Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Mar 062023
 

In the midst of our romance celebration last month, I also finished Yakuza 5, the third and final part of the Yakuza Remastered Collection.

Like Yakuza 4, Yakuza 5 features multiple protagonists, each of whom has a story you play through before their stories come together at the end.

But unlike Yakuza 4, where everyone’s story was set in Kamurocho, Yakuza 5 has each part set in a different city.

Moreover, not only does each character have their own slate of substories, but each part also includes a side story with its own story and set of missions.

For example, the first part follows Kiryu, who is now living in Nagasugai under a fake name and working as a taxi driver. So alongside all the usual Yakuza gameplay and substories, you also can take on taxi missions and racing missions. Each side story is unique and has its own systems.

All of this together means there’s a massive amount of side content in Yakuza 5. It’s a huge game, with a ton of optional things to do.

And it’s great! The substories are as entertaining as usual, and I loved the side stories. I started joking that if RGG had interest in any genre at all, they found a way to include it in Yakuza 5, because the side story gameplay is often completely different from the main game. Meanwhile, the combat is a step up from the previous entry and really felt a lot like Yakuza 0 to me.

(Yakuza 5 is also by far the most Christmas-themed Yakuza game so far.)

In terms of gameplay, there are only two real downsides in my opinion. First, the encounter rate is absurdly high. I could run into five battles just trying to reach a save point. Walking slowly past enemies to avoid battles is something I started to do more and more. Second, although there are five protagonists, there are only four side stories since two character share a part. I wish all five characters had a side story. On the other hand, though, that would make Yakuza 5 even longer than it is already, so maybe it’s for the best.

Each part also has an interesting story, but it’s when they start to come together that it runs into problems. This isn’t like Yakuza 4, where the story is dragged down by a couple ridiculous plot twists. No, the problem with Yakuza 5’s overarching story is that it just doesn’t make a lot of sense. Some aspects of the overarching story work and brought plot points together in a great way! Others, however, just left me saying, “Huh?”

Click for Yakuza 5 spoilers
The Kurosawa reveal? That was great, I started to have suspicions ahead of time, and I thought it worked great (aside from it being on the heels of the protagonists coming up with the stupidest plan imaginable to bait out the mastermind). His plan, however? It barely makes sense and feels complicated for the sake of being complicated.

Then there’s the whole Aizawa & Morinaga mess, which still doesn’t quite make sense to me.

It feels like certain twists and plot points were added solely to surprise the player, regardless of how much sense they actually make. There’s an interview from around when the game originally came out where producer and writer Yokoyama said he didn’t decide how the story would go ahead of time because he likes to surprise himself, and while I respect and appreciate that style of writing, it’s important to go through afterwards and make sure all the pieces line up.

But despite my criticisms of the overarching plot, Yakuza 5 is an incredible game with great moments, interesting story moments in each individual part, and so much fun side content to enjoy that even though story is one of my biggest priorities, I came out of Yakuza 5 loving it. For the overall game experience, I’d rank it near the top of the series.

So if you’re making your way through the Yakuza series and are wondering if you should pick up the Yakuza Remastered Collection, or you’ve played up through 4 and are wondering if you should dive into 5, it’s absolutely worthwhile.

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