Day in Shenmue III

Ys Net and Deep Silver have uploaded a new trailer for Shenmue III that gives us a look at what a typical day for protagonist Ryo is like. In addition to featuring some kung fu action, we also get a good look at the world he’ll be exploring. Some of the characters returning from Shenmue II show up too. It definitely looks like a Sega Dreamcast game, albeit prettier.

I’m happy to see the game in a more complete form, but I really don’t know how I feel. On the one hand, this looks like a lovingly-made recreation of what people loved from 20 years ago. At the same time, it looks to ignore any of the progress made over the last few console generations. Of course, I wouldn’t expect Shenmue to drop its lackadaisical style (especially since that is central to its identity). But I didn’t think combat animations would look worse than before.

As we inch closer to release, I’m getting a sinking feeling that a lot of people are going to be disappointed. Shenmue was legendary when it came out, but everything it pioneered is now common in the medium. It doesn’t help that, when going back to the originals, the intent comes off as pushing technology for the sake of pushing tech instead of actually enhancing the game experience. I’ll never understand why Ryo needs to actually wait for a bus or why you can’t simply speed up time to get to the next event. I know creating an atmosphere is central to what Yu Suzuki and his team wanted – and they definitely succeeded in that – but some nips and tucks would help greatly.

Whatever the case, Shenmue III may just be a little too retro for many people. I guess we’ll find out when it finally launches on Nov 19 for PC and PlayStation 4.

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