This past year we’ve seen a boom in fighting games. One of the most notable is the triumphant return of Street Fighter 6, followed by the divisive Mortal Kombat 1, and now Tekken 8. Given the strong showing earlier this year, along with Tekken having a well regarded history, there is a lot to look forward to. Add in three story modes, several other optional modes, plus plenty of customization options it sounds like a sure thing. However, given that mentality biting gamers in the past, is Tekken 8 worth exploring, or are you better off going in another direction?
Tekken 8 features a number of different story options. These include the literal story, The Dark Awakens, character episodes, and Arcade quest. Before worrying about knowing all about Tekken’s long standing history, it’s all very newcomer friendly.
Why Not Do Another Tournament
Before starting The Dark Awakens, players have the option to watch a variety of videos that detail what happened in the previous entries. Each one talks about a specific game, so if you remember the first four games you can skip those, and vice versa. This is something we strongly suggest experiencing, as Tekken 8 assumes you either watched the videos, or remember the narrative.
As for The Dark Awaken, it’s a surprisingly well done story. Not only is it full of cutscene, it’s actually a pretty engaging adventure. A lot of this is more due to over-the-top scenes like crashing a helicopter with a motorcycle, over dealing with Jin Kazama starting another tournament, and the fallout related to that. Still, the narrative’s conclusion leaves things in a place where we can’t wait to see what happens next.
Character episodes are reminiscent of older fighting game’s arcade mode. They start with a brief explanation of who the character is, and what they’re trying to do. What I like is each opening brings these characters to life. Long standing fans will already know their histories, but for newcomers, or those who lapsed a bit a great refresher. After five fights they conclude with a brief cutscene showing the character finish their task, or make progress towards their goal.
The final narrative mode, Arcade Quest, will also be the most divisive. While this mode is at its core a tutorial, Tekken 8 tries to make it fun by letting players create a character, and experience things as an up-and-comer. I can’t say I was fond of the art style, with the narrative being roughly on par with a series like Beyblade, but I still appreciate the effort to make learning engaging.
Barbie’s Dream Tag Tournament
This mode is also a lot more robust than the usual checklist of moves. Players are encouraged to challenge themselves, get prizes, can unlock customization options, explore multiple locations, and more. Best of all, those not interested in the finer points, or listening to a rudimentary explanation of the mechanics can simply opt out. You won’t miss any of the narrative by declining a tutorial, and they can be revisited if you find out you do, in fact, need them.
In addition to Arcade Quest, Practice mode is deceptively robust. At first glance it’s the standard, fight opponents, or modify actions to improve mode. While it has all of that, it also offers a lot of other options. These include standards like sample combos, or combo challenges, both of which get you ready for the main stage, and Punishment Training.
As the name suggests, Punishment Training allows players to practice punishing their opponent. However, what makes the mode stand out is the option to select their “most common moves.” Not only does it make the process of trying each move easier, players are told exactly how they should handle it. It’s the type of resource even veteran players will appreciate as they explore all the changes in Tekken 8.
Upon mastering the various characters/controls, players can try Super Ghost Battle, Arcade, Tekken Ball, or fight against others. Anyone looking to up their game will enjoy Super Ghost Battle. The optional mode contains “high tier” AI battles that unlock cosmetics, with the option to face against an AI version of yourself. As you improve, so does the AI. This is an invaluable resource to improve, especially if you’re worried about getting destroyed online.
Who Doesn’t Love Unlockables?
Speaking for myself, I had no issue with the highest tier Super Ghost Battles currently available, or any battle I faced on the highest difficulty, though my ghost gave me a run for my money. I still beat it each time I played, but these were close matches. I imagine after a couple more attempts it will have me on the ropes forcing me to change my tactic, or just be a better Vic than it.
Arcade/Tekken Ball are both about what you’d expect from them. In arcade mode players need to defeat eight enemies, with the final one being something of a boss. There isn’t anything special about the mode besides being good informal practice. Tekken Ball remains a fun mini-game where you hit a ball, and take damage if you can’t return it. It’s fun with a friend, though nothing revolutionary. The same can be said about online, though it performed well from what we tested.
Gameplay itself is a lot of fun. I’ll admit I didn’t play Tekken 7, so returning to Tekken 8 involved some familiarization with mechanics. Even if characters didn’t click immediately, most were easy to grasp after a couple matches. What really stood out to me wasn’t the variety of fighters, which was wide, but rather how matches go.
Tekken 8 is a rather fast paced fighter. It doesn’t take much to lose, though this also means it isn’t hard to come back from the edge of defeat. Giving players a special move at low health for a comeback is nice, as is the Heat system. Both give players a way to quickly turn tides, which is nice, just like it gives skilled players something to anticipate.
It’s a nice game of cat/mouse where it’s never really over until it’s actually over. Skilled players might expect the move, and are thrown off, whereas low skilled players might get caught off-guard at the right time for an unexpected loss.
I also really like the variety of each fighter. This is something Tekken has always handled well, and Tekken 8 is no exception to this. Some of the character quirks can make fighting them rough as well. Even if I know how to deal with Jin’s punches, I might not be able to handle Victor’s blade.
Finally, graphics are fantastic. Not only do the characters look extremely detailed, each level had a lot of time/effort put into them. Outside of the occasional shortcoming, like rough textures during story, or practically everything in Arcade Quest, Tekken 8 is simply lovely to look at, and smoother to play.
Tekken 8 Review Verdict
Tekken 8 : What stands out the most about Tekken 8 is the effort that went into bringing newcomers in. Even if someone isn't ready for online, there is a wide array of offline options to build your skills. This isn't just a brief overview, combo trials, but rather a wide variety of options to polish practically any rough patch. This, combined with the great gameplay, solid online, and overwhelming number of customization options make Tekken 8 a fantastic choice regardless of skill level, or experience. – Grant
Editor’s Note: Tekken 8 was reviewed on PlayStation 5, and a copy was provided to us for review purposes.