Being centred on the criminal fraternities of Japan, the Yakuza series of action RPGs might seem intrinsically Japanese – but future games in the series might take place away from the Land of the Rising Sun.
That’s according to Kazuki Hosokawa, director of Lost Judgment, the upcoming spin-off to Sega’s crime saga. In an interview with TheGamer, Hosokawa said future games in the franchise may take characters “to new countries with new locations to explore, battles to fight, and mysteries to uncover”.
Quite how fans of the series would respond to that is another matter though. Since Yakuza debuted on PS2 back in 2005, a quintessential part of its charm has been just how rooted in Japanese culture it is, from the detailed recreation of real-world locations, only vaguely fictionalised under variant names – the real Kabuki-cho being pseudonymised as Kamuro-cho, for instance – to staples of contemporary night life, with characters visiting hostess bars or spending time at karaoke.
However, developer Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio has also proven itself more than capable of evolving the series in interesting ways, with plenty of spin-offs over the last 16 years highlighting the versatility of the property. Yakuza has seen games set in Feudal Japan, a zombie apocalypse, and even a crossover based on long-running manga and anime series Fist of the North Star, while both Judgment games take place on the other side of the law from the core games.
Even entries in the main series have increasingly mixed things up, with the most recent – Yakuza: Like a Dragon – swapping to a brand new protagonist and opting for a turn-based battle system. It was a big shift for the series, but one that proved successful enough that turn-based will now be the Yakuza games’ standard, going forwards.
While there’s no news of the next Yakuza game yet, with Lost Judgment the next in the wider franchise to be released when it arrives on Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PS5, and PS4 on September 24, Hosokawa’s musings could hint at where the series goes next.
In other Japanese news, CD Projekt Red is running a Kickstarter for a new manga that reimagines The Witcher as a Yokai hunter in feudal Japan.