Republished on Wednesday, 10th August, 2022: We're bringing this review back from the archives following the announcement of August's PS Plus Extra, Premium lineup. The original text follows.
Coming off the back of the fantastic Yakuza 0 – which launched earlier in the year – Yakuza: Kiwami feels too much like a quick and dirty story expansion. Being the massive Yakuza fanboys that we are, that realisation has a definite sting to it, but we find it a difficult observation to deny. Kiwami still offers up hours of good, face-breaking fun, but it doesn't come close to reaching the heights of the series' best entries.
That's partly down to the fact that Kiwami is a full remake of the very first Yakuza game, which released all the way back in 2005. The original's PlayStation 2 roots really show through at times, and whether it's in the storytelling, the gameplay, or the design, you'll come across some very rough edges during this latest trip to the red light district of Kamurocho.
Clearly developed on a lower budget or with a smaller team – or both – Kiwami is the baseline Yakuza experience and little more. Once again hopping into the shoes of property protagonist Kazuma Kiryu, you'll run around the same old streets, beat up the same old thugs, and partake in the same old side activities. Kiwami offers up no surprises if you're already familiar with the series.
Those who remember playing through the PS2 version obviously won't be expecting any surprises anyway, but extra cutscenes and dialogue have been introduced to make for a more coherent narrative. That said, there are still some glaring plot holes dotted throughout the story, and generally speaking, the pacing, character development, and overall tone just don't live up to the standard that we're now used to when it comes to the Yakuza franchise. Don't get us wrong, this is still a story that's above and beyond what most video games have to offer, but again, those last-last-gen origins show through on a regular basis.
The amount of tedious story mission filler is a prime example of this. Yakuza titles rarely open with blistering pace, but Kiwami's first couple of hours are so unbelievably boring and disjointed that we could barely comprehend what we were playing. One of the earliest gameplay sections sees Kaz march up and down the same two streets of Kamurocho in search of an item that was stolen from him. There's no action, there's no voiced dialogue, and the game's happy to set you on a wild goose chase that seems to drag on forever. It's shockingly archaic design, and even more shocking is that these kinds of filler missions pop up regularly throughout the release.
If anything, Kiwami has hammered home the fact that the series as a whole is in dire need of a revamp. Yakuza 0 felt overly familiar to begin with, but it had its superb storytelling to fall back on – something that this game lacks. As such, we're left with a title that feels old and tired, even if it is still capable of putting a smile on your face with wacky side-stories or making you feel like the embodiment of brutality with its bone-crunching combat.
Speaking of which, Kiwami borrows directly from 0 when it comes to the action. It takes Kaz's three main fighting styles – brawler, rush, and beast – and has you unlock the same moves and abilities all over again via reworked skill trees. Now, we get that you can't have a maxed-out Kiryu blasting through the entire game, but if you've played 0 to completion, then the process of rebuilding Kaz's greatness is going to seem like a chore.
His legendary dragon style is also available here, but the path to fully unlocking its potential is even more of a slog than it was in the last release. As you run around Kamurocho, you'll come into frequent contact with Goro Majima – the one-eyed lunatic who was a second playable character in 0. Obsessed with our hero, Majima makes it his mission to help restore the protagonist's martial prowess by challenging him to street brawls. It's a fun idea that adds a bit of spice to general traversal and exploration, even if fights against Majima do start to get a bit repetitive later on.
The problem is that you'll have to kick Majima to bits more times than you can count in order to fully awaken the dragon style. Not only that, but you'll also have to take him on at range of minigames and complete a couple of separate side activities that takes a long, long time to properly master. Completionsists will no doubt chew through all of that stuff, but even then, you won't be able to maximise the dragon style's potential until right near the end of the game, which makes you question what the point is to begin with.
Yakuza Kiwami finds itself in a strange position. A remake that's technically a sequel to a much better game in Yakuza 0, it struggles to offer anything besides another engaging crime-drama storyline. Best described as a kind of expansion, Kiwami really shows its age in terms of narrative structure and gameplay design, but it's still worth playing through if you just can't get enough of Kaz. It goes without saying, however, that series newcomers are much better off starting with the far superior Yakuza 0.
