Released in 2012 for the PS3 in Japan and in 2015 for other territories throughout the world, Yakuza 5 (龍が如く：夢叶えし者) is the fifth mainline game in the Yakuza series.
The game continues to follow the protagonist Kazuma Kiryu across his trials and tribulations throughout his former and current life as a Yakuza. This time, for the first time there are a total of five protagonists which is the most protagonists in a Yakuza game since Yakuza 4’s four protagonists. The five protagonists are
- Kazuma Kiryu
- Shun Akiyama
- Taiga Saejima
- Haruka Sawamura
- Tatsuo Shinada
Continuing with the number five (we’re not sure if this was done on purpose or just happened to fall this way in development), there are five specific locations that are accessible in the game and are said to have the most playable spots in the history of the franchise. The game received a re-master in 2019 in Japan and is also slated to be released worldwide shortly after for PS4.
War is Brooding Once Again – The Story of Yakuza 5
Yakuza 5 takes place in a more recent timeline than other games in the series had and starts with the 7th chairman of the Omi Alliance, Tsubasa Kurosawa walking the line between life and death due to lung cancer. The previous truce between the Omi Alliance and the Tojo Clan starts to break down as his death is drawing near.
This causes the Tojo Clan to add further strength to their organization by partnering up with other clans across Japan in order to make a new, stronger clan to combat the Omi Alliance. The game takes the pack through various locations across Japan in order to form alliances with other clans to rival the Omi Alliance. The locations that our allies will be traveling to are as follows:
- Kamurocho – Series staple location, a fictional location based on the real-world Shinjuku.
- Sotenbori – Making its return from Yakuza 2, it is a fictional location based on Dotenbori in Osaka.
- Nagasugai – A fictional location based on Nakasu in Fukuoka.
- Tsukimino – A fictional location based on Susukino in Hokkaido.
- Kineicho – A fictional location based on Sakae in Nagoya.
Throughout the story in Yakuza 5, you will meet many faces both familiar and new and they really add a good amount of flesh to the story of Yakuza 5. Some of those characters include:
- Kazuma Kiryu – The protagonist of the Yakuza series of games. He had been working his way towards starting his own subsidiary group within the Tojo Clan, but that dream is dashed when he takes the fall for the murder of the Dojima Family Patriarch, Sohei Dojima.
- Goro Majima – The somewhat twisted confidant of Kazuma Kiryu who believes that he is the only one who has the right to kill Kiryu. Later games, this has become more of a running joke between the two rather than something to really worry about.
- Haruka Sawamura – The surrogate/adopted daughter of Kazuma Kiryu. She has a calm persona who also helps keep Kiryu at bay.
- Taiga Saejima – Brother of Goro Majima and a former member of the Sasai Family of the Tojo Clan who later was a patriarch for his own family. He gained notoriety in his family by carrying out the 1985 Ueno Seiwa massacre.
- Shun Akiyama – A successful entrepreneur who has earned the title “The Lifeline of Kamurocho” thanks to his habit of lending people money who are down on their luck. He runs the businesses “Sky Finance” and “Club Elise” a hostess club. He is always willing to help people in need, even before putting his own needs into perspective.
- Daigo Dojima – The current and reluctant 6th chairman of the Tojo Clan. He is the son of the infamous, ruthless, and cruel, Sohei Dojima. He vowed to not follow his father’s path in being a ruthless successor to the Chairman.
Giving Birth to a Stronger Dragon – The development and acclaim of Yakuza 5
Yakuza games tend to follow the “yearly cycle” which has become fairly standard in today’s video game industry. There was a Yakuza game in some fashion each year leading up to the release of Yakuza 5.
Yakuza 5 however, had double the production time as previous titles and was intended to be a re-birth of the series, even being called “New Yakuza” by the developers as a hope to have one of the best stories and scripts in the series history. This seems to have paid off in dividends because the game was extremely well praised across all territories and critically acclaimed in Japan.
The obscenely famous Famitsu publication gave the game a 40/40 on its review which is the highest rating that a game could obtain from them. IGN gave the game an 8.4 out of 10, GameSpot gave it an 8 out of 10, and Destructoid gave it an 8/5 out of 10.
United States territories stated that the game has “engrossing storylines” and “pushes the PS3 to every ounce of its power” even going so far as to say that “it looks better than most recent next-gen releases”, considering it is a game running on what would be considered “last-gen” hardware.
Re-Writing History – Yakuza 5’s place in the world
We’ve covered the Yakuza series pretty in-depth through our other articles related to the series, so you should have a pretty good understanding of what the game offers or what the style of game that it is. I was actually thinking to myself about this last night, the Yakuza series is like a modern-day “Shen Mue”. But infinitely better. Especially with the voice acting.
If you haven’t started playing the Yakuza series, I, no we strongly recommend that you do.
They’re all available on PS4. The first two games are under the “Kiwami” and “Kiwami 2” for PS4. These are also on Steam. With the games being more accessible than ever, there really is no reason not to try them. Then, you can see for yourself just as to why the series is so acclaimed for being one of the best series of all time.
Take the dive, ride the wave, and get ready for a very, very, very engaging story that spans all of one’s emotions and senses leaving you wanting more every time you put the controller down.