2005 never looked so good in 2017. Coming fresh off of Yakuza 0, I was immediately astounded by Kiwami. It feels like 0 but is visually grittier. Kiwami still has the same style but continues the storyline where 0 left off. A critical event happens within the Tojo clan that causes Kiryu to endure 10 long years in prison 0 had rave reviews when it was released in the West earlier this year and Kiwami is right up there. The game is half the price of 0 (at only $30!) so you really have no excuse to buy this game. I highly recommend you pick up Kiwami as your first entry into the Yakuza franchise although Yakuza 0 is definitely a better start line.
Side note: I was supposed to come out with this article weeks ago but I got busy in my personal life and put it on the backburner.
Kiwami uses the same engine as 0 but with some tweaks and improvements. Everything is detailed. Right down the food in the convenience store. Again, the visuals look very similar to Yakuza 0 but a little grittier. The game runs at a smooth 60fps. There are certain times when the framerate will chugg but that’s usually very rare. The PS4 can handle more than 50 yakuza baddies on screen at glorious 60fps!
Fans of the Yakuza series will notice that certain shops have changed and just like real life, branding for companies will change. Poppo Convenience stores resemble real life Lawson’s colors with places like CLUB SEGA and Don Quijote getting facelifts. I’ve never been to Japan in 2005 but I’d like to think that the devs looked at the references from the first PS2 iteration and used it to their advantage here.
Characters & Story
Much like Gus Van Sant’s remake of Psycho in 1998, Yakuza Kiwami is an almost frame for frame remake of the original Yakuza title in 2005. The game sticks to it’s recent tradition of featuring Japanese dub only dialogue with English subtitles (although some argue that Mark Hamill as Goro Majima was close to his performance as The Joker…) There’s no shortage of quirky characters in Kiwami with fan favorites from Yakuza 0, Nishkiyama, Pocket Circuit Fighter, and even Bob Utsunomiya coming back to make the world of Kiwami feel alive.
The story follows that of the first game; you play as Kiryu who has to find out what happened to the lost 10 billion yen from the Tojo Clan. On the way, you meet Haruka, a girl who is somehow connected to the lost money. In the background is Kiryu’s friend turned enemy, Akira Nishkiyama, who has a strong hate towards Kiryu. The plot is a convoluted one and can get confusing at times. But if you follow it, and follow it well, you’ll be at the edge of your seat wanting more.
I like to follow Sean Poole’s $1 = 1 hour mechanic which means every hour I play equates to $1 spent on the game. If I pay $60 for a game, I want 60 hours of enjoyment. With 0, I clocked in about 150+ hours
Overall, it comes without saying that this game is the perfect remake. It brings everything to a fresh, modern perspective while still keeping its originality. Available for half the cost of Yakuza 0, the game comes new at around $30 USD. That’s hard to beat for so much content in one game!