The Tekken series has stood the test of time in gaming culture, along with the likes of Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. It has provided players with a unique fighting experience that sets itself apart from its competition. As someone who has recently become a fan of the genre, I was keen to try what Tekken 8 had to offer. Fortunately, it was time well spent as it has not only ingratiated me fully into the genre but will be something I suspect both curious newcomers and veterans will be pleased with.
“The rich narrative woven throughout helps to deepen the complex relationships the large cast of characters have with each other and themselves.”
The story of Tekken 8 follows directly from Tekken 7 and the power struggle to become the head of the Mishima Zaibatsu. The result is decided through the winner of the King of the Iron Fist Tournament, hosted by Mishima. However, this time around, there’s a twist to the tournament, making the stakes of winning and losing far greater than ever before.
Fighting game narratives rarely stick with me outside of 2011’s Mortal Kombat. So, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Tekken 8’s story is still fresh in my mind. The rich narrative woven throughout helps to deepen the complex relationships the large cast of characters have with each other and themselves. It’s also an unceasingly bombastic experience, with fight after fight amping up the stakes in truly spectacular ways. After completing it, I found myself wanting to dive deeper into the lore of the different characters and experience everything I had been missing out on over the years.
As someone new to Tekken’s narrative, I was immediately impressed with the inclusion of story catchup segments. These can be selected before starting the campaign. These are presented as animated shorts that explain the lore and backstory of the fighting series. So, if, like me, you’ve never touched a Tekken game before, then Tekken 8 is surprisingly a good jumping-off point.
Additionally, I found that the story never overstays its welcome. Depending on what difficulty you play it on, it can be completed in under 10 hours. It utilizes those hours well, establishing a grand narrative of fate while preparing you for the countless hours you’ll spend in the other online and offline modes.
“If you’re used to fighting games, then you’ll feel right at home with Tekken 8.”
Of course, outside of the bombastic story, Tekken 8 is all about fighting. Fortunately, it’s incredibly fast-paced, with smooth controls and a lack of input delay, making the game effortlessly replayable. You’ll quickly become enraptured within a handful of matches, encouraged to come back time and time again. It’s all too easy to slip from one match to the next, thanks to the extremely streamlined experience.
If you’re used to fighting games, then you’ll feel right at home with Tekken 8. The vast roster of characters, each with their own unique styles, offers a plethora of engaging playstyles that encourage experimentation. Similarly, the sheer number of dynamic combos means you can truly dominate the arena, especially against unprepared opponents. Tekken 8 also features a system called “Special Style.” This lowers the barrier of entry by enabling players to pull off complex combos with the press of a button. Alternating between this and the standard control scheme made getting to grips with each character a far more accessible experience.
“Arcade Quest is a genuine highlight and a truly unique experience.”
You’ll engage in this smooth-as-butter combat across a strong lineup of engaging modes. Whether you prefer playing offline or online, Tekken 8 offers plenty of content to sink your teeth into. For PvE fans, there’s the aforementioned Story Mode, Character Episodes, which involves taking part in character-specific fights, the classic Arcade mode, Tekken Ball (which is also PvP), and my favorite, Arcade Quest.
Arcade Quest is a genuine highlight and a truly unique experience. It sees players work their way up from being a Tekken noob to competing in the Tekken World Tour. You do this, naturally, through a series of fights and tournaments in different arcades. While all of the modes are fantastic, this one clicked with me the most. It brilliantly portrays the experience of being in an arcade, all while teaching you the ropes. It allows newcomers to grow their confidence while indulging franchise veterans with nostalgia and fun.
When it comes to PvP, there’s still plenty on offer. There is Quick Match, Tekken Battle Lounge, where players can converse with other fans and hop into fights, Tekken Ball, and Ranked Match. One aspect of Tekken 8’s PvP that I found particularly interesting was the choice to match you against an AI opponent when first queuing to play online. It is there to essentially gauge what level of real opponent you’ll face. It’s a smart choice, cleverly giving players an equal chance when starting the game.
It’s also worth noting that each mode grants players in-game currency known as Fight Money. You can use these to purchase pretty wild customization options for your avatars and in-game fighters. It adds yet another layer of personality and fun to the game and something tangible to strive toward if you find yourself getting worn out by random matches.
“Tekken 8 not only has excellent visual and sound design but also a killer soundtrack.”
Visually, Tekken 8 is phenomenal, making excellent use of Unreal Engine 5. Everything, from the dynamic animations to the incredibly detailed textures, looks fantastic in Tekken 8. It brings to life the bombastic action of the Story Mode and makes every punch feel as dramatic as possible. It’s miraculous, then, that the game runs almost flawlessly at 60 FPS. The only exception is its main menu, where it dips slightly. However, outside of that, I rarely saw a frame drop, no matter how frantic the fighting got.
Fortunately, these visuals are bolstered by crunchy sound design that heightens the action tenfold. While the combat animations help drive home the weight and impact of every blow, the powerful sound design accentuates it, turning every fight into what feels like the epic conclusion of a Shonen anime. Additionally, the game’s stellar voice acting, which seamlessly blends dialects from each of the game’s regions, helps to really sell the over-the-top action and narrative in a genuinely enthralling way.
Tekken 8 not only has excellent sound design but also a killer soundtrack. It is an upbeat update from the previous games, carrying over the core themes and motifs that made their soundtracks so great and helping to truly define this fantastic era of Tekken fighting games. Of course, if you don’t gel with it or simply miss the old-school soundtracks, you can choose from a wide selection of music from across the series to listen to when fighting.
“Tekken 8 has undoubtedly set a precedent for its genre, even in an era when Street Fighter 6 knocked it out of the park only a few months ago.”
Unfortunately, when it comes to accessibility options, Tekken 8 is seriously lacking. The only accessibility option available is for those with color blindness. Fortunately, they can alter visual settings for a match to suit their needs. However, outside of this, there are none of the accessibility features that players have begun to expect. It is disappointing that it lacks them, as having more inclusive options should be the standard.
Nevertheless, Tekken 8 players are getting a truly excellent experience for the price. With several fantastic modes to choose from, a dynamic and surprisingly deep narrative, and a varied and exciting roster, all packaged together with gorgeous, jaw-dropping visuals, Tekken 8 is absolutely worth it. I am confident that Tekken 8 is a fighting game that fans, new and old, will love. It has set a precedent for its genre, even with Street Fighter 6 recently knocking it out of the park. Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to head back in and find myself a new character to train.
Disclosure: Game Crater was provided the game for this review.Some links provided in this article are affiliate links. Game Crater will be paid a commission if you use these links to make a purchase.
Tekken 8 Review
Tekken 8 provides a rich fighting game experience that will appease both newcomers and veterans. It offers a variety of modes for those who prefer online, offline, or both, that are sure to keep players entertained for years to come. Its stunning visuals and captivating sound design help to bring to life an impactful experience and elevate the game's otherwise surprisingly deep narrative to the next level. While its lack of accessibility options is confounding, its vast customization options and new gameplay modes such as Arcade Quest give Tekken 8 a step over the competition. Whether you're a fresh face to the genre or returning to settle old grudges, Tekken 8 is absolutely for you and easily the most robust fighting game of the year.