I'm still excited to get this and looking at metacritic this is the only review under 7 so far
I'll probably still enjoy it and it's not a full priced game. Gotta admit I was not expecting a 6 but it's a good fair review.
@ShogunRok Is Kiwami as long as Zero? I loved Zero but I'm not sure I can stomach another Yakuza title so close to it, especially if the combat is exactly the same.
@Comrade44 that's what it's averaging on metacritic and pretty much everywhere else
I love the yakuza series but this review does not come as a surprise. My big issue with the series is that there are only so many times you can visit kamurocho, and it still feel fresh.
Still, I am excited for my preorder to arrive. Yakuza 1 and 2 are the only gaps in my collection, so hopefully we get the second game too. And then hopefully yakuza 6 blows us away next year.
Great review @shogunrok your expertise in Yakuza has shown through and you have covered most of my worries. Ive looked at a few reviews over on metacritic and they are written mostly by new comers to the series (like i was with zero) so of course they would be blown away. I wont be picking this up and will await next years entree as I only finished zero a few months ago.
You're trigger happy with the score here...6/10 is harsh especially for a game that came to the west for the fans SEGAdidn't have to bring this game to the west bt they did. a 8/10 would have been more fair. also you have more picture than sentences for a game that big you really didn't put the effort necessary just to **** your article.
Currently 82 on metacritic, but I can see why you scored it the way you did. It's important to keep in mind that this is a budget release (£25), so I've always kept my expectations in check.
@ShogunRok How long is the main story? I'm just looking to hammer through the story as I only just finished Yakuza 0.
@InsertCoin Welcome to the site :')
This site gave a golfing game a 7/10. Enough said.
It's sad to see that true fans have to wait so long for a beloved game while Game Journo Bros get to nitpick and make oh-so-hilarious youtube videos. The sadder part is they WILL rate one of the best releases this year low because POLITICS (Polygon). Because you fight a Transgendered man???!! GASP Probably because they didn't get tickets to some game con or only got a review code instead of the steelbook edition.
@Quintumply Nah, Kiwami is shorter. Took me about 25-ish hours to do everything I wanted, including the main story. There's a good few hours of padding in there as well.
@InsertCoin Yeah, "trigger-happy" with a 6/10 after giving Yakuza 0 an 8/10 a few months ago and calling it a "far superior" game in this very review.
@Fight_Teza_Fight Main story alone is about 15-20 hours. Like the review says, though, a few hours of that is some pretty poor padding.
@Flopsy So you're saying we should start dishing out high scores to every niche game just because the publisher might pull the plug if we don't?
Also, of course you're going to compare it to 0. How can you not compare it to 0 when it's basically the same game released a few months later?
@BatmanArk94 Can't speak for Polygon but I love the Yakuza series. Just turns out that this is one of the worst Yakuza games I've played. Shock and horror.
Before anyone else spouts some rubbish about us not being bribed for a better score, please give the review a proper read.
I've been playing this over the last few days and I do think it coming out so soon to Yakuza 0 doesn't do it any favours - location and content is too familiar.
I am enjoying it a bit more than the reviewer but I do really miss not being able to pop into the arcade and play OutRun.
Looking at some of the comments here and elsewhere on the web, you'd think we haven't been one of the most outspoken supporters of the Yakuza series for years — long before anyone else decided to jump on the bandwagon...
This review is horrible and lazy. I will sum it up in these points:
1. Slow start What don't you get about a simple little fun thing that was added? I've played the Japanese version and it's 10 minutes tops if you skip through it, around a 25 minutes INTRODUCTION if you read through it.
2. Not better than previous entries This is where you're wrong. This is a yearly franchise in Japan and it almost always improves on the prequels, it's made by A SMALL TEAM, with a SMALL BUDGET and YEARLY DEADLINES. Even if it's the core combat, such as the case in Kiwami, there's always improvement. Can you say the same about Assassin's Creed? You can't possibly say that Assassin's Creed Unity has better combat than Assassin's Creed 2.
