Summary: Yakuza Kiwami shows how far the franchise has come by bringing the original into the modern age mostly successfully. It can't break out of the shell of its original design, but the improvements all lead to a pretty great package.
Top Critic Average
An entertaining but slightly unbalanced remake whose biggest draw is a regular distraction from one of the series' best stories.
Yakuza Kiwami makes great strides in updating the classic original Yakuza game to modern standards. But while it adds better combat, bizarrely charming side quests, and a gorgeous graphical revamp, it also ignores some of the original's biggest problems in pacing and storytelling. And because of its relatively short length, Yakuza Kiwami's fun trip through the tangled web of Japan's criminal underground feels like a prelude to something bigger and better to come.
Suffers in comparison to Yakuza 0, but is still a compelling drama and an important part of the series as a whole.
The original Yakuza has been remade into a sequel to its own prequel, but although it's perfectly competent it feels outdated compared to the newer entries.
Yakuza Kiwami is a sprawling adventure, but – as enhanced as it is – it's clearly a foundational entry in the series
Yakuza Kiwami picks up where Yakuza Zero left off, upholding its dramatic storytelling, offbeat humor, and flashy yet frustrating combat.
Yakuza Kiwami makes it clear just how far the series has come, and just how far it still has to go. It's keenly designed to bring newly minted Yakuza fans more firmly into the fold by providing all the contemporary comforts they might expect, while also giving longtime fans more to chew on than a shot-for-shot remake ever would have. It's a patchwork, for better and for worse, and as much as I enjoyed my time with it, there's no denying that some of those patches are looking more tired than others.
Kiwami has a much smaller scope than something like Yakuza 0 but I think that also gives it a lot of focus. While the series is now famous for side quests and random activities, Kiwami has a focus and drive to it that I really enjoyed by the end.
Sega remastered the original Yakuza in high style. Using an updated engine, the team behind the series added new character models, re-recorded voice acting, and an expanded city of Kamurocho, all in 1080p at 60 fps. Yakuza Kiwami bleeds love for the original game. If you haven't played any Yakuza, this is the release to get. If you have, this is a great remaster of a former cult-favorite. It's not as full-featured as current Yakuza release, but it's still a great time.