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Review

Tekken 8 Review

The Devil’s In The Details

Ah Tekken, my beloved fighting series. We have been through thick and thin and you were my introduction to the fighting game genre. I’m certainly no savant when it comes to punching my friends in these games, but who doesn’t love a good donnybrook with mates? There’s a world of options out there in terms of fighters, but out of all of them Tekken is the only one that has really ever stuck with me. Tekken 8 is very much a familiar experience in all the right ways, but it also brings an updated flavour to the King of Iron Fist tournament that’s wholly welcome.

Tekken 8 takes place after the events of Tekken 7 (shocker, I know). Heihachi Mishima is dead and Jin Kazama is the only one who can take on his devil of a father, Kazuya Mishima. It’s very quickly evident that he doesn’t currently possess the ability and power to take him down, and so he essentially has to recover from a bad beatdown and track down Kazuya. In this time, Kazuya has decided to hold one final King of Iron Fist tournament to determine who lives and who dies. This call to action brings in all the fighters that we know and love like Dragunov…wait no I meant Yoshimitsu (my boy), Hwoarang, Paul, Xiayou, Kuma, Mokuj…crap Mokujin isn’t here. Anyway, there are a lot of familiar faces. I won’t go into all the details of the story beyond here for spoilers’ sake but know that if you like fan service, this is the game for you. Want your favourite character to show up in the nick of time? They probably will. Want gratuitous arse shots or unfiltered views of pure cut muscle on a hunk? It’s got plenty of that too.

Tekken 8 Reina

Fan service aside, the story is very enjoyable. It’s not exactly excellently written and is entirely predictable, but that doesn’t stop it from being fun. What makes it so enjoyable is the fact that it plays into that predictability and is just silly with it. It still has its serious moments, but it also has the insane pacing that we know and love with Tekken. The campaign doesn’t outstay its welcome either (five to six hours should get you there) and instead left me wanting to play the game more because it knows how to hype itself, be stupid, be fun, but also tell a cohesive story at the same time. It was like I was watching a Shonen anime but the writing wasn’t disappointingly stupid and contrived.

Not everything in the campaign immediately jived with me, however. I’ve never really been a fan of using Jin Kazama, so the fact that you use him for a majority of the story made it an…interesting experience, but also a learning experience at the same time. Because I was put in a position where I was mostly using a character that I didn’t play all that often I was forced to learn his moveset, but it also allowed me to experience the newly added Special Style. Special Style is a simplified control method focused on lowering the barrier of entry by allowing for combos to be performed through the press of a button (or repeated presses of one button). This makes it so anyone can play, but it also exists as a good way of getting people through the story when they are forced to use unfamiliar characters like I was with Jin Kazama. Special Style is also present in multiplayer, but the range of combos available to players is fairly restricted, so people won’t be able to exploit this feature in a competitive sense.

Giving more people the ability to experience stories and games is always great when introduced like this as it in no way shape or form negatively impacts the more experienced players like in other games (read: Final Fantasy XIV and Destiny 2). One thing I didn’t expect to come as a side effect of using the aforementioned Special Style is the fact that it gave me an opportunity to see some characters’ more advanced moves and be inspired to learn how to perform them without the assistance of Special Style. Sure, I’m not a master of Jin Kazama, but it gave me an appreciation for his moveset and those who can use it to its fullest potential.

Tekken 8 Lili and Asuka

After closing out the campaign, I felt pretty sated in singleplayer content that wasn’t just offline battles. However, here I am left surprised with the fact that there was still more on offer. For starters, we have the Character Story mode. For all intents and purposes, this is a lot like the Arcade mode of old. Each character has a set of fights to get through back-to-back and overcoming them all will result in a unique cutscene that plays out. Some of these are sweet and some are batshit insane.

On top of this is Arcade Quest which is a singleplayer-focused mode where you are placed in the shoes of your own custom-made avatar. Yes, there are avatars that you can customise. Anyway, this story is just a fun little mode that tells a dumb story of “I like playing Tekken. Tekken is fun.” I definitely would not recommend Arcade Quest if you want a riveting story, but if you want a mode that will slowly introduce you to the game’s various mechanics and nuances, explaining their importance and use case along the way, then Arcade Quest is fantastic. It was actually a great experience learning all these nuanced mechanics and how they factor into the gameplay and your moment-to-moment decisions in-game. The pace with which the game introduced and then tested your understanding of each mechanic is great, and It never felt like a million things were being thrown at me, but rather a sliding scale. The easier, simpler mechanics that didn’t require too much practice were paced quickly, and the more complex mechanics that required more practice had slower pacing, allowing me more time to practice.

