious, Judging does have its pleasures. It's difficult to dislike this animated spin-off with a true sense of mystery generated by the primary plot and some great battle sequences. The competent storytelling outweighs any gameplay issues you may encounter.
The Yakuza 4 (2011)
Now that the series had established itself and found its footing, the time had come to go big: the last trilogy of games had created the groundwork for a story that was both campy and serious, and variations on the fighting techniques and combat had hit on something manageable. The Yakuza were prepared to deploy their heavy weapons.
In Yakuza 4, RGG Studio pulled the spotlight away from Kiryu and put you in the shoes of three additional protagonists:
1.A strangely unselfish loan shark named Shun Akiyama
2.An ill-tempered ex-con named Taiga Saejima
3.A filthy detective named Masayoshi Tanimura
Though the tone and story can become muddled due to the game's split focus, with enough perseverance, you can discover some of the classic Yakuza heart amid all this cinematic bloat.
Yakuza 4 is the first game to feature characters other than Kazuma Kiryu. Many fans were surprised when the game started with a new protagonist, Shun Akiyama, a fumbling money lender. Yakuza 4 is divided into four segments, each with several chapters. The game's protagonists are playable in order: Akiyama, Taiga Saejima, Masayoshi Tanimura, and Kazuma Kiryu.
Unlike Yakuza 3, the game is primarily set in Kamurocho. The city has been dramatically expanded this time, allowing you to explore the sewers, tunnels, and rooftops. Combat has been significantly improved, with each character having their style and Heat Actions. There are also plenty of additional minigames and side material for each character.
The game's leading hook is how the four characters' lives intertwine, and the climactic battle involving all four is a blast. The game revealed that focusing on surfaces other than Kiryu may be beneficial.
Yakuza 6: Song of Life (2018)
Perhaps the most severe and melancholy setting occurs at the climax of Kiryu's story. Following earlier games in which you played as the protagonist's daughter, Haruka, The Song of Life immediately throws you into a horrific hit-and-run incident in which Haruka is knocked unconscious. Kiryu, who is now caring for his grandson Haruto, is seeking vengeance.
Yakuza 6's gameplay is a change from previous releases. Kiryu's numerous fighting styles have been combined into a single seamless set of melee moves. The creators have opted for a more RPG-inspired approach to growth and character development. This may have set the stage for the next Yakuza: Like a Dragon, which will feature turn-based combat rather than the series' customary real-time action.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon
Yakuza: Like a Dragon is the seventh sequel in the series and the series' most recent game chronologically, signaling the end of an era in multiple ways. RGG Studios opted to shake things up with this title, reintroducing a more traditional RPG style complete with turn-based battles, interchangeable job roles, and genuine party members.
Additionally, Like a Dragon developed a new area for players to discover, Yokohama, which will also appear in the upcoming Lost Judgment. Perhaps most significantly, Like a Dragon introduces a brand new series protagonist, Ichiban Kasuga, who will take the place of fan-favorite Kiryu as the fresh face of Yakuza.
Kiwami Yakuza (2016)
Yakuza Kiwami is a reimagining of the series's original title, recreated in the Dragon Engine and tweaked here and there to make it much more playable (and relevant) on modern hardware. The original game's dubious fighting mechanics have been upgraded to be more in line with recent releases, and some of the terminologies have been enhanced. As a result, what began as a lovely but imperfect crime drama transforms into an enthralling and absurd tour of Kamurocho.
Majima transforms from a cold-blooded, underdeveloped adversary who exists solely to oppose Kiryu into a likable character, inspired by both his passion for combat and his (confusing) love for Kiryu. This is a heartfelt game, and it's easy to see how it inspired the enduring Yakuza craze that ensued.
Yakuza Kiwami 2
Yakuza Kiwami 2 is a remake of the second Yakuza game using the new Dragon Engine, just as its predecessor was to the original Yakuza game. Yakuza 2 was already an excellent title, but this remaster with gobs of added material is the uldragontimate way to play one of the series' best games.
Additionally, those utilizing Yakuza 0 as a jumping-off point for the series will appreciate the "Majima Saga" sub-story, which serves as a satisfying and organic method to connect the Yakuza Kiwami titles prequel.
The first Yakuza Kiwami did a fantastic job rebuilding the series' first game, preserving the core while adding new features and story components. However, Yakuza Kiwami 2 outperforms its predecessor, producing one of the best Yakuza experiences ever.
