Shenmue III for PlayStation 4 evaluation: Straight from the Dreamcast era

Shenmue 3

The day a lot of you have been waiting for is finally right here. Shenmue III is available after a 17-year wait around. Just like the originals, this game is really a third-person role-playing experience that targets exploration, investigation, and martial arts fight. Unlike many other open-world titles, Shenmue III doesn’t give you the location of the objective on the map, but causes you to interact with various characters for more information about the environment. This includes where to find structures and individuals with relevant information.

Explore the world

Shenmue III


Bottom line: Shenmue 3 is a good game, but feels very dated.


  • Packed open world
  • Good story
  • Excellent investigating
  • Many side activities


  • Poor animations
  • Poor voice acting
  • Clunky controls
  • Dated menus

Shenmue III story and setting

Shenmue III’s story revolves in regards to series of kidnappings and it’s up to you in order to save the day. The plot focuses on Ryo Hazuki and how he becomes more powerful by taking on even deadlier enemies while searching for his father’s monster, Lan Di. In order to emerge successful, you have to keep on learning new movements. In many ways, Shenmue III feels like the montage rather than a grand tale having a lot of complexity that moves in a brisk pace. The ending furthermore leaves a lot to interpretation since I’m not sure if the man that killed Ryo’s father is still living.

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While many gamers might find Shenmue III’s lack of waypoints hard to move past, it adds a level of realism not found in numerous games. In order to find out more about several thugs or where a vendor generally sits, you’ll have to ask other residents. Some can be helpful, while others will refuse to provide any information.

Shenmue III map and exploration

Shenmue 3

You need to approach investigating within Shenmue III like you would method it in real life. If you don’t understand where someone is, ask their own neighbors. If you’re tracking a questionable dealer, ask locals close to marketplaces if they’ve seen someone complementing the description. Approaching the story along with common sense is the way to go.

Shenmue III has a complex map plus sometimes, it may be hard to remember that the various houses belong too. Fortunately, if you’re lost, you can always click on the “Help” button and it’ll usually permit you to fast-travel to your next destination. Properly exploring the map and studying where everything is will last well.

Just like the Yakuza franchise, Shenmue III features a large amount of side activities that you can spend hrs with. You can play games throughout rural China like arcade boxing, tossing rocks into buckets, and even more. You can also make easy money simply by chopping wood and engaging in other styles of manual labor. I would recommend accomplishing this because you should always stock up on meals. Your health is essentially determined by your craving for food level. Gathering various herbs which are scattered around the map also comes in helpful down the line.

Shenmue III visuals and performance

Shenmue 3

Exploring countryside China is quite the departure for your franchise, but the stunning landscapes filled with colorful flowers and conventional architecture make it one of the best-looking online games out there. While the visuals may not be photorealistic, they look like concept art within motion. I really like the aesthetic.

Shenmue III looks great upon PC due to the variety of settings you are able to play with. However, it’s quite fuzzy on PlayStation 4 Pro (PS4 Pro) and doesn’t appear to function any major enhancements. The quality seems to be 1080p and the frame price is locked at 30 fps. Oddly enough, the base console appears to be working the game at 720p or somewhat higher. I would’ve liked to get a greater boost in resolution or even frame rate, if not both, since the PS4 Pro is a capable system. While it may not be as powerful because the Xbox One X at 6 teraflops, with some optimization, resolutions of 1440p are still possible on Sony’s machine with Unreal Engine 4.

Shenmue III voice acting and combat problems

Shenmue 3

While the particular visuals are great for the most part, the voice acting leaves a lot to become desired. Shenmue III starts on $50 on PC — a lot more on console — and has a significant publisher, Deep Silver, behind this. It’s a mystery as to why these difficulties weren’t addressed because the almost humorous dialogue delivery takes away from the significance of the story.

Since Shenmue III is an action game too, you are have to fight a number of opponents since beating them is the only method they’ll reveal information. This means that you will need to constantly train at a dojo. Instruction allows you to level up certain martial arts movements so that it’s easier to defeat opponents. Unfortunately, the combat mechanics are a small clunky so learning them requires a while. Even if you think you’ve perfected them, it’s still hard to period your moves properly.

When it comes to fight, Shenmue III feels like it was taken right from the Sega Dreamcast era. It seems like a wasted opportunity since the developer should’ve added more refinement. Honestly, the whole game feels dated even when it comes to the way menus look and behave. I appreciate the fact that it’s geared towards hardcore fans of the franchise, but it doesn’t mean you should ignore the fact that it’s almost 2020. The gaming industry has moved on and there are a new set of standards. The decision to make the game feel this archaic is also a curious one. It’s as if the team wanted only a small subset of people to really enjoy it.

Shenmue III final thoughts

Shenmue 3

Overall, Shenmue III is a good game with regards to the story, but its dated design and clunky combat harm the experience. However, it’s focus on realism helps it a lot. The fact that additionally, it doesn’t provide a concrete resolution to the saga and strings the gamer along for dozens of hours, resulting in an underwhelming climax, is a curious decision I can’t understand.

out of 5

Players have been waiting for almost two decades to see how the story ends, and today they’ll probably have to wait additional. Let’s hope that there’s a Shenmue IV because the archaic combat mechanics, poor voice acting, and clunky menus may turn newcomers off. Shenmue and Shenmue II weren’t blockbusters in the day, and Shenmue III fails at making the franchise relevant to a younger crowd, something it desperately needed in my opinion.

Find Lan Di

Shenmue III

Another chapter to play through

Play as Ryo Hazuki, an 18-year-old Japanese martial artist hellbent on avenging his father’s death.

The game was reviewed on a PS4 Pro and Shadow, with copies provided by the publisher.

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