Yakuza Kiwami adds: Smoother and faster combat system, new leveling up system, new substories, new boss fights, and it's the most challenging Yakuza game up to date. For a title that "feels" like a DLC expansion it doesn't PLAY like a DLC expansion.
3. Story below standard The original game had Seishu Hase as a writer, an award-winning crime novelist. While it has some gameplay vs story inconsistencies like every other game, it's one of the best stories in the series. This is why it made it to the top of many "best of" lists when it comes to Yakuza games, and it's even what carried the series throughout the years alongside beat em ups who had better core combat in the PS2 era. (God Hand, Urban Reign, Rise to Honor, etc.)
4. Rebuilding the Dragon Fighting style is a chore It's an optional thing. It expands on the relationship between two central characters in the series. You may like it, I sure want to see more of it instead of just grinding. Most of the encounters are interesting, funny, and a really cool way to mix things up instead of the usual brawls. This is actually what makes the game one of the hardest ones between all of them. It separates the MEN from the boys. Maybe you need to work on your dodge-cancels or something.
5. You have to play optional minigames Oh NOES!1 They integrated the mini-games into an OPTIONAL system by making you play with Majima. EXCEPT THEY USED TO DO IT IN ALMOST ALL OF THE GAMES WITH HARUKA. It's optional, it's an extra thing that you can do. It's not that big of a deal. You still have 3 other styles that are in many ways better than Dragon. However, the ultimate style is the Dragon style because of the Tiger Drop counter that you can basically kill anyone with it in one hit. Shouldn't be earned so easily don't you think??
The problem is you haven't given this a fair shot. A 6/10 is a harsh review and you need to put up some valid, good points to exactly why is it that you rated it so low? Is it merely because it builds on the original game like a DLC Expansion? Well that may be true it still offers an improvement and an interesting game. What's interesting is that big budget - EMPHASIS ON BIG BUDGET - games like Infamous, Sleeping Dogs, Shadow of Mordor, Far Cry have gotten away with better scores and lighter content. I wonder why is that? I used to be on this site daily from 2012 to 2015, and as soon as I noticed some dodgy antics by the reviewers I bailed.
One last thing, whether it's a positive or negative review, beware of misinformation. Play the game yourself, and make your own opinion. It's a good game that deserves at least your attention. $30 for something that I bet not a whole lot of people have played before, which is the angle that this review dismisses.
Oh, and when I said this review is lazy? Yeah it took me around 15 minutes to write this, and I'm just about a hundred words shorter than this review. Oh well! If you read it all the way, then you get 23 Experience Points.
They could have just released a HD PS2 port with trophies, like a lot of other PS on PS4 games but instead they do what they can to update it, so new fans can plsy through an older title a bit more comfortably and you aeard this extra effort with a 6.....
Grrrrrr! That not bad score at the end of all them words made me so mad that I'm gonna sign up to let the reviewer know my opinion of his opinion. Grrrrr!
@ShogunRok Thanks. I had my fill of the mini games in Yakuza 0, so it's just main story for me this time around. Being an older game I can see it being frustrating. Hope it's not too obtuse in what it wants me to do.
@ApostateMage Normally I wouldn't care. In this case I do because it's Pushsquare, and one of my old favorite reviewers. Added to that is I simply care about the game, and if people are misinformed about it. Nothing wrong with that. It's not as silly as you writing your opinion on my opinion on his opinion? Guess not huh?
@ShogunRok Ah ok, thanks. I'll still leave it for a bit. I think too much Yakuza could kill it for me.
These posts from some of the fans you've upset by calling the game "Not Bad" are killing me :'D
Great review btw. Great, great review.
@SerenaRegular I'm sorry you're disappointed with the review, and I've got nothing against you writing your own counter points, but I take offence to calling it lazy.
I've spent god-knows how many hours playing Yakuza games since the original PS2 days, and I like to think I know what I'm talking about. Sadly, I don't have the time nor the will to write 3000 words on why I think this game is a 6/10. If I could offer the most in-depth criticism possible, I would, but it would ultimately be a wasted effort.
Going back to your points, many of them just read like you're making excuses. Yes, it's made by a smaller team on a smaller budget. Does that mean we should be cranking the score up a few points? Of course not. In my opinion it's a weaker Yakuza game - doesn't matter whether it was made by one developer or one hundred.
