This is not a sponsored piece: I felt like writing this article since Yakuza 6 is coming out soon and I personally want to write about the series and its appeal and the growth in popularity in regions outside of Japan.
I’ve always been a fan of open-world games but Yakuza hits a special spot for me. Unlike many open-world games, your best mode of transportation is your feet. You run around the hyper-realistic town of Kamarocho, Japan and take in the scenery of shops, convenience stores, buildings, and the random thugs who keep wanting to fight Kiryu Kazama even though he doesn’t do a single thing to them.
Kiryu as your main protagonist is really interesting compared to most open world games. Since most open worlds allow you to mess around with the environments, your playable character can seem like a monster. The only people Kiryu beats up are people trying to mug him or generally evil characters. Around the city, he just walks around, eats, does karaoke, play games and interact with the people. Despite being a former Yakuza and a having a scary face, you can call Kiryu a hero. He goes out of his way to help people solve their problems and protect others. Even other characters call him a bad Yakuza member because he doesn’t like to shake people down for money or follow the code. He just wants to take care of children, sing karaoke, race children’s car games, fish, etc. His stoic attitude and sense of justice are perfectly generic compared to the absurd side-stories, characters, and the main stories in the 7 main games.
The stories of Yakuza really bring the game together. The side-stories are absolutely ridiculous. Whether its stopping people from joining a greedy cult, beating up perverts who harass women or helping a street performer use the restroom by distracting the audience with horrible dance moves, Yakuza always has a way to distract you from the main plot. The mini-games are also distracting from the main plot. Not that the mini-games are extremely fun but more about how absurd the scenes become when you are successful. Kiryu’s reactions about winning or losing at a side activity are hilarious. Karaoke is the best because when you are doing well, you enter a weird music video. The unique stories keep the game from becoming mundane and they are short and sweet so it requires little commitment compared to many Japanese games.
I can’t recommend Yakuza enough. Its one of those games where I’m constantly laughing or reacting to the game. With a sea of amazing games out currently or coming in 2018 like Far Cry 5, God of War, or Metro Exodus, it is always fun to sit back and enjoy an absurd game like Yakuza. Yakuza 6: Spring of Life comes out April 17th.