5 Best Yakuza Games of All Time, Ranked
Yakuza games have been around for over a decade, with its first release in December, 2005. Since then, the Japanese media franchise has worked towards releasing eight main chronological games. Out of these, some were great hits, while others fairly missed the mark.
Thankfully, more recent games are now being released in the West, propelling its well-deserved acclamation worldwide. In case you’d like to play previous games, Yakuza fans have made translations available. While at it, if you’re wondering which releases received the most recognition, this article will help you explore five of the best Yakuza games of all time. Let’s dive right in.
5. Judgment (2018)
In addition to the main releases, Sega worked on a few spin-offs, one of which was Judgment. Unlike the main releases, Judgment introduced a new lawyer-turned-detective protagonist whose drive for justice reels you right in. His story is quite different, though as the game progresses into the more familiar Kamurocho setting of previous games, it brings us into the world of Yakuza.
Fans and critics alike commend the attention to detail in the new story. The protagonist's storyline, from his origins to his immersion in the Yakuza world of crime, is well thought out and executed flawlessly. That said, the combat and mechanics of the game fit right in with Yakuza games making this spin-off a part of the franchise (with a different name). Gamers get to experience the hands-on action-adventure gameplay comparable to previous main releases.
The only notable con is the lost opportunity in a more satisfying detective gameplay. Fans feel the idea in carrying out a brutal murder case could have been better and the trailing missions made shorter. Still, the decent writing and robust gameplay propels this spin-off to one of the top five games to play.
4. Yakuza 6: The Song of Life (2016)
Yakuza 6 marks the end of the story of its protagonist, Kazuma Kiryu. It is the seventh main entry in the Yakuza franchise, and follows the chronological format of Yakuza games. As is expected with a wrap-up of primary protagonists in long-running franchises, Sega chose to tell a fatherhood emotional story in retrospect to Kazuma’s legacy and crime fighting days.
In a bid to advance gameplay and graphic styling, Sega used the brand-new Dragon Engine. As a result, Yakuza 6 stood out among its predecessors in game design, styling, and detail in its open-world environment. Coupled with an emotionally thrilling story to wrap up the series, Yakuza 6 took its finale to worldwide recognition among its fans. If you are already familiar with Kazuma's previous struggles and fight against the Yakuza's criminal lifestyle, you will undoubtedly have a more profound impact while playing this game.
On the other hand, Yakuza 6 focused entirely on bringing a satisfying ending to Kazuma Kiryu’s story. As a result, the game took away screen time from its other fan favorite characters like Goro Majima. Nevertheless, its advanced combat system, graphics, and an outstanding ending to previous storylines make it a top mention in the franchise’s best games of all time.
3. Yakuza Kiwami 2 (2017)
Yakuza Kiwami 2 is a remake of the second main entry in the franchise. Given Yakuza 2’s release in 2006 and the technology available at the time, the game had foggy graphics with non-impressive fighting styles. However, Sega utilized its new Dragon Engine to remake Yakuza 2 into a new and improved version titled Yakuza Kiwami 2.
Without a doubt, the remake does not disappoint. Beyond refining graphics and combat styles, Sega went further to introduce a new city in addition to Kamurocho. We also get introduced to an equally dangerous villain who also has a dragon tattoo on his back to match Kiryu’s experience. Additionally, the game adds a new story for the fan-favorite Majima Goro.
Fans and critics alike commend Yakuza Kiwami 2 for refining its previously confusing storylines. The game allows players to try their hands on a remake matching the standards of today’s game play mechanics. On the downside, Yakuza Kiwami 2 falls short on its attempt to remake Yakuza 2’s shortcomings. Since Yakuza 2 was a continuation of the first-ever Yakuza game release, the potential of its protagonist had only just begun to take root. Therefore, Kiryu’s accomplishment may seem insignificant to later editions and the final chapters a little rushed.
2. Yakuza: Like a Dragon (2020)
Sega’s latest eighth release of the Yakuza franchise ranks highly. Mainly because of its innovation in introducing a new protagonist and advancing its combat style. For starters, the newly goofy protagonist, Ichiban Kasuga, ties in with previous events to bring a fresh vibe to the franchise. You will experience a full-on role playing game style with a new turn-based combat system. You will also develop your ultimate team of secondary heroes with unique skills and abilities.
Like a Dragon also features a new setting that shifts the franchise to Yokohama and Isezaki Ijincho. For the franchise’s daring move of a breath of fresh air, and the great reception the game received, Like a Dragon definitely stands as one of the best Yakuza games of all time.
1. Yakuza 0 (2015)
Yakuza 0 is probably the entry that introduced you to the franchise. If not, it is definitely the game to look out for as it serves as a prequel to the rest of the games in the franchise. Yakuza 0 was first released in Japan. Later, Sega had a worldwide release that was unforgettable as gamers quickly welcomed it, propelling sales to over two million copies sold.
Fans and critics alike praised the detail in the game’s Tokyo of 1988. It inspired the low beginnings of popular Kiryu Kazuma’s life as a debt-collector and his nemesis, Goro Majima. With the game’s Yakuza styling, only dated back to the ‘80s, and an intriguing storyline in the series to date, you will definitely enjoy an outstanding character development of the characters we’ve come to love.
So there you go, the five best Yakuza games of all time, ranked. Do you agree with our listing? Let us know in our socials here or leave us a comment below.