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TEKKEN 8 Review: A Powerful Fighting Game Dynasty Is Reborn

The Illuminerdi's Danny Bojic steps into the arena to review TEKKEN 8!
Tekken 8

TEKKEN 8 is awesome, plain and simple. Its story, although not perfect, tells a surprisingly heartfelt tale. The gameplay is arguably the best I’ve ever played in a fighting game, which says a lot with the genre thriving with the latest Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and Super Smash Bros. installments. It’s meticulous, challenging, and very technical, yet all I want is to get better. 

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Its roster, unsurprisingly, is stacked with plenty of new and returning characters, each with different playstyles, making every hero and villain feel incredibly unique. It doesn’t feel the need to include characters from other properties to bolster its roster, which you have to respect given the current state of the video game industry. Instead, TEKKEN 8 trusts in its homegrown characters, Jin Kazama and Kazuya Mishima, while introducing (hopefully) future franchise staples in Reina and Victor Chevalier. 

Devil Jin laser beaming Jin
Courtesy of Bandai Namco Entertainment

Now, I should preface that TEKKEN 8 is my first game of the series. I grew up with Smash Bros., Marvel vs. Capcom, and Mortal Kombat, only occasionally playing TEKKEN when I found myself at an arcade. And I definitely felt that impact while playing TEKKEN 8. I was clearly out of the loop regarding the story, and even though I understood the basics of the Mishima family, it was hard for me to look past some of the glaring issues this game has for newcomers.

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However, the post-campaign gameplay is so good and rewarding that I can easily look past any problems I had with it. If you enjoy fighting games, you need to play TEKKEN 8, and it won’t disappoint. 

Thank you to Bandai Namco for providing a code and spoiler warning for those who haven’t played TEKKEN 8.

The Story Kicks Ass

Tekken 8 - Feng featured - 1
Courtesy of Bandai Namco Entertainment

TEKKEN 8‘s campaign is a wild ride. It’s the most anime-like story you’ll probably ever play, complete with absurd power-ups, logic-defying fights, and remarkably jacked characters. It errs on the short side, which has its pros and cons, but at the end of the day, TEKKEN 8 is nonstop action at its finest. 

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The writing, though, could use work in some places, and I would’ve liked maybe another hour of story to add some context for a newcomer like myself. It took me all but four hours to complete TEKKEN 8‘s campaign from start to finish, and while it was a ton of fun, there were plenty of times when story beats didn’t make any sense.

Characters would appear with little to no introduction, and their motivations were even more absent. The game would cut to a new scene with practically no transition, removing any understanding of how much time has passed between them. The writing omits plenty of crucial information, leaving me questioning the characters’ goals, how they factor into this world, their missions, and not to mention the prophecies. Everyone was just here, and the fighting wouldn’t slow down to explain anything for even a second.

King flexing
Courtesy of Bandai Namco Entertainment

However, this didn’t ruin my experience. Bandai Namco tailored the campaign for TEKKEN‘s longtime fans, which I respect. If you love TEKKEN, you’ll love TEKKEN 8. But coming from more story-oriented fighting games like Mortal Kombat and Injustice, I would’ve liked to see them spend a little more time explaining the many threads of TEKKEN 8‘s world-encompassing story. 

Still, TEKKEN 8 offers a compelling campaign focusing on Jin accepting his past failures and freeing himself from the Devil Gene curse. It features some of the most hype video game moments I’ve ever experienced, particularly with the final fight against Kazuya. And I am excited to see where the story goes, especially with Reina vowing to follow Heihachi’s legacy.

The Gameplay Will Keep You Around Long-Term

Tekken 8
Courtesy of Bandai Namco Entertainment

While TEKKEN 8’s story is fun, the post-campaign gameplay is the game’s main draw, and it’ll keep you coming back for a while because there’s a lot to do. Of course, you have your usual fighting game modes here, including Arcade, VS, and online multiplayer. However, TEKKEN 8 shines with its two new game modes: Arcade Quest and Character Episodes. 

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Arcade Quest is practically a campaign of its own. You create an avatar who goes to digital arcades, challenging friends and foes to become the world’s best gamer. Bandai Namco built the game mode around self-improvement. Your avatar friends will cheer you on when you make a crazy play in a match and give you genuine advice on improving your overall skills as a TEKKEN player. It’s adorable, helpful, and an incredibly creative game mode that takes you back to a time when gamers flocked to arcades. 

Character Episodes explore each character’s story as you complete a series of fights. It fills in all the gaps in the game’s campaign, exploring the character’s histories and motivations. I haven’t finished everyone’s episode yet (there are 32 total), but I’ve enjoyed what I’ve played. It addresses almost every complaint I had about the campaign, giving me all the missing information I was begging for. Plus, it allows you to experiment with every character, learning how to play them as you also learn who they are.  

Courtesy of Bandai Namco Entertainment

Of course, I have to mention the character customization because it’s probably the game’s biggest surprise. Every character can customize however you want, with a wide range of hairstyles, clothes, and accessories.

The options seem somewhat basic initially, but you quickly realize there’s more than enough to transform the characters into practically anyone you can imagine. Lars becomes Super Saiyan Blue Goku, Claudio looks like Gojo from Jujutsu Kaisen, and Lili transforms into Nier: Automata’s 2B. Fans have already used the customization to bring their wildest imaginations to life, recreating characters from Final Fantasy, Resident Evil, One Piece, and so much more. And it’s all in the game at launch without spending a cent of extra money. 

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Overall, TEKKEN 8 is the most well-made fighting game I’ve ever played. The graphics are beautiful, the gameplay is challenging, and everything works perfectly at launch. Even if with a fighting game background, the game is hard. It pushes you to learn, practice, and improve like few before it, making the dopamine hit different when you finally pull off the combo you’ve been practicing for hours. And in an era when Mortal Kombat 1 and Street Fighter 6 showcase what fighting games can achieve with their story and multiplayer, TEKKEN 8 is in a league of its own, reminding everyone who the king of the fighting games industry is.

TEKKEN 8 is available now on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.

About TEKKEN 8

Tekken 8

Release Date: January 25, 2024
Developer: Bandai Namco Studios Inc.
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Platforms: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC
Genre: Action, Fighting

Synopsis: In TEKKEN 8, as “The Dark Awakens,” Kazuya Mishima’s vision of hell on earth is now threatening all of humanity. After Heihachi’s defeat, the world has descended into chaos with Kazuya’s power growing and his G Corporation wreaking worldwide havoc. The only one who can stop him is his own son, Jin Kazama, but only if he can reignite the unspeakable power of Devil Jin that runs through his veins.

Have you played TEKKEN 8? If so, what are your thoughts on it? Is there anything you’d like to see Bandai Namco add with DLC? Let us know on social media, and keep following The Illuminerdi for content like this. We’re always watching.

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Danny Bojic

Danny Bojic

Danny Bojic is a writer located in Nashville, TN, who's had a lifelong obsession with video games, comics, movies, and other nerdy things. He's written thousands of articles on topics ranging from movies, TV, and comics to automotive, tech, and video games. With The Illuminerdi, he's attended countless press events, covered conventions, produced online content, and interviewed talent.