Now in terms of actually playing the game, Tekken 8 feels incredible. The punchy, snappy combat of Tekken has always struck a good balance between making sure that attacks had weight and power while also making sure that the game feels fast and responsive. Every fight, every round, every match – it all just feels so good.

Part of what makes the fighting feel as good as it does is the visuals. Tekken 8 is powered by Epic’s Unreal Engine 5 which features various technologies to bring Tekken to the current generation of visuals. What is really impressive is the fact that the game features some insane level of details and visual fidelity while still maintaining a rock-solid 60fps (mostly). There are some dips, but these were during extremely flashy animations where the game wrested control from me. What is worth noting is that Tekken 8 features pre-rendered cutscenes that run at 30fps. While these cutscenes look insanely good, it does quite often lead to a jarring experience and, at some points, spoils some potentially cool moments as you know when you are about to go into a fight when the framerate suddenly shoots up from 30 to 60.

Tekken 8 Jin v Hwoarang

I did play a couple matches of the online mode but I will refrain from saying anything concrete. I personally have never played a huge amount of the online side of the more recent Tekken games (read: I suck at these games) so I’m not sure how it compares to Tekken 7 (which was almost seven years ago at this point). Also, because the servers only had reviewers playing, the server load was incredibly low so it is hard to really gauge how the server stability will impact the way the game plays in an online environment.

The last thing to note is the music, my goodness it is good. The Tekken series has always been home to some fantastic tunes, like Tekken 5’s brilliant Moonlit Wilderness, and Tekken 8 doesn’t miss. The music fits each stage so well, and it has such fantastic timing and atmosphere. The music which plays in the final battle of the story mode is just phenomenal and is a perfect crescendo to the action. Not everyone will like every track by default, but this is also where the brilliant part of Tekken 8’s soundtrack lies. You can change the music that plays for each stage, including the final round music. What music can replace it you ask? Well, how about your choice of any track from the entire Tekken series? Yes, I mean that. Going all the way back to the original Tekken game, everything is there. Want every stage to only play Moonlit Wilderness? Go for it. Miss hearing the character themes from Tekken 3? Put them in as the stage music. This is simply brilliant as it also gives you a window into how the music of Tekken has changed over the years.

Final Thoughts

Tekken 8 is exactly what I wanted it to be. Cohesive, silly, fun, ridiculous and brilliant. The King of Iron Fist returns with one more entry to close out its bombastic, chaotic story and it does it in style. The fighting feels great, the story is silly and fun, the music rules, and the visuals are fantastic. Combine this with the game’s new Special Style system which lowers the barrier of entry for new players and you have a Tekken game that easily caters to a wide variety of players.

Reviewed on PS5 // Review code supplied by publisher

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Tekken 8 Review
Jins of the Father
Tekken 8 is as equally ridiculous as it is sensible. It makes crazy, entertaining choices for its story while also opening its doors to a more contemporary, wider audience through some systems that increase the game’s approachability.
The Good
The story is great fun
Special Style makes the game increasingly approachable
Music and graphics are phenomenal
Arcade Quest is a great way to teach players the nuanced mechanics of Tekken
The Bad
The 30fps cutscenes can ruin in-game moments when the game shifts back to 60fps
If you really don't enjoy Jin Kazama, you may struggle with some of the story mode
9
Bloody Ripper
  • TEKKEN Project / Bandai Namco Studios
  • Bandai Namco Entertainment
  • PS5 / Xbox Series X|S / PC
  • January 26, 2024

Tekken 8 Review
Jins of the Father
Tekken 8 is as equally ridiculous as it is sensible. It makes crazy, entertaining choices for its story while also opening its doors to a more contemporary, wider audience through some systems that increase the game’s approachability.
The Good
The story is great fun
Special Style makes the game increasingly approachable
Music and graphics are phenomenal
Arcade Quest is a great way to teach players the nuanced mechanics of Tekken
The Bad
The 30fps cutscenes can ruin in-game moments when the game shifts back to 60fps
If you really don't enjoy Jin Kazama, you may struggle with some of the story mode
9
Bloody Ripper
Written By Jordan Garcia

Jordan lives and breathes Dark Souls, even though his favourite game is Bloodborne. He takes pride in bashing his face on walls and praising the sun. Hailing from the land of tacos, he is the token minority for WellPlayed.

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