Gaming Instincts got an early look at Yakuza 6: The Song of Life and we’re here to give you a taste of what you can expect when you load up the game. Yakuza 6: The song of Life retains the same spirit as its predecessors. A mix of serious and comedic moments provide a balance of fun and action to keep the player interested. Yakuza 6: The Song of Life also isn’t afraid to get too satirical. Focusing on social issues and commenting on everyday problems. Tackling topics such as AI in our phones, internet addiction, and cat cafes.

Yakuza comes packed with things to do, ranging from playing Virtua Fighter 5 to video chatting with women online. Being the seventh game in the series, Sega has worked very hard to ensure the player doesn’t need to play the previous titles to understand where Kiryu is the in the main story. Although, afterwards you might just be feeling the urge to go back and try them all anyway. Yakuza 6: The Song of Life features many awesome activities and sub-stories that will keep you entertained for hours.

Mini-Games

Virtua Fighter 5 & Puyo Puyo can be found in the SEGA arcade, which can be found throughout Kamurocho. Kick back and take a break from beating up Yakuza thugs and other undesirables and beat up some video game characters…wait a minute. Players can select a number of characters ranging from Taka-Arashi to Wolf Hawkfield.

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Puyo Puyo or Puyo Pop, as it’s sometimes referred to in the west, is a puzzle game that is akin to Tetris, but with a nice character spin. Puyo Puyo has actually had a long history behind it with over 15 titles in its history. Being our first time playing Puyo Puyo we were lost on how the system works, but over time it began to make sense. Let’s just say we had to go outside and bicycle some thugs to blow off some steam.

The batting cage is a lot of fun. It’s very satisfying when striking the ball, and getting that home run makes all those strikes worth it. One of the sub-stories requires you to get a certain number of home runs to advance, so it’s good to get in the cage and practice from time to time.

Video Chatting is something that we found while completing a substory involving a young man and his girlfriend arguing. Apparently this man has been spending too much time and money online, chatting with women in online chat rooms. He decided to take us along next time, and so we obliged. Without going into too much detail, we can say that the longer the video chat takes place, the more difficult it becomes to stay focused on your button cues. We insist you check it out for yourselves.

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Probably the most famous mini-game in the Yakuza franchise, Karaoke makes it’s return in Yakuza 6: The Song of Life. Players can select a song, and, as long as they keep with the rhythm, they’ll be treated to a music video-style cut scene featuring Kiryu; they’re pretty hilarious. We may have tried them once or twice, or ten times.

Action

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What’s a Yakuza game without some beat downs to dish out? Combat is very familiar if you’ve played the previous titles and easy to grasp if you have not. A mix of light and heavy attacks allow Kiryu to perform awesome finishers. Players can also use heat orbs to enter into Extreme Heat Mode, awakening the Dragon of Dojima, which can be achieved by pressing R2. Extreme Heat Mode gives the player the ability to use unique special attacks and objects. Each hit costs heat, so it’s wise to use your Extreme Heat Mode on your strongest opponents.

You can use objects in the environment to your advantage. Ever wanted to knock out a group of thugs using only a bicycle? Who ever thought a traffic cone would prove to be such a deadly weapon? Combat is satisfying, as your hits feel like they have some serious weight to them. Your final hit also triggers a slo-mo flash on screen, which always makes you feel like a badass.

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Your health needs to be managed, as it does not regenerate. Players can refill their health with food and drinks from restaurants, mini-markets and vending machines littered throughout the cities. Players can also boost their stats with these items. The level of boost depends on which item you purchase. The more effective the item is, the more Yen it will cost. Players can also boost their stats from the pause menu, where they can bump up a number of skills ranging from total health to damage output.  

Graphics

Yakuza 6: The Song of Life looks awesome; at some moments, it looks downright theatrical. The animations during the cut scenes are well-performed and look very natural. However, once you hop out of the cut scene to a normal dialogue exchange, characters looks stiff and uncomfortable. At times it’s hard to tell which emotion they’re expressing when in conversation.

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The lighting in Yakuza 6: The Song of Life is done very well. In and out of cut scenes, lighting makes all the difference when it comes to making an environment feel natural. The particle effects also helps, little breezes of particle flare out whenever you activate Extreme Heat Mode or whenever fire can be seen. While particle effects may not change gameplay that much, they’re a nice addition when done right, and can make a game look beautiful.

The Story So Far

Kiryu has spent the last few years in prison. While out, his ward Haruka has been overseeing things at the Sunshine Orphanage in Okinawa. After previously revealing to the world that she was raised by a Father in the Yakuza, her world has become more difficult. She fears the longer she stays at the Sunshine Orphanage, the more her loved ones will suffer as a result. After deciding to leave, she promised she would return with Kiryu once he is released from prison. Once Kiryu is released he heads straight to the Sunshine Orphanage. When the orphans come to greet him, they notice that Haruka is not with him. Kiryu is surprised that she did not stay at the orphanage and takes off in search of her.

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Kiryu’s quest makes a first stop in Kamurocho, where he tries to link up with long-time friend, Akiyama. During his search he learns that a new turf war is going one between multiple factions. Primarily between the Tojo clan and the Chinese Triads. Both very ruthless organizations that are ready to spill blood to get what they want. At the current moment the Triads have their foot on the collective throat of the Tojo clan, and their goal of dominating Kamurocho is already underway. That may prove difficult, no one expected the Dragon of Dojima to walk back into town.

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In Kamurocho you’ll link up with familiar faces like Date-San, who graciously wants to help you find Haruka. Once linking up with Akiyama, the two get word from Date-San that there has been an accident involving Haruka-San and a speeding car. Being rendered comatose, Haruka is unable to comment about the situation, although Date-San does reveal something that Kiryu did not expect. Without revealing too much, we can say that Haruka’s injuries were meant to protect something she loved very dear. Kiryu heads to the crime scene and starts asking questions. It revealed that the hit-and-run was gang related, but was this a set up to try and kill Haruka? Kiryu sets out to find this driver, and solve the mysteries surrounding this accident.

Conclusion

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Yakuza 6: The Song of Life is shaping up to be a pretty awesome game. It’s fun and yet compelling at the same time. It’s mix of satirical humor and serious story overtones provide a balance of gameplay that fits together so well. With plenty to do on the streets of Kamurocho and Onomichi, you’ll be playing for hours and still will not have done all you can do inside Yakuza 6:The Song of Life. The characters from the story feel pretty genuine, which is great thing to see because you get to decide which characters you become invested in. Making characters that you care about can change how you look at a game’s narrative. With wooden characters, all you would have to go on is the action and mini-game aspects of this game. Without getting too wrapped up in the additional gameplay elements, players will want to keep going through the story because they truly want to figure out what happens along the way.

Yakuza 6: The Song of Life is the final chapter of Kiryu Kazama’s story, and one that, from what we’ve played, is shaping up to be an awesome finale. Stay tuned for our full review closer to the games release date and check out our video above in which we showcase some gameplay and scenes from the early moments of the game.