I’ll admit, when Yakuza 7 was announced, the first mainline game in the franchise since Kazuma Kiryu’s story concluded, I was highly sceptical. Any new protagonist would have big shoes to fill, after all. And then there’s the fact that it’s turn-based. There’s a lot to take in.
Thankfully Yakuza 7 is a lot of fun, and is a loving tribute to JRPGs and many other games besides. It all begins not with new hero Ichiban Kasuga, but with a glimpse into the life of Masumi Arakawa, head of the Arakawa Clan, itself a small family under the Tojo Clan. Arakawa hasn’t had it easy – among other things his son was left disabled after Masumi had to hide him in a train station locker (!) as an infant. In typical Yakuza fashion, Arakawa saves teenage Ichiban’s life, who then swears fealty to him and later goes to prison in his stead.
When Ichiban gets out of prison in 2019, 18 years after his incarceration, the world has changed rapidly, but the biggest shock is probably that the Arakawa family has joined the Omi Alliance, famously the nemesis of the Tojo Clan Arakawa originally served. When Ichiban tries to demand an explanation from Arakawa, his former saviour shoots him.