SEGA’s Yakuza series has been the kind of slow-burning success story that we so rarely see in the video games industry. Since debuting in 2005 with the original Yakuza on the PlayStation 2, it’s grown from a cult-appeal curiosity to something approaching a triple-A staple, with new high-definition entries in the series, and remakes of older titles alike, attracting incredible critical acclaim and sales figures to match.
And then there’s Judgment, too, a spin-off to the series released last month and, for this gamer at least, is right up there with the best games of the year so far.
Back in March, we got our first real information on the next game in the Yakuza series, and that it’ll release with PlayStation 4 as its lead platform. Nevertheless, SEGA now sees Yakuza as a multi-platform franchise, having ported Yakuza 0, and the remakes of Kiwami 1 and 2, to PC – and it’s via PC Gamer that we receive word that more details will be coming out soon, on the series’ next step.
A tweet from Yakuza developers Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio, at @RyuOnline_PR, shows that an announcement will be made, on the next Yakuza title, on 29 August. Which works out pretty well timing wise, as we know that SEGA is showing said title off at Gamescom in Cologne the week before (so don’t be surprised if coverage from that event is embargoed until 29 August).
We know that this game *isn’t* Yakuza 7, with its working title already announced as Shin Ryu Ga Gotoku (which translates as Like A New Dragon), and that it won’t star the regular series protagonist, Kazuma Kiryu, whose story was wrapped up in 2016’s Yakuza 6: The Song of Life. For this one, we’re pretty sure that the player-controlled character is Ichiban Kasuga, who appears in the tweet above and who was the main protagonist of the Japan-only collectible card game, Yakuza Online (AKA Ryū ga Gotoku Online in Japan itself).
This August 29 press conference will mark an important moment for the Yakuza series, as it moves past its original hero and into an uncertain future. Could it be that we see a number of Judgment-like games with alternating lead characters? Will Shin Ryu Ga Gotoku feature any familiar faces, or present a clean-slate start-over for SEGA? We know the main story of Shin Ryu Ga Gotoku is locked in, so we’re expecting a healthy dose of scene-setting teaser action at the end of next month. Get your Heat-boosting energy drinks ready – this could be big.