The Yakuza series is known for its fast-paced action, awesome mini-games, exceptionally written stories, and wild side quests. Your experience with a Yakuza game can vary widely depending on how much you choose to explore the game itself. If you want to just play the main story and be done with these games you may have them done in a normal amount of time.
When you start to get into the side content of these games, you’ll see your save files easily start to push 100 hours. Either way, these games are guaranteed to leave a lasting impression. So let’s fire up that karaoke mic and look at the top 5 Yakuza games!
If you don’t like crime dramas then this is going to be a tough list for you to get through. If you don’t like crime dramas, are you sure you’re reading the right list? Yakuza: Lost Judgement is, as you would guess, a straight-up crime drama. You play private detective Takayuki Yagami on his investigations through Kamurochō.
Though the stealth sections and forced parkour were questionable at times, you’ll have trouble finding much else to complain about. With an improved combat system, you can cycle through multiple fighting styles on the fly, showcasing Yakuzas’ phenomenal fighting mechanics. With its compelling story, unforgettable characters, and a dash of legal drama, Yakuza: Lost Judgment earns its place among the best in the Yakuza franchise, showcasing the series’ ability to evolve while staying true to its roots.
4. Yakuza 6: The Song of Life
Yakuza 6: The Song of Life serves as the culmination of Kazuma Kiryu’s epic saga, offering players an emotional farewell to the Dragon of Dojima. As Kiryu finds himself entangled in a web of conspiracies and familial ties, the game explores themes of legacy, fatherhood, and the enduring bonds of the yakuza brotherhood.
The Song of Life not only delivers the flashy fights and vibrant side activities synonymous with the series but also introduces a new engine, providing a visually stunning backdrop to Kiryu’s final chapter. With a rich narrative, impactful character arcs, and the soulful backdrop of Onomichi, Yakuza 6 earns its place among the best, leaving a mark on the Yakuza legacy.
Yakuza: Judgement follows the gripping story of Takayuki Yagami, the former lawyer turned private detective we met in entry number 5. In the neon-lit streets of Kamurocho, Yagami must fight his way through deceit, murder, and betrayal if he’s going to solve the case. Judgment not only introduces a fresh protagonist who can hold his own but also a new legal-themed spin on the classic Yakuza formula.
Adding the legal twist to the game made it stand out to most players as a successful attempt to branch out. As we will find out, this led to the team taking even bigger leaps down the line.
2. Yakuza 7: Like a Dragon
Yakuza 7: Like a Dragon is a very polarizing entry, but deserves to be here. The franchise made a unique decision in changing the gameplay to a turn-based RPG, but most would argue it was a great decision. I know I put over 100 hours into this one and had so much more left to explore. Yakuza 7 introduces Ichiban Kasuga, the adorable idiot who thinks he’s living in his own personal RPG. The story shines here and keeps you on your toes, but aren’t afraid to get silly.
Like a Dragon not only earns its spot among the best in the franchise but also showcases the series’ willingness to evolve. I can speak from experience, the game will come to a grinding halt just before the end as you hit a difficulty curve that you would never normally be ready for. It is well worth it to finish this game though because, if you’re not picking up on this yet Yakuza games are about story, and you need to see how this one ends. Yakuza 7 is getting a direct sequel titled Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, coming to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S on January 26, 2024.
It was a tough call for me putting 0 over 7, but it’s the right thing to do. Yakuza 0 is a prequel to the entire series, focusing on the origin stories of two familiar faces, Kazuma Kiryu and Goro Majima. The overwhelming majority of fans have deemed Yakuza 0 to be the best in the series.
The story, characters, and environment make this not only a fan favourite but a highly recommended entry to start your first Yakuza journey with. Would you recommend Yakuza 0 to a first-time player? Are there any entries you think should have been on the list? Let us know in the comments below!