Tekken is a Japanese fighting game series, developed and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment (formerly Namco), that saw its first release back in 1994. You might have already seen some of the games from this series running on arcade gaming machines with players smashing the buttons in a frenzy and performing increasingly complex moves to earn bragging rights among their friends. The first game I played in this series was Tekken 3 that released in 1997, and I was immediately hooked. The game was revolutionary for its time and leaps ahead of its contemporary fighting games. While Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter had already developed a loyal fanbase, Tekken came like a breath of fresh because of its unique fighting style. On top of this, the game even featured a rich storyline that helped captivate the players’ attention and gave meaning to the battles and rivalries.
Now, the publisher is ready for the launch of the eighth entry in the mainline series with Tekken 8, and after almost a decade-long wait, the hype for the new game seems to be higher than ever. Before we jump into the detailed review, I would like to mention that the game’s review code was provided to me by Bandai Namco for PlayStation 5.
Fighting mechanics and gameplay
Usually, I start my game reviews with the main story featured in the game but in fighting games, as we all know, the story takes a backseat. These games are largely judged and enjoyed based on fighting mechanics. Tekken has taken a deviation from its usual playing style in this game and it feels a lot faster than the previous games in this series.
While the game still offers a slower fighting experience than Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat, the difference is not as noticeable now as it was in the previous generations.
Tekken 8 features a new control scheme – ‘Special Style’ – aimed at simplifying the fighting experience for new gamers. It lets you perform otherwise complex combos by tapping the same button (triangle on the DualSense controller) thrice. This new control scheme also lets you perform special moves with just one button (square on DualSense). You can toggle Special Style on and off in real time by tapping the designated button (L1 by default). Activating special Style will show a list of available moves on the corner of the screen as well (extremely convenient for newcomers).In Special Style, the Square button (on the DualSense controller) will trigger a speciality move for your character. Try using the button in neutral or pressing different directions to toggle different moves. The Triangle button triggers an automatic air combo. Once you’ve started your combo, you can try pressing different buttons to trigger different combo paths. The Cross button triggers a Power Crush move. Power Crush will absorb incoming damage as recoverable health and still deliver an attack. The Circle button triggers a low attack. Holding different directions will trigger different moves.
There is also the brand-new heat system (not to be confused with the rage art that can be activated when your health is low), which helps you combat your opponent’s attacking moves. You can activate Heat manually by tapping a button (R1 by default) to go into Heat Burst. Heat Burst has a Power Crush option, making it a good defensive tool when under pressure. Notably, Heat can also be activated by going into specific moves during a combo, called Heat Engagers. Depending on your character, you can do the Combo Challenges to learn ways to use Heat
offensively this way.
Heat Dash is another important component of this system and allows you to move forward quickly when a Heat Engager hits or is blocked, but Heat will end afterwards.
Tekken 8 brings a host of game modes with it, some from previous games and some entirely new. Overall, the game offers a good mix of game modes to keep players engaged irrespective of whether they want to play online or offline. Let’s talk about all of them in detail.
The father-son duo of Kazuya Mishima and Jin Kazama lock their heads once again in Tekken 8 and the story begins with Jin losing some of his special powers. Kazuya, who is consumed by power, announces the commencement of ‘The King of Iron Fist Tournament’, a fighting tournament where fighters from around the world take part to show their prowess and decide the fate of their respective countries. Jin takes part in this hardly-fought tournament, which is interrupted in the middle, and soon enough, the fate of humanity is at stake with the war between Kazuya-led G Corporation and the fighters who took part in this competition.
If we talk about the story, this is not a multi-layered tale that is hard to follow. The story, which spans 15 chapters is primarily focussed on the relationship between Jin, his mother, and Kazuya. While Jin overcomes his personal struggles to overcome his father, he finds some friends along the way who make it easier for him to take down Kazuya. One of the main caveats of this story mode is that the outcome of your fights doesn’t impact the story. Whether you win or lose a battle, the story progresses in the same direction. However, I would say that this is one of the more compelling storylines that have been featured in a Tekken game to date. There is also a section in the game that lets you catch up on the stories from previous games in the series to keep you updated even if you are new to this series.
This is a story about a newcomer to the Tekken 8 scene, set in game arcades. This mode is specifically aimed at newcomers and can help them learn the ins and outs of how to play arcade style, rise in the rankings, and unlock customisation items along the way. I found this game mode to be a bit gimmicky and didn’t truly feel like it belonged in a game from 2024.
This type of game mode might have worked in the early 2010s but right now, it feels dated and adds little value for anyone who has played the game before. However, completing Chapter 1 in this game mode unlocks ‘Ghost Battle’, which is an extremely interesting new addition.
This game mode lets you fight against AI ghosts created based on AI learning of your own play tendencies. This means that if you continuously use certain moves to defeat your opponents, it will consider that (just like a real player would usually do) and attack you accordingly. This makes it one of the most interesting game modes in any fighting game right now and you can even battle against downloaded community Ghosts and Ghosts based on developer play, which unlocks a host of new possibilities as you can play against AI that mimics the play style of professional players to improve your level.
Tekken Fight Lounge
At the time of writing this review, the online servers are not active yet for me, so I haven’t been able to test out this mode. It essentially lets compete in Ranked or Player matches and view leaderboards.
This mode makes a return to the game after a long time (last included in Tekken 3) and is a fun and relaxing experience. Here, the aim is to pass on the damage to your opponent via a ball. Just like earlier, there are different ball types as well – Beach ball, Iron ball, Tekken ball, and more. One thing to keep in mind is that ball physics remains the same irrespective of the ball you choose.
The series has taken a different direction compared to previous games in the graphics department with Tekken 8. The game has moved towards photorealism with the use of Unreal Engine 5 and this opens a world of possibilities. Some notable aspects in terms of graphics are hair physics, destructible environments, and implementation of slo-mo visual representation of certain special moves. As far as graphics settings are concerned, you don’t get any customisation options here.
However, I would like to say that without a doubt, this is the best-looking Tekken game to date. Although I would still say that other fighting games, i.e. Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat, have improved far more than Tekken from their respective previous iterations.
Tekken 8 is a great fighting game in its own right but most of its new experiments do not prove to be game-changers. For the fans of this series, this game is a must-buy and with the new control scheme, even newcomers would find it easy to pick up the controller and play this game. However, for those of you who had high expectations from this game and wanted it to bring some new things to the table that can keep you engaged for the next 5-7 years (if not more), you might feel shortchanged.
Editor’s Rating: 8 / 10
- The Special Style control scheme is good for newcomers
- Improved graphics
- Use of AI in Ghost Battle mode
- Homage to previous Tekken games
- Arcade Quest mode feels gimmicky
- The mainline story mode feels short