Continue the Story of Ryo’s Revenge
Story has always been a major component of the Shenmue games, and Shenmue 3 is absolutely no different. While the story is a slow-burn, you’re still continuing Ryo’s quest to get revenge on his father’s killer, Lan Di.
This time you start in the quaint Chinese village of Bailu, quite a different locale for Shenmue. There’s plenty of drama and mystery to the story, but the real star is the relationship between Ryo and Shenhua.
Shenhua was a character that we only met at the tail-end of Shenmue 2, but it’s great to see more and learn more about her.
Each night you go back to Shenhua’s house you can talk to her, in turn learning more about her and about Ryo himself.
If you have any fond memories of the first two Shenmue games at all, the story of Shenmue 3 is worth seeing. If you haven’t it’s still worth trying as long as you know what kind of game it is going in.
It’s a Calming Experience
In the world of epic AAA games with tons of action, Shenmue 3 is a different kind of experience. The game doesn’t hold your hand, and oftentimes, doesn’t even give you a lot of direction as to where to go or what to do next.
From the start Shenmue 3 tries to get you into a regimented experience, schedule out each in-game day. You need to work a job chopping wood to make money, need to train your martial arts, spend time investigating your next step in the story, etc.
Yet for all this, Shenmue 3 essentially lets you do whatever you want. There are combat encounters, but they’re few and far between, making them feel more serious when they do happen.
Walking around Bailu, and alter Naowu, is simply a calming, almost meditative experience. Take in the gorgeous sights and sounds, buy a few capsules, chop some wood, bet on turtle races. Do whatever you want, really.
There’s a Ton of Fun Minigames
We just mentioned a few of them, but Shenmue 3 has a ton of little minigames to fill your time with.
Gambling games let you try your luck to win tokens, which you can exchange for prizes. The classic Lucky Hit from the first two games returns along with a dice game and some adorable turtle and frog racing.
On top of all that you can visit the arcade to play some machines like Whack-a-Mole, boxing, golf, and more.
Even the wood-chopping minigame is strangely fun, and the music amps up and gets more intense if you start doing better.
While you can certainly play through just the main story, there’s a ton to distract you along the way.
It Oozes B-Movie Charm
Shenmue 3 is a game that many people thought would never exist, and even though it was a massive Kickstarter success, it still has a fraction of the budget that the original did more than 20 years ago.
As you might expect, this means that Shenmue 3 has some rough edges; janky animations, uneven voice acting, underdeveloped ideas, etc.
Yet, for all this, there’s an undeniable charm that fills each and every aspect of the game.
Ryo and Shenhua’s voice acting is stilted, but it’s supposed to be. It matches the weird style of the original.
Shenmue 3 is a AA game in every regard, something similar to a B-movie. There are wacky characters around every corner, dialogue plays out hilariously weird at times, Ryo has to do random tasks like catch chickens.
Despite its flaws there’s so much heart behind every aspect of Shenmue 3; it’s created by people who genuinely care about the series.
Shenmue 3 feels like a game from the past, but that makes it undeniably charming.