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Game Info:

Yakuza Kiwami
Developed by: Sega
Published by: Sega
Release date: August 29, 2017
Available on: PS3, PS4
Genre: Action
Number of players: up to two
ESRB Rating: Mature for Blood, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Alcohol
Price: $29.99
(Amazon Affiliate Link)

Thank you Sega for sending us this game to review!

Yakuza Kiwami is a remake of the original Yakuza game which was released in Japan in 2005 on the PS2. A year later, it became available worldwide. Kiwami first arrived in Japan on the PS3 and PS4 systems; however, the worldwide release is for PS4 only. The story remains the same in this remake and this game has been recreated from the ground up with improved visuals and re-recorded audio. Along with some new cutscenes and substories, the biggest addition is the “Majima Everywhere” fighting system, which is quite entertaining.

The story takes place in October of 1995 with the murder of a yakuza boss who attempted to rape Kiryu’s childhood friend and love interest. Yumi’s ring that he worked so hard to get for her was found at the crime scene and Kiryu takes the blame for the murder and is sent to prison. Upon his release ten years later, Kiryu finds out that ten billion yen is missing from his clan and everyone is trying to get to it for the reward of a promotion. On top of that drama, Yumi has gone missing and Kiryu sets out to find her. Along his journey, he meets an orphan named Haruka who is looking for her too.

Like other Yakuza games, this is an open world action game where you’ll be jumped on the street and will be forced to teach various gang bangers and yakuza members a lesson or two. You’ll have different fighting styles available and can switch between them mid-battle. I preferred the balanced brawler mode, but the ability to use motorcycles and other heavy objects as weapons in the beast mode is fun too. As Kiryu is forced to fight (the questionably sane) Majima on numerous occasions he’ll relearn the Dragon of Dojima fighting style.

Highlights:

Strong Points: Great remake that adds some nice new features; excellent story, visuals, and voice acting
Weak Points: Not as long as other Yakuza titles, but it’s not as expensive either
Moral Warnings: Lots of intense violence though some of it can be disabled; plenty of cursing and blaspheming with no words left out; prostitution and organ trafficking are shown; drinking and smoking is seen throughout the game 

Each fighting style has techniques that become available once you spend experience points to unlock them. Some of the abilities are unique to that fighting style while others apply to all of them. For example, when you increase your health and attack power it benefits all of the styles.
As you can imagine the fights can get bloody; fortunately there is an option to tone down the gore in the game settings. This does not impact the gruesome cutscenes where you get to witness people getting tortured or shot at close range. Naturally, with the pain and excitement there is a ton of language that should not be read or repeated by younger children.

Like any mafia game or movie, you can expect to see lots of smoking, drinking, and prostitution. Throughout the city, you can find game cards with women wearing skimpy insect themed bikinis. If you go into the arcade, you can play this Rock, Paper, Scissors themed battle game to watch the insect women wrestle. Surprisingly, this card game is marketed toward children in the game. I certainly would not let my kids play this!

As you walk around the streets, you’ll run into people you can rescue from muggings or rape and they will repay you with items if you intervene for them. There are also numerous side quests where you can uncover various con-artists and help scammed people get their possessions or money back. One set of scammers turned out to be crossdressers.

Besides the main story and mini-games there are micro-games in this title. You can do all sorts of stuff to kill time including singing karaoke, batting cages, shooting pool, throwing darts, and going bowling to name a few. At the arcades, you can play the claw game and one of the side stories has you trying to win a particular item for a desperate father. If you enjoy the micro-games, you can play them against a second player from the game’s main menu.

Yakuza Kiwami
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 90%
Gameplay - 18/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 8/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 29%
Violence - 1/10
Language - 0/10
Sexual Content - 3.5/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 0/10

I haven’t played the original Yakuza game, but the graphics in Kiwami are extremely detailed. You can see the pores on the character’s skin and the city streets are quite lively with all of the people going about their daily routines. I was amazed at the glamorous clubs and how stark the comparison was between them and the run down homeless park. You could definitely tell which parts of town were safer than others.

The audio is just as well done with great Japanese voice acting that expresses a lot of emotion. Though most of the Yakuza games don't offer it, I wonder how it would sound in my native language. The background music and sound effects are great, especially during the fighting scenes.

If you really enjoy fighting, the unlocked climax battles are worth looking into. Each battle has a challenging victory condition that must be met to complete it. For example, you’ll have to defeat a bunch of foes without getting knocked down once. You can also replay the story and boss battles just in case kicking somebody’s butt once wasn’t enough.

If you haven’t played the original Yakuza or any of them in the series, Kiwami is a great place to start. It is shorter than other Yakuza entries, but it’s also half the cost with an asking price of $30. Since the Yakuza lifestyle goes against many Christian values, be sure to take that into consideration before embarking on this adventure.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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