At one point in time, the idea of the Yakuza games being available on Xbox seemed preposterous.
Exclusive to PlayStation consoles since the series was introduced way back in 2005, it was only after the release of the fifth game in Kiryu Kazuma’s saga that it eventually found its way onto another format, the Wii U, in 2013. The following year Yakuza 0 launched; the title that perhaps changed the fate of the franchise.
Thanks to Yakuza 0, the series finally really took off in the west, especially when the game was also made available on PC via Steam. That move opened the floodgates in fact, and so with the release of Yakuza 6: The Song of Life on Xbox One and PC, every mainline entry in the Yakuza series is now available on those formats as well as PS4. Needless to say, it’s a great time to be a Yakuza fan.
Continuing on from where Yakuza 5 left off, Yakuza 6: The Song of Life finds Kiryu Kazuma once again doing jail time. He does it for Haruka, hoping that once he’s out he can finally leave his past behind him and live peacefully with the children he has fostered at the Morning Glory Orphanage. But things don’t go according to plan. Returning to the orphanage upon his release, Haruka is nowhere to be found. Having run away due to believing that public scrutiny would have a negative impact on those around her, Kiryu vows to bring her back home.
Of course, his first port of call is Kamurocho, where Kiryu hopes some of his old contacts will be able to provide him with information to her whereabouts. To say anymore about Yakuza 6‘s story would be to spoil it for you, but it’s important to note that it also sends Kiryu to a new location. The sleepy port town of Onomichi is a welcome new wandering ground for Kiryu, presenting some fresh scenery free of the bright lights and hustle and bustle of Kamurocho. Though his time there is still full of drama and violent fights with Yakuza and other ruffians. This is a Yakuza game, after all.
The first game developed with the Dragon Engine, Yakuza 6: The Song of Life is visually a step up from the Yakuza Kiwami games, but it can’t match the beauty of Yakuza: Like a Dragon. After spending some time with the Xbox version of the game on Xbox Series X, I’d say it perhaps looks a little better than it did when I played on PS4 Pro back in 2018. Most noticeably, it loads much faster and performs better – those jumping into Yakuza 6 for the first time certainly shouldn’t have any complaints from a technical perspective.
What may be a little bit jarring for some, however, is the combat system. While a new Extreme Heat mode is added, allowing players to enter a powered-up state as long as Kiryu has heat, only one fighting style is available. For those coming to the game after Yakuza 0 or the Kiwami releases, it will undoubtedly feel like a step back. Those progressing from the remastered versions of Yakuza 3,4 or 5, however, will have already become accustomed to not having as many combat options, and will likely just be happy to be playing a game that looks and feels modern again. The issue won’t affect those jumping straight into Yakuza 6 without any prior knowledge of the series, either, something made possible by story recaps accessible from the game’s main menu.
As stated in my original review, Yakuza 6: The Song of Life is “a worthy send-off to the series’ charming star”. As ever, its storyline grips you like a vice once it’s got going, while its combat provides plenty of thrilling action. On top of that you have a typical wealth of side-activities to engage in, allowing you to spend as much time with Kiryu as you’d like before wrapping up his saga. Kiryu may not be at the forefront of the Yakuza series anymore, but we won’t forget him. It does make this last window into his life all the more worthy of your time though.
Yakuza 6: The Song of Life is available on PS4, Xbox One and PC. It’s also playable on PS5 and Xbox Series X/S thanks to backwards compatibility.