Tekken 8 Review

I can still vividly remember the first time I played Tekken 3, picked Jin, and fell in love with both...

I can still vividly remember the first time I played Tekken 3, picked Jin, and fell in love with both the franchise and the fighting game genre. Now, almost 20 years since that day, Tekken 8 arrives in the next generation of consoles while promising to bring to its conclusion one of the series’ longest-running storylines.

Recommended Videos

But does Tekken 8 succeed in setting itself apart from the rest, or does its newly implemented mechanics feel like a missed combo?

The Best Tekken Main Story To Date

To start, we have the game’s Main Story Mode, called The Dark Awakens. After the chaotic mess that was the main scenario campaign of Tekken 7 — honestly, I cannot believe the idea of having Akuma canonically join the story even left the drawing board — I am more than happy to say that the main storyline of Tekken 8 tops its predecessors in every possible way by giving fans a just as over-the-top but way more well-constructed storyline that manages to deliver a concise experience which — when paired with the phenomenal presentation and the high-quality soundtrack we all have grown to expect from Tekken — can, at times, send shivers down your spine.

The story also features some of the best fighting scenes in the franchise, which reminded me in the best way possible of those featured in Tekken: Blood Vengeance. Honestly, Tekken has finally gone full Dragon Ball, and I could not be happier.

Tekken-8-review-3
Image: Attack of the Fanboy

On the downside, although the story manages to offer a strong arc for some of its characters — especially Jin, Kazuya, and Lars — it felt in most portions as rushed as it could be. That caused a lot of its mid-story moments to feel forced given how little the characters had interacted before — especially those featuring newer faces. It was also really disappointing to see how some characters were sidelined almost completely, while others were treated as nothing more than unnecessary comic relief. If there’s one thing I think developers should take note of when preparing for a possible next installment in the Tekken franchise, is that a story needs a little more buildup to truly hit.

A Good Offense is the Best Defense

Now that the game’s story is done, it’s time for the main dish: combat. In Tekken 8, aggression reigns supreme, as the game features the debut of both the new Heat System mechanic and the ability to deal chip damage. Like with Rage, players will be able to both perform new combos and stylish attacks while under Heat. That, when paired with how players can now recover bits of their health in one fell swoop by performing specific combos, further segments the game’s focus on pressuring and setting the pace of the match.

I feel like the changes, even if a little overwhelming on paper, did not impact the feel of the game negatively in any way. Instead, they provided a breath of fresh air and added a new incentive for those looking to master situational moves and learn how to properly defend. For more casual players, Tekken 8 also allows you to toggle on Special Style by pressing L1/LB. Once the function is active, you will be able to perform predetermined combos and signature moves through simple inputs.

Tekken-8-review-1
Image: Bandai Namco Entertainment

In true Tekken fashion, Tekken 8 features a large starting roster of 32 characters, with the large majority of them featuring truly distinct playstyles. The game also buffed the number of customization options when compared to its predecessor, which gives players the ability to make a wide array of unofficial crossovers — and in some cases, make some honestly cursed creations.

A New Layer to Practice

Like any Martial Art, the cornerstone of any fighting game lies in how you can only truly understand the fundamentals and the style of a character by practicing with it. Tekken 8 focuses on that and delivers one of the most complete practice modes I have ever seen, as well as a way more in-depth replay system that allows you to take control and redo certain portions of fights.

The game also featured the debut of a new mode called Super Ghost Battle, which allows players to fight against AI characters who act based on data acquired from both their playstyle as well as that of other select players. Needless to say, the mode stole the show and set a new standard for the genre. In my case as a long-time fan who does not excel at it, using it allowed me to see firsthand the failings of my own game, learn how to counter some moves in real battle scenarios, and get hands-on practice against high-ranked players at no cost.

Tekken-8-review-4
Image: Attack of the Fanboy

Ranked, Arcade Quest, and a Welcome Return

The main attraction for most players, Tekken 8 features the return of its standard Ranked mode, where players can face each other to reach the top and earn the sought-after title of God of Destruction. You can also take part in non-ranked battles through either the menu or by diving into the Tekken Fight Lounge. The lounge can be seen as the game’s main hub, where players can create avatars and interact with one another. The addition of the Fighting Lounge, although inconsequential for some, was a huge plus for me. The mode allows players to interact in a more personal way and succeeds in bringing a little bit of that old but so characteristic and beloved arcade feeling to the game.

Serving as an introduction to the lounge, we then have Arcade Quest — or, as I like to call it, Tekken 8 101. The mode is composed of an unremarkable single-player experience and serves as an introduction to both some of the game’s most vital mechanics and its ranking system.

Tekken-8-review
Image: Bandai Namco Entertainment

For those looking to play mostly offline, and apart from the Story Mode, Tekken 8 features the return of the standard Arcade Mode popular in most titles of the genre. Those looking for a deeper look into their favorite characters can also play through Character Episodes for each of the game’s 32 playable characters. Like always, you can also face friends in 1v1 couch co-op battles. While the game’s Versus Mode offers almost everything you may want from a standard couch co-op mode, I cannot help but once again cry at the lack of the 8v8 mode featured on older Tekken games.

Tekken 8 also features the return of the fan-favorite Tekken Ball mode (which can be played online, solo, and on casual co-op). As it was on both Tekken 3 and Tekken Tag Tournament 2 — and to put it simply — Tekken Ball is focused on depleting your opponent’s health by hitting them with a beach ball. Although not a big draw, the mode can be seen as a good dose of nostalgia, as well as a good way to trick friends who are not inclined to try fighting games into playing Tekken with you.

The Verdict

Tekken 8 doubles down on all of the right aspects and delivers the ultimate Tekken experience through an extremely polished combat system, a beautiful presentation, a surprisingly well-crafted story mode, a few novel mechanics, and a groundbreaking new game mode.

9
Tekken 8
Tekken 8 doubles down on all of the right aspects and delivers the ultimate Tekken experience through an extremely polished combat system, a beautiful presentation, a surprisingly well-crafted story mode, a few novel mechanics, and a groundbreaking new game mode.
Reviewed on PlayStation 5
related content
Read Article Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Review
Final Fantasy VII Rebirth logo
5 stars
Read Article Persona 3 Reload Review
Image of the front cover of Persona 3 Reload. Persona 3 Reload Review.
4.5 stars
Read Article Granblue Fantasy: Relink Review – Brave the Skies
4.5 stars
Read Article Enshrouded Early Access Review
3.5 stars
Read Article Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth Review
4.5 stars
Related Content
Read Article Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Review
Final Fantasy VII Rebirth logo
5 stars
Read Article Persona 3 Reload Review
Image of the front cover of Persona 3 Reload. Persona 3 Reload Review.
4.5 stars
Read Article Granblue Fantasy: Relink Review – Brave the Skies
4.5 stars
Read Article Enshrouded Early Access Review
3.5 stars
Read Article Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth Review
4.5 stars
Author
Franklin Bellone Borges
Franklin is a writer and journalist. A video game fanatic with more than 3 years of experience, his work can also be seen on sites such as The Click, Games Atlas, and Try Hard Guides. When not writing, he is most likely making his wallet cry while playing Gacha Games or ending the reign of the Crystals in Final Fantasy XVI.