Shenmue III Review

"Back to the Dojo"


December 2, 2019 at 6:26pm
By Jason Stettner

This is the long awaited follow-up to the Shenmue series, a tale that was left unfinished many years ago and it should be a big deal for fans. This third entry aims to give a sense of closure to the second game, while not really providing it for the overall series. It seems to act as more of a continuation point, and considering the wait I’m not necessarily sure that was the best choice story wise.

That aside, we once again join Ryo Hazuki on his quest for finding out the past surrounding his father and he’s joined by Shenhua. You get a light look at a sort of relationship that is forming between the two, that could have been handled a bit better quite honestly. Story wise this really doesn’t dig deep into things. It’s another one of those adventure situations where you’re wandering around trying to figure out clues by talking with people and then taking things literally day by day. You’ll need to sleep, and also deal with energy which is a complete pain. You constantly need to eat or sleep to keep your energy up which is tiring in itself.

Aside from the story not really giving a whole lot of progression, most of this is contained within a small village area. They use that space well providing a lot of game time within it, it just gets kind of boring talking to the same folks in town and walking around the same spots multiple times. Think of this being just a next chapter, instead of perhaps a conclusion like I’m sure some fans had wanted.


Having already discussed the energy system, that does filter into combat. I found the combat to be rather boring and perhaps difficult at times. It was weird that I’d have to work on special machines to increase my skills, or fight in the dojo. A weird way to stall time as this series really is about the story, at least this one is as combat is so minimal.

I loved the sense of discovery in the world as you chat with people, at the same time they could have done better with the pacing in this. It creates weird points that just halt all progress, such as having to earn a pile of money. It’s weird, and takes away from the flow of the overall narrative. While playing this on the base PS4 I did have many performance issues come up, it doesn’t run well.

It also doesn’t look very good visually, at times it’s lovely and at other times it comes across as muddy. The beautiful music distracts, but the visual issues are painfully clear. There’s pop-in, loading texture issues and more things that make this feel unpolished. It’s not necessarily a full budget title, and that’s painfully visible while playing.

The frame drops are also rough, makes it harder to enjoy as it feels like a calm experience as opposed to one where tons of action is going on within it. It also just feels generally aged, like a title out of time almost. It feels like it’s in line with the games that came before, while generally refusing to update mechanics to match a more modern experience. I’ll also note that the voice actor for Ryo seemed like they were really bored with the role, not a lot of emotion in there.
Shenmue III Review Xbox Wallpaper Screenshot

The Conclusion

Shenmue III is alright, it’s the next step in the story and it stumbles along the way with some odd pacing amongst poor visual issues. This feels as though it lacks polish, which is disappointing as it carries a lively world. There are many side things to take part in within this, and it is a long story. The pacing could have been better, spending less time on dragging it out and more time on really refining elements would have been better.

It’s interesting to see how the narrative develops, and I imagine long time fans may be frustrated to not get a better picture of things being wrapped up in case that next step doesn’t happen. It’s surprising to see this game happen, but it’s finally here and perhaps a bit underwhelming at times. It feels like Shenmue which is nice, but perhaps also a game out of time.

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Shenmue III Review on Playstation 4
Review Code Provided by Tinsley PR

Rating Overall: 6.4

Gamerheadquarters Reviewer Jason Stettner