Yakuza Kiwami is an action-adventure video game developed by Sega. It is a remake of Yakuza, the first game in the Yakuza series, originally released on Sony’s PlayStation 2. Yakuza Kiwami was released on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 in Japan on January 21, 2016, and on PlayStation 4 in Europe and North America on August 29, 2017. It was also ported for Microsoft Windows worldwide on Steam on February 19, 2019, and was released on Xbox One on April 21, 2020.
Like the original PlayStation 2 game, Yakuza Kiwami explores the life of a man named Kazuma Kiryu who is demoted from his clan after taking the blame for his boss’s murder. After a decade in prison, Kiryu searches for his old friends who have gone missing. The remake adds extra elements to the story, including Akira Nishikiyama’s corruption during Kiryu’s imprisonment and constant struggles between Kiryu and his rival Goro Majima. The gameplay was improved to resemble the prequel Yakuza 0, adding more depth to the fighting system.
Sega had ideas to remake the first Yakuza game in 2015 as part of the series’ 10th anniversary but were unsure about developing due to their team focused on making Yakuza 0. Following the success of Yakuza 0, Sega started working on the remake of the first game and aimed to add new elements to the story while trying to make it more enjoyable than the original game. The game was well received, earning positive sales. Critics praised the simplicity of the gameplay but were divided by the handling of the storyline and pacing. Yakuza Kiwami was followed up by Yakuza 6: The Song of Life later in 2016, and another remake based on the second game titled Yakuza Kiwami 2 was also released in 2018.
Like the original game, Yakuza Kiwami is an action-adventure game with role-playing elements set in an open world environment and played from a third-person perspective. The player controls protagonist Kazuma Kiryu as he explores the streets of Kamurocho, a fictional district of Tokyo based on the real-life Kabukichō district. In addition to the main story, players will randomly encounter enemies on the street to battle, as well as meet people that will offer Kiryu side quests which can be completed for rewards.
Yakuza Kiwami entirely forgoes the combat system of the original game; its combat is largely similar to the prequel Yakuza 0. Just like 0, Kiwami features four fighting styles that the player can switch between in combat: the balanced Brawler style, the slow and heavy Beast style, the weak but quick Rush style, and Kiryu’s traditional Dragon style. Players will earn both money and experience points by defeating enemies or completing side quests. Experience points can be used to acquire upgrades for Kiryu such as new techniques or an extension to his health bar. Money can be spent to purchase equipment or healing items, or to play various minigames and side-activities such as gambling, karaoke, and the card battle game Mesuking. Completing certain objectives will also grant the player special Completion Point currency; this CP can be spent to receive additional bonuses, such as special items or character upgrades.
Kiwami introduces a new gameplay system called “Majima Everywhere”, which replaces the Mr. Shakedown system previously present in Yakuza 0, in which rival character Goro Majima will appear frequently to challenge Kiryu to a fight. Majima will appear randomly during exploration, as well as in predetermined challenges based on the player’s progress in Majima Everywhere. Majima will also sometimes appear when playing a minigame (like darts or bowling) and will challenge Kiryu. Defeating Majima in different scenarios will increase the player’s Majima Everywhere rank and unlock new abilities in Kiryu’s Dragon style.