The Insight: Our 15 Year Old Writer Loves Yakuza 6’s Action. The Video Narrative? Not So Much.

By Desiree Bonilla

At times, Yakuza 6: The Song of Life almost feels like Grand Theft Auto. I remember watching the trailer and thinking about how this game would be fun since there was so much action. It reminds me of the fighting in Sleeping Dogs. Although I have never played the entire Yakuza series, this game was very entertaining when I dove into this world.

In Yakuza 6, main character Kazuma Kiryu is released from his three-year sentence for assault. When he goes home to the orphanage that he owns, he finds out his 19-year-old daughter, Haruka, is missing. Kiryu then sets out on a mission to find her. While in Kamurocho, Kiryu’s old stomping grounds, he learns that Haruka was struck by a car and is now in a coma. He also discovers she has a baby named Haruto. Kiryu then makes it his mission to discover what exactly happened to Haruka and to unravel the dark secret that the Hiroshima Yakuza is hiding.

Although the plot may sound like gangland meets a telenovella, playing the game is a whole different story. Here, you fight thugs in the streets and earn points to upgrade your health, defense, stamina, or to learn new moves. The fighting is what really entertains me. You pick up weapons from the ground, dodge attacks, and do combos. For example, if you press square repeatedly, buttons will start to pop up on the screen, and when you complete the combo sequence, Kiryu will start to punch faster. When I first did a combo, I felt so excited. The way Kiryu would pick up speed with punches and kicks would make me thrilled to keep on fighting more opponents. (But it gets really annoying when the thugs chase you to fight.)

If your health is low, you can heal up by eating food, but eating too much has consequences. When ordering food, you will see an image of a stomach on the left side of the screen. Whenever you click on a food, the stomach will fill up, and if the stomach is filled to the top it will indicate that you’re full. Now, I know you must be thinking that having a full stomach would be good, but it actually is not. When you have a full stomach, your health starts to decline a little bit. I actually found this very creative because I have never seen a game in which developers decided that eating too much should do more harm than good. 

Another thing I found really interesting about the game was that you receive text messages that tell you how to play or what certain things are used for. For instance, when Kiryu heads out to find Haruka, he gets a text message that teaches you how to save the game or change outfits. The reason I found this amusing was that you were able to send little stickers back, like a thumbs up or an okay. That makes it feel more real.

I think Yakuza 6 is a very enjoyable game to play, but if I could change one thing, it would definitely be the cinematic scenes. They’re just extremely long and often boring and sometimes makes me want to not even play the game. But besides that, I would say Yakuza 6 is an amazing game.

Desiree Bonilla is a New York Videogame Critics Circle intern, part of our ongoing partnership with the Bronx’s Dreamyard Prep School.

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