Yakuza 2 boasts one of the series' most beloved tales, and Kiwami 2 recreates every cutscene in stunning detail. Because it's based on the Dragon Engine, Kiwami 2 has the same combat and upgrade system as Yakuza 6, although it's been enhanced. Weapons are added again, providing gamers more fighting possibilities, while Kiryu's move set and heat actions are expanded. Combat seems tighter, smoother, and more visceral.
Of course, this is a Yakuza game, so there's plenty to explore. There are tonnes of minigames, including baseball, karaoke, golf, Toylets, and an erotic photoshoot. The Cabaret Club and Clan Creator minigames have been reintroduced and considerably extended. Kiryu works as a floor manager for Club Four Shine in the first and assists Majima Construction in the second. Not only that, but the Majima Saga is a fresh new tale part that has some excellent emotional payoff for Yakuza 0.
Yakuza Kiwami 2 is so meticulously crafted that it is more than a primary recreation. In short, it's one of the series' best yet, and it shows.
The Yakuza 5 (2012)
Yakuza 5 benefits from everything that has come before it: each Yakuza title developed in the lead-up to Yakuza 5 contributed something to this masterpiece of a game. Perhaps in reference to the namesake number, you'll have five mind-boggling locales to explore and five individuals to handle as you unravel the game's shockingly intimate tale with more flexibility than you've ever had in a Yakuza game.
The game's best moments speak for themselves: you may fight a bear, peer behind the curtains of what it's genuinely like to be a popular idol, or take a job as a down-and-out cab driver to experience Japan's urban underbelly. So you can very much complete anything on your schedule.
Yakuza 5 continued the concept set by its predecessor, delivering an epic overall storey with intersecting plotlines. Instead of four protagonists, Yakuza 5 offers five, including Haruka for the first time. Each chapter for Haruka and Akiyama is playable in Yakuza 5, with Shinada Tatsuo being the series' newcomer.
Amazingly, each of the game's main segments feels like a standalone game, with unique game mechanics and minigames. Again, each character has their combat style, and Haruka's gameplay revolves around her quest to become an idol, with dance battles, fan meetups, and more.
This series's gameplay versatility shines, and it's filled to the bursting with things to do and see. There are substories, collectibles in each city, and minigames. While the game's parts are distinct, the plot comes together nicely, with a solid emotional blow at the climax. Except for Kamurocho, Yakuza 5 was a considerable improvement over its predecessor.
Yakuza 0 (2016)
Yakuza 0 is a precursor to the events of the remainder of the series, and it's an excellent starting point for anyone interested in learning more about the series. Taken from the perspectives of both main character Kiryu and his former adversary Goro Majima, there is no more fabulous introduction to the world and attitude of the Yakuza than this campy, passionate, and dramatic 1980s frolic.
From truly heartbreaking meetings with the city's homeless to some genuinely hilarious parodies of 1980s legends (we're looking at you, "Miracle Johnson"), Yakuza 0 deftly transitions from the silly to the sublime. Perhaps the most joyous, exuberant, and cynical of all the Yakuza games, this utter enjoyment is even accessible to try via Xbox Games Pass. There is no reason not to jump in immediately.
Yakuza 0 is a prologue to the Yakuza series and is an excellent series for newbies to start. It's also the series' best game, and its popularity helped the series gain new followers. The game's storey follows Kiryu, the series' main character, as he grows up in the Yakuza under the tutelage of Goro Majima.
With Stranger Things reviving the 1980s nostalgia obsession, Yakuza 0 is a welcome addition. With in-game access to Sega arcade classics like OutRun, Super Hang-On, and Space Harrier, this may be the best '80s-themed video game ever developed.
Fans of the series must definitely check out this game. It contains the familiar setting and stylized tale, but it may be the most detailed and involved storyline ever.
Yakuza 0 provided us with a new glimpse into Kamurocho, transporting us back to the 1980s. While Kamurocho blazes with neon lights and disco crowds, the renowned Millenium Tower remains unbuilt. Yakuza 0 follows Kazuma Kiryu and Goro Majima as they grow up and get embroiled with the Tojo Clan. Despite being a prelude to the series, it offers a fascinating glimpse into the two characters.
This remaster/ remake is arguably the series' most full bundle, packed with content and a fascinating tale that requires no previous knowledge. The game's combat system is redesigned, allowing Kiryu and Majima three different battle styles to choose from. This creates a more engaging system with lots of variation. The writing is excellent, and each character has a rich backstory that encompasses managing a cabaret club for Majima and real estate for Kiryu. And there are tonnes of substories and minigames to explore, many of which feel period-appropriate.
It's fun to observe how different Kamurocho and its inhabitants were before the first game. Zero was a great series to start for many new Yakuza fans. An intriguing look into 1980s Japan makes it the series' best game.