I say in the review that the story is above and beyond most games, which it is. The Yakuza games generally have great stories. But it undeniably shows its age and it has plot holes. The series' storytelling has come a long way since. Relatively speaking, I don't think it's all that amazing.
I could go on and on but I've already written a full review that houses all my criticisms.
Appreciate the honest review. This is likely one of those series that improved over time.
With that said, I'll still be picking it up eventually. I love that they're remastering these games for those of us who never jumped on the Yakuza train before.
But... but......"This site gave a golfing game a 7/10. Enough said."
Love the demand for a higher review due to some vested interest, yet a game he cant stand (i assume) deserves less by default
nice open minded thought processes... should be a reviewer..
@ShogunRok I have already commented above on the game itself, but to give balance I really wanted to say great job with the review. It is well reasoned and fair. I can see exactly why you gave it the score you did. Love that this site continues to give balanced and honest coverage. You have been talking about your love for the series, and your desire for it to grow into a big seller for as long as I have been reading push square; so I fully trust your opinion on the series when it falls a little short of the greatness we all want to see it to deliver.
That said, for me, any excuse to walk around Tokyo again works for me so I remain a day one buyer
@Rob_230 Thanks very much. And yeah, if you're big into Yakuza, why wouldn't you get this game? Still an enjoyable face-stomping time.
WOW! I'm so disappointed with this...I was expecting this to be awesome but if it is worse than 0 then I'll wait for for a sale on this one! I loved 0 but I got to be honest, Majima was the best part of the game by far...I like Kiryu but Majima had a better story and I liked the fighting style!
Anyway, I liked this review and it helped me save like 30 euros or so I'll get it later down the line!
From what I've heard, Kiwami is basically the original game run in the new engine with a few mechanical changes. Like, some of the animations are ripped straight from the PS2 game. If you're a Yakuza fan, let's be honest - you're going to buy this game anyway and be happy, I know I will, but if some of the game shows it's age then you want those new fans to try the most modern game that's also the best jumping point. If they're hooked with 0 they'll jump onto Kiwami.
Boy, someone is salty over a review score.
Anyways, I really should get a Yakuza game. I never played one and I keep hearing good things. I'm assuming starting with 0 would be a good way to go?
@ShogunRok For someone who has never played Yakuza 1 how would you rate this if you don't mind me asking. I never really played it and was waiting for this.
Great have 0 will hold out for the next entry and hopefully new story or protagonist or both.
@Deadlyblack Yeah, 0 is a really great Yakuza game and the perfect place to start. If you end up liking that, grab Kiwami - but expect more of the same and, as far as I'm concerned, a worse game.
@Tasuki You mean if you've never played the original PS2 game? I don't think it'll impact you much. As a long-time fan it was nice to see how the developer had remade the story cutscenes and stuff, but that's about it.
If you're new to the series I'd highly recommend starting with Yakuza 0. If you like that, you can always move onto Kiwami.
@Comrade44 Not at all, I think this is a 6/10 all day long.
And it seems like a cliche for us to say at this point but let's not forget that a 6 is categorically "not bad" on our scoring scale. Just because we've given this a lower score when compared to other sites doesn't mean we hate it.
Just a friendly reminder it's ok to disagree with the review, but insulting the author or staff can result in a ban. Remember to be curious and choose your words carfeully. Consider this a warning.
Thanks for understanding
@ShogunRok Thanks for the info. Zero is currently in my backlog so I will be getting to it at some point.
@Comrade44 Thanks. I get that people scroll to the score, see a 6, and are shocked it got that score. But honestly, it's the same on my end. I went into this game after loving Yakuza 0 to the point where it's one of my favourite games of 2017 so far. I never expected to be giving it a 6/10, but that's what I came out with.
And just to clarify, I think it's good thing that other reviewers enjoyed it more than I did - everyone likes to enjoy a good game. Sadly I just don't think it's a great Yakuza game (but it's still not bad).
