I think it has probably been 10 or 15 years since I sat down and really went head-down on a game for a solid weekend and since I had some extra time around the Labor Day weekend I decided to invest it in a mental health reset by plowing through the Yakuza series. While I still have a working PlayStation 2 I decided to give the remakes a try. The series in general is a mashup of beat 'em up, action-adventure, and rpg games with open-world and strategy elements. The side stories are pretty varied and add a tremendous amount to the story and world building. I started with Yakuza Kiwami and it is alarmingly beautiful given it was also released as a PlayStation 3 game.
I was struck by not only how well written the game is, but how well they incorporate little winks and nods to the player, letting you know while the series is thematically heavy, it doesn't take itself too seriously. It even manages to have a child character involved in a way that doesn't become annoying or feel like needless baggage. It's a well balanced game with some honest laugh out loud moments and some characters you can invest yourself in. The exploration is rewarding, with what seems like an endless supply of things to discover and most importantly the combat feels really good most of the time. Many of the boss fights are tough and therefore satisfying when you finally land that last blow to send them flying into oblivion. I finished the game with about 50% total completion in about 40 hours played. I still want to go back and go through more of the side content, though I did move on to Yakuza Kiwami 2 first as my vacation was coming to a close.
I don't know when I'll be able to go head down into more of the series but I am glad I did. I feel refreshed and re-invigorated. It was a delightful distraction from not only work but from the general day-to-day stress that seems to have become such a pervasive part of life.