- This review contains spoilers.
Shenmue is a video anomaly, I don’t even know what to say. It’s just plain weird. Your father is murdered by a man named Lan Di and so your sole purpose in life is to find him and avenge your father’s murder. That’s generic video plot (or plot in general) but where it gets weird is your approach to finding Lan Di.
The protagonist Ryo Hazuki is pretty good, he’s so stupid but it makes me laugh and therefore I can’t help but like him. I played this game with a friend, we’re just passing the controller back and forth but we are in a debate who is a dumber character Ryo or Kauma Kiryu from the Yakuza series.
The core gameplay is not fun, the game, for the most part, does not control well but at the end of the day, a lot of the stuff I had to do was accidentally funny.
The big thing you do is walk around and ask questions, that’s what you’re doing 70% of the time. Walking around, asking people in the town a question and hoping they have an answer. I would guess 90% of the time, the person does not know so you now move along to another. Eventually, you find someone who knows something, you get an answer but that just leads to a new question. Now you ask around the new question, eventually, that gets answered but that inevitably leads to a new question. Keep doing this for 20 hours and that’s Shenmue.
Oh my god, this may be one of the worst controlling games I have ever experienced. It’s like slightly better tank controls, to turn 90 degrees probably takes 3-4 seconds. It’s just a tedious and slow process. It’s painful to play.
The combat is bizarre because you have this extremely in-depth combat system that is very similar to the fighting game series Virtua Fighter. It’s just weird because, for the most part, you barely fight in the game until the end when you have to fight a wave of like 50 guys. It’s unnecessarily complicated for how little combat is actually in the game.
At one point in the game, you have to get a job and the job you end up getting is becoming a forklift driver. The forklift drives suspiciously well, like its hands down the best part of the game. I still can’t believe how well it controls.
Not only do you have to work a life every day for your job, but the first thing you do every day is race the Forklifts. It took a couple days of getting used to the track but eventually, it got to a point where my friend and I were winning the races. There was no punishment for finishing or reward for finishing first, it was just a fun thing to do.
There are times in Shenmue when you have to kill time in the game. I found the best option to kill time was to go to the Casino and play the slot machines. I never played the higher valued machines, I just played what would be considered penny slots today. It was just something to do in the game since I had to do something for a literally 20 real-life minutes.
You could also go to an arcade in town and play arcade games. I didn’t do this very often because the game is set in the mid 80’s so the machines are mid 80’s machine and they would be games that I have no interest in playing.
Music/Sound Design/Voice Acting
I have to talk about the voice acting because man, this is the worst voice acting that I have ever heard in a video game. It is awful, I am sorry if you were a voice actor in this game. It’s bad, it’s unacceptably bad.
Too long, like 20+ hours.
Recap: The Good
Recap: The Bad
Recap: The Okay
Recap: Final Thoughts
I don’t even know how to write down my feelings about this game because I don’t know how I feel about this game. I didn’t hate the experience, I didn’t dislike it. I ironically had fun playing it. Granted I think playing with a friend helped alleviate some of the more annoying parts of the game. I don’t think it’s a good game but I don’t think it’s bad either so I’m going to go right down the middle and say it’s okay, average.