The game is from 2006, I believe (might've been 05 in Japan), so I'm not too surprised by the 6/10. Then you add the fact that the best game in the series just released earlier this year. I still think you'll like this if you like 0, though. I had a lot of fun playing it back on the PS2 and will be picking it up next week.
@Gamer83 Yeah, I'm sure I'll like it. I'm definitely looking forward to it when it comes out, since I never played the 1st game.
This review saddens me, but in a way Yakuza 0 is a tough act to follow.
I picked this up for completion reasons but honestly 1&2 HD were good enough for me. Still need 6 and isshin.
@dark_knightmare2 My thoughts exactly. Also, this looks exactly like Yakuza 0...
I love yakuza but the very first was a little rough when I played it a few years ago, I don't remember any glaring plot inconsistencies but I'll be paying attention because I had trouble understanding nishki's motivations fully and it became worse after recently playing 0.
God I hate Metacritic and scoring sometimes. Six is not a bad game. It is above average, which for a 12 year old PS2 remaster doesn't seem outrageous. For me, as a newcomer to the franchise, it looks like Zero is the place to start.
This will be my first foray into Yakuza, can't wait for the NA release.
This is my first time on this site, and I felt a need to make an account. First, I would like to say that it is really nice to see so many fans of the Yakuza series (I rarely see this many on one site). I started playing Yakuza when the third title released. I had always wanted to play Yakuza, I could never find it as they are made in limited quantities (I hate digital and I think it will bring about the end of gaming as we know it). I finally was able to aquire a copy when I pre-ordered the third game. I played the hell out of that game and every subsequent release from there on out. I am still enjoying Yakuza 0 right now (my first PS4 died and I was unable to retrieve my saved data, plus I am very busy and don't have the time to play as much as I like). At any rate, I pre-ordered Yakuza Kwiami today and I was super stoked that it was only $30.00. I am so excited to finally see where this epic started and it is revamped as well...sign me up and take my money.
Lastly, Yakuza Kiwami 2 was just announced today and when I pick up the first one, I am pre-ordering the second one. I would also like to implore those of you that are thinking of waiting for the new release should get it while you can. As a collector who owns a huge gaming collection (Atari 7800 all the way to the PS4, PRO, Xbox One, including the rarest consoles ever to grace the US Shores like the Neo Geo AES and Mini NES) this title isn't going to last on store shelves, unless you plan on getting the digital release (yuck).
@sinn1 Welcome to the site!
Finished Kiwami last night. Amazon delivered a couple of days early .
Really enjoyed it. Actually think I was better off having played Zero first, as it heavily involved the main cast of Zero...
Only focused on the main story & was able to beat it in just over 13 hours. Great game. Roll on Kiwami 2!
Seeing a person in the west give this game a poor review score only feeds to the Japanese that think Westerners are too stupid to comprehend these games. Which is why they seldom get localized here, to begin with.
@sinn1 Your disdain for digital games is bizarre. But you're right. They will make physical games obsolete, because... well... news flash, they are. The only people that like having their games physical are people that sell their games when they're finished with them / don't like them. Pretty archaic way of thinking to buy a game strictly to unload it when you're finished, don't you think? I find that state of mind pretty repulsive, but that's just me.
@Valyrious So we should start scoring all Japanese games more positively purely to suit those that made them? Is that what you're saying?
@ShogunRok I don't think you should give a positive score JUST for something like that, but negative scores will tell the developer that interest isn't what they hope to be and are completely within their right to pull away from supporting those specific regions.
This reviewer didn't do a good job scoring the game on its own merits. His basis for his negative score is directly comparing it to Yakuza 0, which is probably the only other Yakuza game that the person played before. Comparing a PS2 remake that originally came out in 2005 to a prequel title that released in 2015 is a bit cynical, don't you think?
@Valyrious Um collectors say hello.
New users welcome. Especially @sinn1 for a fine comment!
@Tasuki Collectors can collect digital as well. In fact, I have 700 games across PS4, PS3 and PS Vita. Almost primarily digital.
There's no way in hell I could display all of that if they were all physical. That's just a waste of space. And swapping discs is a nightmare when you play 5+ different games at any given day...
Basically more of the same, so yeah I'm interested.
