Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Sep 112023

Over the weekend, I finished playing Yakuza 6: The Song of Life.

I feel like I’ve come full circle in some ways. I remember Yakuza 6 being advertised while I was a new fan having just gotten into the series with Yakuza 0. Having the whole series ahead of me was both daunting and exciting. It was wonderful to read previews of Yakuza 6 and know I was going to love this series. So it’s almost nostalgic to finally reach the game that was just coming out when I got started.

Immediately after the end of Yakuza 5, Kiryu is placed under arrest for dubious reasons. He decides to accept it, believing serving a sentence in prison will allow him to live a normal life once he gets out.

However, Haruka is now under scrutiny by the media, which is bringing unwanted attention to the orphanage, so she leaves in order to take the pressure off of them. When Kiryu gets out of prison a few years later, the group has lost contact with Haruka entirely, and so he heads out to investigate her disappearance.

The Yakuza series is sometimes compared to a soap opera, and Yakuza 6 is the most soap opera of them all. It has a much more personal and emotional story – but don’t misunderstand, it isn’t long before the personal plot ties into yakuza politics and the usual sorts of convoluted conspiracies. So many different factions come into play that I had trouble remembering who was associated with who, and one plot point made me look up additional context to understand the ramifications, but fortunately it lacks the sort of plot holes that bothered me in 4 and 5.

It’s one of the shorter games in the series due to having fewer substories than most, but it has several enjoyable side activities that I had a great time with, including one where you befriend cats around the city for a cat café, which is the cutest thing.

(I half-jokingly tweeted that it would be a 10/10 game if you could pet the cats, before learning that if you sit down in the café, a cat will eventually hop onto Kiryu’s lap to be petted.)

There’s also a spear-fishing mini-game that I’d love to see return someday. It’s basically a rail shooter where you take down as many fish as possible, including a dangerous boss fish at the end of each stage, and it was a lot of fun.

The only thing I really dislike about Yakuza 6 is its version of the hostess clubs. While the past few games used a system that felt as though you were participating in a conversation, 6 instead gives you a list of “cards,” each with a question, statement, request, etc. categorized under various conversation types. By chaining together the same conversation types, you get more points. It felt a bit more like a mini-game, but at the expense of being less like a realistic conversation than ever. As far as I could tell, there’s no way to see your progress toward the next rank, either. I stuck with it because each hostess had a substory, but even those were all very boring and bland compared to other substories. However, one hostess is canonically a Sephiroth fan, and conversations with her made it all worthwhile.

Overall, I loved my time with Yakuza 6. It has a personal, often emotional story with plenty of intense moments, enough humor to balance its darker moments, and a decent array of fun side content.

Next up for me is Yakuza: Like a Dragon, with just under two months to play it if I want to finish it in time for Gaiden! But whether I get to play Gaiden at launch or not, I’m on the edge of my seat waiting to see where this story goes.

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  3 Responses to “Yakuza 6: The Song of Life – An Emotional Ride from Start to Finish”

  1. I did think I liked this hostess thing a little better than the last few games.
    If only RL had multiple choice cards to choose from in conversations .HA #introvert

  2. […] had high praise for it in my review, and while working on this list, I realized that I like it more than the previous game, despite all […]

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