This review will not contain spoilers for YK2 after the game's fourth chapter (you must wait for the game to release August 28th for those). However, I will make reference references to the previous restart, Yakuza 0 and Yakuza Kiwami 1, so if you have not played them yet, it is the fair warning.
For those who are not familiar with the series, the Yakuza franchise has been following the exploration of Kazuma as he first tries to climb the power structure of Tokyo's Tojo clan in the early 1
It is during this crazy confusion that Kazuma meets and turns to a young girl, Haruka, who turns out to be the daughter of Yumi Sawamura, Kazuma childhood seed and love interest. After Yumi's death in the hands of Harukas father, Jingu (and the person responsible for the money takes heist initially), Kazuma takes the girl under the wing. Through YK1 Kazuma is standing with Tokyo police officer Makoto Date, the policeman who was originally assigned to Kiryu's murder, and eventually became one of Kazuma's closest friends.
While all this happens, Nishikiyama loses its bad thoughts. In Y0 Nishi and Kazuma were two peas in a pod. They grew up in the same orphanage, together with Yumi, and joined the Tojo Clan together to follow the footsteps of Shintaro Kazama, their adoptive father and captain of the Dojima family. Ten years later, as Kiryu rotates in a cell, Nishikiyama's personal mission will rise in the wake of clan leadership and step out of the shadow of his blood brother for once failed. He has proved to be an incompetent leader, bullied by his subordinates who insist on muscles into the other family's ditches to collect money for an illegal heart transplant for Nishikiyama's sister.
When the transplant goes south, Nishikiyama tries to commit seppuku, but instead substitutes all stabby with its bullying, thus completing its change to a villain bent on Kiryu Kazuma's destruction. But by the end of YK1 Nishi comes to his senses and atons for his sins against Kiryu by blowing up 10 billion yen – together with himself and Jingu – to keep the money out of the hands of the secret government agency like Haruka father worked for.
That brings us to YK2 sat one year after the end of 10 billion yen heist. Kazuma has retired as the fourth chairman of the Tojo Clan in favor of a silent life raid Haruka. The plan comes to a crash when an assassin's bull threatens to embarrass both the Kamurochos Tojo clan and Osaka's Omi alliance in an east-west bloodbath. On behalf of the Tojo Clan, Kazuma comes out of retirement to deliver a peace agreement to Omi together with the chairman's successor. Unfortunately, peace of mind fails when a Korean mafia group kidnaps the Omi Alliance chairman, as well as the successor to the two. The race to restore them safely and to ward off the interwar war serves as the overall quest of the game.
That's not to say that's the only thing you want to do during the game. As with the rest of the franchise, YK2 is packed with more than 70 substances and page jobs, countless mini-games – including a return of the popular Hostess Club boat from Y0 (as well as fan-favorite Yuki, the irrepressibly plucky hostess-turn-club owner) – and an almost inexhaustible completion list. I have already put 50 plus hours into the game and still feel that I have barely made a hole in the number of leads to try. There are almost too many things to do, especially if you try to follow a plot as intricate as this without keeping big notes. Although a new, new addition to YK2 is the Substory Finder tool that automatically marks the locations of people who can help you on the map so you do not use your days to go to random NPCs and try to talk to them.
If all these plotted twists sounds difficult to keep track of, it's because they are. But that's what makes the Yakuza series such a treat to play. The vast extent of its storytelling – from the big action arches to the backgrounds of the girls working in the host club – is incredibly detailed and nuanced. We see during the series the growth of Kazuma, not just as a yakuza lieutenant, but as an individual. And the majority of this growth comes through his attempt to protect his family from harm. But Kazuma has many families, often with significant overlap and conflicting demands between them.