Tekken 8


2023 has been a crazy year for fighting games, with Street Fighter 6 and Mortal Kombat 1 re-inventing themselves and experimenting with new ideas in excellent ways. Now, after more than six years, Tekken is finally back and ready to show who the King of the Iron Fist Tournament really is. This 8th instalment continues the story that started back in 1994, but it’s also very accessible to newcomers thanks to a series of short video recaps going from the first to the last game (including Tekken Tag). The story mode is called “The Dark Awakens” and is divided into 15 chapters. It takes place after the death of Heihachi Mishima, showing the never-ending rivalry between Jin Kazama and his father Kazuya. As usual, the narration is super exaggerated, especially towards the end, but I appreciated the nods to the previous games and a couple of plot twists. One thing that I didn’t like though is how they used pre-rendered cutscenes to narrate the story, and then switched to real time render when it was time to fight. You can easily tell the difference: cinematic cutscenes look like low-bitrate videos while gameplay includes high-quality character models and textures. There is probably a technical reason behind this decision, yet I can’t say it looks good. At least the transitions from cutscene to gameplay are seamless and also include some QTEs from time to time.

If after completing the story mode you want to enjoy more single player content, you can try “Character Episodes”, which is essentially the old classic arcade mode. After selecting one of the 32 available characters, you will watch a brief introduction and play 5 matches. Once you beat the final opponent, you will unlock the character’s ending (which is often very silly), plus some rewards such as money and customization items. While this is a decent mode for single player, 5 matches end really quickly and I think this mode could have used more narrative content, such as cutscenes in-between rounds and special dialogues with certain opponents. The character roster is very big, but I can’t ignore the fact that some legacy ones are missing (Lei, Eddie, Anna, Julia, Mokujin etc.) and will probably be locked behind the purchase of DLCs, which is a practice that I will never approve.

Anyway, single player also features a brand-new mode called “Arcade Quest”. Here, you will need to create your own avatar and rank up by winning Tekken tournaments from a variety of arcades. This mode is primarily aimed at new players, who need to practice through battles of increasing difficulty in order to learn all the gameplay mechanics and features. Although this mode feels really short and generic, it’s also a good way to unlock more customization items for your avatar, profile and characters. Additionally, you can join the Tekken online lounge where you can meet other players, chat, fight and add them to your friends’ list. There is also a separate online mode for ranked matches.

Gameplay-wise, combat is based on the solid roots of Tekken 7. Each of the 32 characters has a different fighting style, with their own strengths and weaknesses. Some of them are easier to learn, while others are very difficult to master. Combat mechanics feature a Heat system, which is represented by a blue bar beneath the health bar. After activating Heat Mode with the press of one button, you can perform powerful attacks such as Burst, Smash, Dash and Engager, which are unique for each character and they can deal damage even when blocked. Another important combat mechanic is represented by the Rage Art. This can only be activated when your health is very low and allows your character to deal massive damage by performing a special attack, which fortunately can be blocked, so it needs perfect timing and precision.

Similarly to Street Fighter 6, the game also includes a simplified control scheme which makes it easier to perform combos and special attacks. It may sound perfect for newcomers who just want to enjoy casual matches and single player modes, but keep in mind this is not a button-smasher. Once you start playing online, you will find opponents who know exactly what they are doing and you will eventually feel frustrated for not having the same knowledge and control over characters. It may take some time to master your favorite fighters, but Tekken 8 helps you with the introduction of Super Ghost battles. All the players can have ghosts for their characters, which are controlled entirely by AI. These ghosts learn from all the matches you play, then they faithfully mimic your habits and evolve as you increase your skills. You can challenge your own ghosts, or you can download ghosts from friends and other (pro) players, so this is really a revolutionary way to train yourself and reach perfection with the help of AI.

Tekken 8 also sees the return of the fan-favorite Tekken Ball mode. I haven’t played it since Tekken 3, so I was really happy to see it back and now with the option to play online too. Tekken Ball is basically 1vs1 volleyball without net or rules, but the ball inflicts damage to the opponents if it touches the ground or if they get hit. You can freely use any attack or move, but you can’t go to the other opponent’s field. It’s a really fun mode for those who want to take a break from the more intense fighting matches.

Graphically speaking, the game is powered by the Unreal Engine 5 and looks amazing, with gorgeous special effects and small details such as veins on the arms. Tekken 8’s music is also decent enough, ranging from rock to electronic, but does not reach the variety of genres featured in the old games. Fortunately, there is a huge collection of soundtracks from all previous games available in the Jukebox and you can select and mix any of them.

Undoubtedly, Tekken 8 is the king of 2024 fighting games and on par with the experience I had with Street Fighter 6 last year. There are plenty of modes, offline and online, for all kinds of players and the combat system remains satisfying and accessible. It’s hard to find negatives about the game; the ones I listed above are more like personal disappointments or what I would like to see improved in the future. Now the only thing that could make me happier is a brand-new Street Fighter X Tekken game.

Review written by Sonic Punk for Zeepond.com

Tekken 8 Steam Store Page


+ Fantastic story mode with epic narration
+ Big roster made of old and new characters
+ Satisfying combat improved with the Heat System
+ Huge amount of customization options
+ Solid online netcode
+ The return of Tekken Ball
+ AI Ghost battles are impressive


- Pre-rendered cutscenes in story mode are low-quality
- Character Episodes could have used more narrative content
- Arcade Quest mode is too simple and generic
- Characters locked behind DLCs purchase

Review Summary

Tekken 8 will probably be remembered as the best fighting game of 2024, with its epic story mode, top-notch gameplay and a big roster of 32 characters.

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Zeepond Rating: 9/10