So the Yakuza guys made a cyberpunk game, huh?
Which immediately strikes me as kind of an unfair statement to lead in with. Yes, this is made by the Ryu ga Gotoku team, the group behind one of my favorite video game series, Yakuza. Yes, that fact is what made me pay attention to the game in the first place, and it one of the features that most makes it stand out in a market, but honestly, that doesn’t have a whole lot of bearing on the end product. Some teams, studios, designers, etc stick to a really distinctive design. Hideo Kojima makes a game, you know it’s going to be full of giant cinematic cutscenes, swap between the bizarre and the realistic freely, and you will be lectured on Kojima’s moral stands through the characters. If Bioware makes a game (well, pre-MMO Bioware, who knows where their design sense is now) it’s going to have expansive dialogue choices and convoluted plots. Platinum Studios makes a game, its action will be extreme and fast and tense, and its plot and visual design will be waaaaaay over the top. You know these things.
Some developers and studios, however, don’t stick to just one thing. They’ve got some variety to them. You wouldn’t think Ryu ga Gotoku studios would, given that they have one franchise that they keep churning out on a regular basis, but as Binary Domain shows, they really do. This game has very little in common with the Yakuza series that the studio is based around. It’s a completely different genre. It’s distinctly made for an international audience whereas Yakuza is extremely Japanese. It’s in an entirely different setting, requiring a very different visual design, and is structured completely differently. Its takes a completely different path of play. It does carry through the overall ethos of character design, with people that include just the right amount of visual flaws to look super realistic, and the very appropriately placed product placement, but that’s really all I can pick up on that’s carried over from the Yakuza series.