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Yakuza 6: The Song of Life Preview: Hard Knocks

/ Jun 28th, 2017 No Comments

Yakuza 6: The Song of Life Preview

Yakuza 6: The Song of Life marks a new chapter for Kiryu Kazuma. Kiryu is going to learn what family truly means and the depths of sacrifice. Haruka, Kiryu’s surrogate daughter, gets in a car accident and protects her son from the crash. Kiryu finds himself in possession of her son. It won’t be easy keeping the baby safe because the identity of the son’s father and the mystery of why the baby is so important will bring him into heated conflict.

Many new fans may be jumping onto the series after Yakuza 0 and after Yakuza: Kiwami comes out in August, but they shouldn’t worry about this being the sixth title in the Yakuza series. Unlike Yakuza 5, Yakuza 6: The Song of Life seems like as much a jumping on point as a continuation of Kiryu’s saga. The presence of Haruto and a new location, in addition to Kamurocho, should provide a fresh start.

An Immovable Object

I played a demo of Yakuza 6 at E3 2017, and the tone was markedly different than what we’ve come to expect from the Yakuza series. It is much more somber, with Kiryu walking across the quiet and empty streets of Onomichi, a sleepy harbor town in the Hiroshima Prefecture. The baby Kiryu is carrying is the orphan son of Haruka.

Kiryu finds a bar to regroup at, and he strikes up a conversation with the owner, a kindly middle-age lady whom has a soft spot for Haruto, Haruka’s son. She takes Kiryu into the bar and looks for a basket that’ll fit Haruto. While she searches for the basket, a drunk and surly Yakuza knocks back drinks and chats her up.

Naturally, the conversation turns lewd and Kiryu steps in because he can’t ignore the man’s rudeness. The two trade barbs for a short while — Kiryu doesn’t talk for long before he has to teach someone a lesson, and a drunk Yakuza leader doesn’t take kindly to being lectured by some nobody.

The core principle for conflicts in the Yakuza series is Kiryu’s unbreakable code of honor and others not being able to live up to that code. This is fully in tact in Yakuza 6.

Soon, the two men head outside to an alley away from the bar to duke it out. The Yakuza leader is still drunk, making his punches slow and imprecise. He is logy, which is not a good thing when you’re fighting the Dragon of Dojima. The speed advantage is welcomed for Kiryu because his punches are heavier and slower.

Yakuza 6: The Song of Life Preview

Karaoke is going to be a thing for you in Yakuza 6.

Time has taken a toll on the Dragon, but here is no less ferocity in his punches. They hit as hard before, if not a little harder as each punch thrown takes more out of him, making every punch more measured.

The fight isn’t pretty between Kiryu’s age and the Yakuza’s drunkenness. It is every bit the hard-knuckled street fight you’d imagine a scuffle stemming from a bar would be. Yet what it lacks in beauty, it makes up for in intensity and immediacy. You feel every punch thrown and every blow taken, making the fight much more visceral.

Yakuza 6: The Song of Life Preview

Squats are essential to keep Kiryu’s aging body in order.

Anyone who has played the Yakuza series knows combat is where the games shine brightest. In Yakuza 6, combat feels better than ever before with smoother action. The new “Dragon Engine” is to thank for that as everything in the game has been built from the ground up with brand new animations.

Yakuza 6 also looks gorgeous thanks to the Dragon Engine, too. Onomichi has a sense of place right off the bat due to the impressive environments and atmosphere. During cutscenes in Yakuza 0, you could see incredible facial detail down to the pores, and in Yakuza 6 that level of detail is rendered in-engine, making Kiryu and his surroundings come to life.

Reasonable Hype

The short demo gave a glimpse at some of the story, combat and a few of the mini-games that will make up Yakuza 6: The Song of Life. That small taste was enough to make it one of my most anticipated games of next year.

Whether you’re deep into the Yakuza series or brand new to it, Yakuza 6 should be on your radar for early 2018.


Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs
Kalvin Martinez

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