Hello and welcome back to the Story Arc. Last week I began an adventure where every other day in December of 2022 I examine a minor mechanic in the Yakuza franchise and look at how it has evolved game by game. In the previous three articles I looked over how super small mechanics like locker keys and taxis have evolved as well as how a larger mechanic like chases has changed over the years, so today let’s go over a mechanic that was very prevalent in the PS3 era of the series before going the way of the dodo when Yakuza jumped to PS4: Revelations!
Revelations are a very simple mechanic on the surface. While walking around Kamurocho or other cities Kiryu and co will occasionally see a very odd situation and do what all of us in the internet era do: blog about it! After blogging about the experience they will then learn a new heat action loosely based on the sight they had just seen.
Obviously the mechanic has changed quite a bit over the years or else I wouldn’t be talking about it, so let’s get into things and begin describing each game’s Revelations!
Revelations Throughout the Series
During the course of Yakuza 3 Kiryu will run into the brilliant blogger Mack and be told about revelations, and after learning about them players should be on the lookout around Okinawa and Kamurocho for, well, anything. Revelation opportunities in Yakuza 3 don’t really stand out as much as in layer games. Sometimes there will just be two people standing in the street with dialogue boxes around their heads and you are supposed to infer on your own that they’re a Revelation opportunity.
Once you do manage to spot a Revelation opportunity though you must go into first person mode and press X to look at them. After this you will be put into a cutscene full of several QTEs that you must win. These cutscenes are often comedic events where the subject you are looking at either narrowly avoids harm or gets some sort of comeuppance for acting like a jerk.
Upon passing the QTE you are then given a multiple choice question about what Kiryu learned from watching that. If you select the wrong thing then you completely fail the Revelation and have to start all over again. I really dislike this, the answers at the end aren’t always obvious and all this part of the Revelation amounts to is forcing you to walk away and then walk back so you can watch the same cutscene over again and hopefully pick the right answer this time.
Yakuza 3 features a decent number of Revelations, having 10 in total spread across the game’s two cities. During my first playthrough of Yakuza 3 I sadly only encountered one or two revelations because of how much they tended to blend into the crowd, so let’s see if Yakuza 4 fixes that at all!
Almost immediately Yakuza 4 makes Revelations stand out more than they did in 3, because instead of the Revelation opportunity text bubbles being a plain black they have a red outline to immediately command that you pay attention to them.
Just like in Yakuza 3 you will need to examine a Revelation opportunity in first person and then pass a cutscene full of QTEs that ends with a vague question about what your character learned from it. Yeah, while finding the Revelations themselves has been made easier the actual process of learning them is identical to what it was in 3.
Yakuza 4 does technically have more Revelations than 3 did, with there being 11 in total. 3 Revelations for Akiyama, 4 for Saejima, 3 for Tanimura, and only 2 for Kiryu. However, and I am very disappointed to say this, it would be a lie to say there are 11 unique Revelations in this game. Several characters share multiple Revelations with each other that use the exact same cutscene and QTEs. If we don’t count repeats shared between characters then Yakuza 4 only has 9 Revelations, which is less than in 3.
While the repeat Revelations are disappointing I did like the feature more here than in 3 both because I could actually find them and because Saejima’s animation when discovering them is hilarious. Let’s move on to the next game in the PS3 era and see if it changed them at all!
Yakuza 5 makes several large changes to Revelations. The smallest but most noticeable is that you no longer need to stare at Revelation opportunities in first person to activate them. Now if you are just in the general vicinity of a Revelation you will be prompted to press X to activate it.
Upon activating the Revelation you will once again transition into a comedic cutscene full of QTEs, however unlike past games you are no longer forced to answer a question about what your character learned at the end! This one simple change makes doing Revelations a lot more fun.
Unfortunately though, the number of Revelations has been drastically shrunk in Yakuza 5. There are only 5 normal Revelations in the game with each character having only a single cutscene to go through.
No, instead of having a whole bunch of cutscene Revelations Yakuza 5 introduced a new mid-battle Revelation system where if you use a specific item’s triangle attack over and over again you will gain a new triangle attack for that item. Note that I am talking about normal triangle button attacks and not heat actions.
I actively despise this change because of how it is handled in game. Not only do most players rarely use normal triangle attacks with street items in Yakuza, but in order to get these Revelations you need to do these attacks a LOT! There are twelve item revelations in the game and I spent nearly eight hours smacking enemies with items over and over until I finally unlocked these new attacks that I will never use because I don’t want to touch these items in Yakuza 5 ever again!
For most people, Revelations as a concept ended here. However there is another PS3 Yakuza game that was Japanese exclusive for years and did have Revelations. That’s right, we’re going to be talking about Like a Dragon Ishin next!
The next game in our Revelation examination is Like a Dragon Ishin! Ishin has what is absolutely the biggest change to Revelations so far. While Yakuza 5 greatly reduced the number of cutscene Revelations to just five, Ishin decides to cut that part of the mechanic altogether!
Yes, the only kinds of introductions in Ishin are the mid-battle ones introduced in Yakuza 5, however they’re much better here. Unlike in Yakuza 5 where mid-battle Revelations were a chore where you unlocked a normal attack that you will never use, Ishin’s mid battle Revelations will unlock more heat actions for you that are actually useful.
Upon obtaining a Revelation book (nearly all obtained from your Masters) and performing a specific action such as dodging an enemy attack a few times a heat action icon will appear in the top right of the screen. Upon click it you will witness Ryoma literally get struck by a bolt of lightning and begin to have a Revelation, immediately unlocking and using your new heat action.
While I do greatly miss the cutscene Revelations from Yakuza 3-5 I cannot deny that the Ishin method of Revelations is probably the best as an actual gameplay feature. Instead of just telling you that you’ve gained a new heat action you actually have to perform the lead up to that heat action on enemies a few times to unlock it, getting you used to using it! It’s actually pretty clever and yet another reason I believe Ishin has the best combat in the franchise.
Sadly Ishin was the final game in the franchise to have Revelations as a gameplay feature in any way, shape, or form. However the PS3 era’s final game, Yakuza 0, did sort of include Revelations.
Occasionally throughout the story of Yakuza 0 Kiryu and Majima will see someone do something very cool, let out a “That’s rad!” And have a Revelation before unlocking a new fighting style. These are Revelations in name and visuals alone and are just a cool way to introduce you to the other styles.
Looking through the history of Revelations has been interesting as while the feature has had both big and small changes with each entry I almost always had a big problem with it, those problems changed game by game too. RGG Studios was constantly experimenting with this mechanic and trying to find a sweet spot with it. Sadly it seems they never did as when the franchise moved on to the PS4 era the mechanic vanished altogether.
Farewell, Revelations, you were a pretty cool mechanic when you worked. If you enjoyed this article why not go back and read my earlier Yakuza mechanic histories? I’ve so far done locker keys, taxis, and chases! Throughout the month I’ll continue to examine more gameplay mechanics so stay tuned for those!