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After 18 years, Shenmue 3 is finally a game you can play right now

It’s only gone and come out, hasn’t it? Four years after its controversial, record-breaking $6 million Kickstarter campaign, Shenmue 3 is finally a game you can pick up and play. Blimey, it’s only been 18 years since the last one. Shenmue’s had a rough road to release, full of publisher scandals and delay after delay after delay. But it’s finally time to pick up where Shenmue 2 left off in 2001, with teen martial artist Ryo Hazuki traipsing around rural China looking for the folks who killed his dear old dad.

In between solving that mystery, you’ll have plenty of time to get stuck into fights with locals, while turning every incidental interaction into a fully fleshed-out minigame.

What an utterly strange thing. Shenmue 3 is a game torn between the 90s and today. Its quaint villages and landscapes are painterly, vivid with blossoming hills and warm sunlight. The music reaches a gentle crescendo, building over a scene of utter tranquillity. It’s captivating. Beautiful, even. Then someone will open their mouth, and the whiplash is enough to snap necks.

I kinda love it. Two decades of technical progress and young Ryo’s still enunciating with the same stilted, wooden affectation he spoke with when looking for sailors back in ’99. Enough time has passed for the Dreamcast original to gather one hell of a cult following, and it’s hard to see a follow-up land without that awkward social approach. If you’re ever feeling curious, those first two games hit PC two years ago.

For all its jank, Shenmue 3 also lets you race turtles. Job well done, everyone. We’ve solved videogames.

Does this tale still hold up, two decades later? Matthew will let us know when his Shenmue 3 review arrives on Friday. Shenmue 3 is available to buy today on the Epic Games Store for £45, with a Steam release expected next year.

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Natalie Clayton

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