@Valyrious You'll probably wanna read the rest of Shoguns comments in this thread :')
Welcome to the website by the way. Be nice
I honestly don't mind that this game scores lower than Yakuza 0, for some it might seem like an insult to give it that type of score (Since the game is pretty good on it's own), but it goes to show how well the series has progressed all these years with each sequel getting better and better.
Also I'm just glad that there are people discussing and arguing about the Yakuza series, which means that it's grown from a niche series that a scarce number of westerners played, to a franchise that's now finally getting the spotlight it deserves in the west. And I hope we see more of it, for better or for worse.
@Valyrious Youre not serious are you. Collectors will always want physical that's the whole point of a collection. For them it's not about the space. A room full of games is always more impressive then a harddrive full of games.
Also there are people with bad or no internet so they physical market will cater to them. Then there is always the case of what happens if the company goes out of business what happens to my digital purchases then? Take OnLive for example I got a few games from them, granted they were free but I cant play them now cause that company is gone.
So yeah physical isn't going anywhere.
@Valyrious Yeah you've done a fantastic job of assuming absolutely everything about me there!
@Valyrious "Negative scores will tell the developer that interest isn't what they hope to be and are completely within their right to pull away from supporting those specific regions."
It's not my intention to pile on you as you're obviously entitled to your opinion, but it's completely unreasonable for us to award Japanese games higher scores just so said games release in this region.
We're huge champions of Japanese games on the site — often writing in-depth about titles that don't get much traffic (and thus make us very little money) — purely because we want people to know about them.
But we'd be doing our readers a disservice if we inflated the scores of Japanese games purely because the developers might stop localising them overseas. That's ridiculous!
It's kind of funny how many people base their own perceptions on other people's experiences... It really doesn't matter at the end of the day what the number is at the end of the review if you read the whole thing. It was a well written and detailed opinion.
Personally it doesn't effect me at all, and if a game with a low score sells well it won't effect the publisher or developer at all. Yakuza fans will probably still buy it. Moaning in a comment section is just petty. 😂
Skipping this one and going right to Yakuza 6 next year. I have barely played 0 anyway - its several games down on my backlog - so this feels too soon for me. Plus I don't want to go back to the older way; I have Yakuza 2 on the PS2 and remember how they did things before.
Bring on the future entries (including that Hokuto Ga Gotoku/Fist of the North Star Yakuza title) and those yummy engine/design improvements, Sega
It's not that bad... 6 is too low. For me, I gave 7.5-8 points. Don't forget that this is a remake from ten years-old game, so they can't improve that much like 0 which is a new deal, but you could expect that awesome one with Yakuza 6. Kiwami weak point is its lack of strong side activities/mini game (No, hostress Management !!!). O is great bcoz main story kind of force you to play all their mini games at least once, which is a great idea. And I love hostress and real estate management, which its reward really worth the time to spent on. Kiwami did good in Majima everywhere(I personally, love it), but we have to spent too much time to fight Majima until the Dragon style can be use effectively.
Sum up: Love it even it's not great. This is the first time I play Kiwami( My first Yakuza is 4 ) and I enjoy the story that tie really well with 0. I also notice that maybe they think this series will not be popular at that time, so thay decide to kill almost everyone to finish the story. It might feel like you play an expansion bcoz play time is not long and have side quest is not interesting like the 0.
PS. Sorry about my poor English.
I have finally got around to buying and finishing Kiwami. I was new to the series, but always wanted to get into it. So I was absolutely delighted to dip into the delight that was Yakuza 0! After finishing that I got around to checking out your review of Kiwami, needless to say I was a little bit sad that they didn’t manage to follow up and make Kiwami as great as Zero.
Thank you for the honest review. I have to agree with your score, as much as it pains me to do so, as I really wanted it to be great. Even so I’m glad I played it, and look forward to further entries in the series! Fingers crossed that they keep remastering all the games for PS4 until we’re caught up over here in the west.
@Snorky Thanks for giving it a read. Definitely worth playing, but like you say, disappointing — especially coming off the back of 0.
Lol, I forgot about the comment section in this review. Ah, classic. 😆
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