It’s fair to find Yakuza 6: The Song of Life intimidating at first. It’s the sixth entry in a long-running series that’s heavily steeped in Japanese culture. But as producer Sam Mullen told us during a hands-on preview with the final chapter in Kiryu Kazama’s saga, there are plenty of entry points for newcomers. While the localization team doing the heavy lifting to make Yakuza accessible to Western players, Mullen showed us that there are plenty of parts that transcend cultural differences.
One of those things is the absurd image of a stoic man pouring his heart into an original Japanese ballad, getting so invested that he’s transported into another world entirely. Another is the simple catharsis of dunking on street punks who think they’re strong enough to take on a trained yakuza. (Spoiler: They’re not.) And we’ve already shared what may be the funniest moment in the early part of Yakuza 6: a sidequest in which Kiryu becomes everyone’s favorite mascot, Ono Michio-kun.
We also got to check out a surprisingly neat new game mode, the Clan Creator, where Kiryu gets to cobble together people he meets from his journey into a fighting squad. From there, he can direct them in fights against other enemies — so if you want to watch some fights instead of taking part in them, this is a nice mode to kick back with.
These myriad moments make Yakuza 6 a refreshingly quirky open-world game, one that we felt comfortable jumping into with minimal setup. (We even took a break to play Virtua Fighter 5 and Puyo Puyo, both of which are accessible in full from the main menu.) Watch our preview above to see just how the team at Sega made Yakuza 6 an accessible experience ahead of its April 17 launch on PlayStation 4.