Let's be honest, replicating the award-winning recipe that Yakuza cradles like a newborn baby isn't something any John, Dick, or Jane can do. In fact, given the number of genres each entry to the series boasts, attempting such a feat is next to impossible. Taking a few strands of hair from it, however, is another story, and one that few have been able to get away with. But as far as full-blown Yakuza siblings go, the market is disappointingly vacant.
That being said, the few that have managed to board the same wavelength as Yakuza have often gone on to succeed both locally and internationally. Although a far cry from the true source, each have possessed outstanding qualities that even Sega itself has gladly showered with praise. So, if you're on the market for the next best thing to Yakuza, then be sure to give these a shot.
5. Lost Judgement
We'll put our hands up and say, in spite of what we said about none of the following games being bound by blood, Lost Judgement, for lack of a better word, is the brother of the Yakuza series. Though, this will be as close as we'll get to seeing such a close-knit family, as both the Judgement and Yakuza factions rarely onboard any other series—even for spin-off purposes.
Lost Judgement serves as a sequel to the 2018 chapter Judgement. Like Yakuza, the game is rifled with more genres than you could dare fathom. Outside of the detective work that makes up the bulk of the lengthy story, there's parkour, karaoke, eating out, and even skateboarding. The semi open-world environment provides an entire playground for you to roam, leaving you to your own devices. Everything tells a story, and it's your choice on which chapters you want to hear.
For a game that came out back in 1999, Shenmue still holds up surprisingly well, especially when it comes to its visuals. Of course, its mechanics are a little lackluster compared to today's standards, but it's a credit to the action-adventure genre. It's also a series that helped pave the way for so many other games of its kind—including Yakuza.
Decades apart, and yet both on a very similar wavelength. With martial arts playing a key role in both tales, the two share that all-encompassing mutual connection. Between brawls, each game tells a riveting story that unravels at the touch. So, not all that different, given the six year release gap. Different tones, sure, but similar in more ways than one.
3. Sleeping Dogs
As far as popular video game series over on the Western front go, True Crime is, and always will be one of the greats. Sadly, its Hong Kong chapter, which was eventually rebranded as Sleeping Dogs under the Square Enix banner, was a criminally underrated continuation of the series. Despite having all the best-selling charms that captivated the seasoned fans of the series, the Chinese subdomain fell worryingly short.
In spite of the fairly low praise the game received on launch, Sleeping Dogs was still an absolute blast to play, as well as one of the best open world games of its decade. How was it similar to the Yakuza games? Well, you could sing karaoke anthems, for starters. Throw that in with an advanced Arkham-style combat system, and you basically had gold, served on a silver platter.
2. The Warriors
If The Warriors featured more karaoke and less car thefts, then you could almost say it was on the same track as Yakuza. I mean, sort of. Gangs, street brawls, random arcade machines, and open-world suburban districts — basically everything the earliest Yakuza games pushed to acquire, for sure.
Although oceans apart, the similarities between the two hit series are somewhat hard to miss. With both heavily relying on beat 'em up gameplay, it's clear the two thrived to reach the same audience. Both hit the ball out of the park, and that counts for something. And so, while you won't be getting a complete Yakuza experience with Rockstar's video game adaptation of the cult classic movie, you will be treated to a thread of features that flow from a similar vein.
1. Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise
Like Lost Judgement, Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise borrows its basic structure from Yakuza. All three being projects sewn by Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio, the similarities come expected, though it is hard to put Yakuza anywhere other than the top of the food chain when slotting them all side-by-side.
To be fair, the fact Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise uses the same voice talent from the Yakuza series just goes to show that the devs didn't want to stray too far from home with it. Prior to its release, they knew what would sell, as well as how to make a next-level video game. And so, other than the story, which was of course lightyears from the Yakuza lore, a lot was there. Ryu Ga Gotoku knew what they wanted, and they knew all too well they wouldn't have to uproot and leave home to obtain the results they set out to find.
So, what's your take? Do you agree with our top five? Let us know over on our socials here or down in the comments below.