Yakuza 6: The Song of Life Review

Platform: PS4 Pro

Release Date: 4/17/2018

Publisher: Sega of America

Developer: SEGA Games

ESRB: Mature

This title was reviewed on the PS4 Pro with a review copy provided by Gaming Instincts.

Introduction

Yakuza 6: The Song of Life is a game packed with a lot of fun and interesting things to do. Beside playing the main story, which is a great experience itself,  most players will be swept up in the mini-games and combat around the cities. With this being the final chapter in the story of Kazuma Kiryu, we are eager to see if this installment is a worthy send off of such a deep character. Will The Song of Life be one title that keeps players around after the main story, or will the Virtua Fighter and Batting Cages fall silent after it all ends?

Graphics

Yakuza 6: The Song of Life is an impressive game in terms of graphics. Particle effects and lighting are done very well in this title. At moments scenes look downright real. Blood effects in cut scenes look natural, and motion capture is done very well in filming. The cinematic positions of cut scenes are done in a way that highlights every scene. There’s rarely a missed moment, and the focal  point is obvious due to the camera’s focus angle. Players will spend their time mostly out of cut scenes, so it’s important to focus on how the free-roam world looks.

Jumping out of a cut scene, the  game still looks great. Colors range from bright and lively to warm and serious depending on where you are. Random NPCs look how you would expect them to look in a game as large as this one: not overly detailed, but with enough to look at them and say “yeah that’s a person.” Combat NPCs are the same way, but they have the tendency to pummel you if you look at them the wrong way.

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Models in the cabaret club look stunning. They’re not overly detailed like you would find in cut scenes, but with enough to tell that you’re still in a video game. This is the case with most mini-game NPC’s. Yakuza 6: The Song of Life looks great, but most long-time fans of the Yakuza series won’t be picking it up for the visuals.

Combat

The Song of Life features a combat system that is easy to grasp, but repetitive. Two things that never go well together. Fighting in The Song of Life is fun, believe me, but after a while it loses its spark. It’s more of the same with each group of thugs you encounter. Players will find themselves using the strategy that works the best every time. It just so happens that the strategy that works best is the main strategy, punch them until they die. It would’ve been nice to change how combat works, some new features and mechanics to set this installment apart from the rest.

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Combat is relatively easy, too. Enemies rarely get the drop on you and clearing them away is pretty easy. If one NPC is standing next to another, your punch may just hit both of them, clearing them out twice as fast. Heat Orbs, which are used the activate extreme heat mode, are collected way too fast. Players could use Extreme Heat Mode in every battle. The player can also  use objects in combat, which adds a bit of variety, but objects are basically a fight ender, especially if you get a bike.

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Shared buttons are a small yet noticeable issue. In combat you’ll be surrounded by enemies. Say you want to grab someone but you were just too close to that traffic cone, and ended up grabbing it.  The button for grabbing enemies is also the button for grabbing objects, it’s a small problem, but we’re sure you’ll run into it at least once in your game. While combat may have its issues, it’s still a lot of fun. Taking on a group of thugs with your bare fists—and maybe a mountain bike—is awesome, especially in Extreme Heat Mode in which you can use special finishers to end your opponents in style.

 Mini-Games

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Mini-Games are a big part of Yakuza 6: The Song of Life. Most of them are fun and enjoyable, presenting enough of a challenge to keep you coming back to play again. The karaoke bar is the most popular one throughout the series, which should only be played on hard mode. Karaoke presents enough of a challenge to players that they’ll be able to feel accomplished and watch the nice music videos that go along with the songs. Virtua Fighter was a welcome sight in The Song of Life. We found ourselves playing for hours in the SEGA arcade, climbing the ladder with various characters. Puyo-Puyo quickly gets pretty stale, but overall is a nice experience. The batting cage is where your skill is tested with home run challenges.

Player’s should also check out Clan Creator, where you can assemble your own clan and fight rivals. Players can recruit new members with special abilities by finding them and beating them up, because that’s how we all make friends, right? Allies can bring abilities like healing others and stronger attacks to the table to help out. It’s a interesting feature which we would have liked to have seen more of in previous titles.

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The Cabaret Club is a nice branch off from the rest of the game. Putting our minds to work as we try to woo a beautiful woman into a nice evening. Online chat rooms are similar, but require less thought and more button pressing. Though depending on your preference the reward may be greater. Mini games are loads of fun and a nice departure from the serious nature of living in Yakuza-run Japan. It’s nice to take a break from fighting guys with mountain bikes and play some video games, just like real life, right? While it may not have all the interesting mini-games of Yakuza 0, The Song of Life holds its own with what it has to offer.

Side-Stories

Side stories are the same situation with mini games, they are a nice departure from the serious side of Yakuza. Most side stories are funny and provide a funny look at social situations like video chatting and risk for views on Youtube. Most of the side stories are fetch quests in which you’re told to go grab something in exchange for money. Even though they’re fetch missions, some still have funny outcomes and good moments along the way. Some even make you feel pretty good, like bringing joy to a little girl’s birthday party, even if she is a spoiled brat.

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The Trouble app on Kiryu’s phone is also a very useful tool that shouldn’t be forgotten. It’s an app that can show the players interesting events happening around them. Allowing the payer to find side stories more easily, without having to run everywhere in search of the Cat Cafe. Side Quests are hilarious, we just wish some more would have been more on the serious side. While we all love a good laugh, a well crafted dramatic story is equally as good. Nevertheless, it’s important to do these quests when you can, as they are an addition to the game.

Story

Yakuza 6 Gameplay 2 Screenshot

Yakuza 6: The Song of Life’s story is definitely one that you’ll want to stick with. With rarely a dull moment, it proves to be a serious dramatic tale. We would have liked to have seen more characters from previous titles find a spot in the story, as it is the final story of Kazuma Kiryu. A nice send-off for previous characters would have made the whole story feel like a conclusion. For what it is, the story isn’t bad. It definitely kept our attention as we were interested in the fate of all the main characters, as well as the fate of the Chinese Triads that seek to take over the criminal underworld.

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With returning characters it’s nice to see familiar faces. Kazuma Kiryu is pulled back into the criminal underbelly of Japan. The story does end with a nice conclusion. We won’t give any spoilers away, but toward the end, things get a little crazy. Yakuza 6: The Song of Life has a great story that’s a fitting send-off for the story of Kazuma Kiryu.

Final Verdict

With nice graphical detail and a well-written conclusion to the Kazuma Kiryu storyline, Yakuza 6: The Song of Life has enough to warrant itself a try. Gameplay isn’t bad, but not as great as previous title like Yakuza 0. Mini-Games are fun and enjoyable, but combat is more of the same over and over again. Side-Stories are a nice deviation and allow some real-world scenarios to take place. It’s a fun game to play, with enough replay value to keep you interested after the story is all said and done.

Yakuza 6: The Song of Life

59.99
8

Overall

8.0/10

Pros

  • Gripping Story
  • Lots of Mini Games
  • Interesting Side Stories
  • Graphically Impressive

Cons

  • Repetitive Combat
  • Removed Mini Game Types