Developed by:YS Net Inc. Published by:Deep Silver Genre(s):
  • Action Adventure
  • Platform:
  • PC
  • Sony
  • Cost:$59.99 ESRB Rating:TEEN Players:1 Release date:November 19, 2019 Reviewed on:PS4

    Shenmue III

    This gaming generation has an interesting track record concerning older franchises. Every other day, it seems like there’s a new remake or reboot being announced. A lot of it has been great; the Spyro Reignited Trilogy was well received and the Resident Evil 2 remake got a GOTY nomination.

    Of course, when it came old franchises, the most notable games weren’t the remade ones. They were the long-awaited sequels. The games that didn’t seem like they’d ever be made. I mean, who could have predicted that we’d get Kingdom Hearts 3 and Shenmue III in the same year?

    The latter is probably at the top of the “don’t hold your breath” list. Even after its successful Kickstarter campaign, no one knew what to expect in terms of a release; the drip feed of information (for non-backers) wasn’t enough to satiate fans. Fast forward to November 2019, and they finally got a chance to play Shenmue III. The question on everyone’s mind at time: was it worth the wait? Well…

    I was really excited to play as series protagonist, Ryo Hazuki again. Anticipating something grand, I made sure to download the game as soon as our review code came in. What followed was about 40hrs of discovery, action, and outright disappointment.

    I’m not sure what I was expecting. The trailers and such featured a familiar Ryo. In that, he seemed to be the same teenager from the previous games. I figured it was because of the story – Shenmue III starts off literally where the second game ended 15 year ago – and Ys Net’s desire to give fans an authentic “Shenmue” experience.

    In other words, I had an inkling of what was to come. And yet, I was still surprised to learn that Shenmue III played almost exactly the same as its predecessors. Better visuals, new quick time events or mini-games, a change of scenery – none of those things could mask the fact that it felt like a Dreamcast game. Worst, it felt unfinished as a decent amount of the game’s dialogue seemed to be poorly translated.

    This is especially true during the opening hours. The story follows Ryo and his friend Shenhua Ling’s journey to find a connection between their families (and the legacy of the Dragon and Phoenix mirrors). After making their way to Guilin, China, Ryo starts questioning local NPC’s about a certain criminal element. Unfortunately, some of the responses didn’t make sense. Either the translations were off or the game was buggy, causing NPC’s to answer questions that were never asked.

    Things fared a bit better when it comes to combat. Slight improvements were made, allowing players to more readily control the flow of battle. This led to some exciting moments. That said, having to press a sequence of buttons to preform a single move made things feel clunky; quickly tapping X, X, Square might cause Ryo to do a spinning roundhouse, for instance. Because of this, there’s an odd pause between certain attacks the pulls you out of the experience. Thankfully, you can map some of the moves to buttons, negating some of the chunkiness.

    A lot of the gameplay elements that seemed noteworthy years ago feels dated today. The repetitive mini-games – used to learn new fighting moves, improve your stats, ect. – grow old pretty fast. The survival mechanics are also retro in design. Having to stop and feed Ryo after sprinting (to regain stamina) proved to be tedious feature, added for a misplaced sense of realism. The quick timed events aren’t as novel as the game wants them to be. And while it can be fun to explore the dense environments/1980’s China, the sluggish pacing nearly ruins the story.

    The best thing about Shenmue III has to be the graphics. Some of the NPC’s still looked off thanks to their expressionless faces. But the new coat of paint certainly helps things; at the very least, it appears better than an HD remake.

    Had this game came out years ago, it would have been better received. I mean, one could argue that Ys Net gave fans what they wanted. Which was more Shenmue, genre advancements be damned. Shenmue III could have been much more though. It could have at least reached the Yakuza series in terms of quality. Instead, we’re given a throwback to something that can’t stand the test of time.




    The combat can be fun at times. A sluggish story and antiquated gameplay mechanics mar what could have been an entertaining sequel.



    Shenmue 3 looks pretty good at times.



    The music, sound effects and such were ok.

    Replay Value:


    After completing the game, I saw no reason to return.

    Final Score:


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