Yakuza 7: Whereabouts of Light and Darkness has finally been officially revealed by Sega and it appears the game will make a shift toward turn-based RPG style combat.
The last mainline story in the Yakuza series was released in Japan a little over three years ago and while Yakuza 6: The Song of Life would go on to sell over one million copies worldwide, many wondered why it took Sega two years to release the game to a worldwide audience. Sega would go on to release Yakuza Kiwami 2, Ryū ga Gotoku Online and Judge Eyes: Shinigami no Yuigon within that same year, growing the fanbase around the series. Though Judge Eyes: Shinigami no Yuigon would do well, selling 148,246 copies within Japan in the first week, it wouldn't be without its share of controversy as it would be pulled from store shelves in Japan following the arrest of Pierre Taki, one of the game's actors.
With details starting to trickle out about Yakuza 7, a game that is slated for release in 2020, Sega saw fit to announce that fans of the franchise could now get their hands on Yakuza Remastered Collection, which contains remastered versions of Yakuza 3, 4, and 5. Now, the company has made it known that the next installment in the franchise will have a different combat system entirely, becoming the first turn-based RPG in the series.
It's hard to know what Sega was thinking when they abruptly decided to change the combat system, but they seem to be confident that this is what fans of the franchise want. If the game ends up having more success than others in the series it could lead to even more drastic changes for the franchise down the road.
News related to the change can be found through Polygon, who go on to say that the player will assume the role of Ichiban Kasuga, a Yakuza who took the fall for his boss and spent 18 years in prison as a result. As for the setting, Polygon states that the player will find themselves in Yokohama, a Japanese city situated on the south side of Tokyo. While exact details related to the combat system aren't known, a leaked screenshot reveals health bars on each enemy and a turn indicator on the lower left-hand side of the screen. Yakuza 7 will become available on the PlayStation 4 in Japan starting on January 16th, 2020, with a western release coming sometime later that same year.
Though this change is a bit shocking, it isn't that far off from the combat systems that were implemented in prior games. Given that the screenshot reveals a ton of enemies and allies during combat, this could have been the only way that Sega could make the game run smoothly without too much action going on at once.
It's hard for any developer to make sudden changes to a franchise, but sometimes it really pays off and makes the series better in the end. We'll have to wait and see how Yakuza 7 fairs, but given Sega's recent track record, it's a pretty safe bet that the game will be just fine.