Tekken 8 has been out since January 26 for PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X/S. While you might be tempted to jump straight into its online matches, which you’re not prepared for—trust me—you should check out the game’s story mode first. Not only does it introduce you to many of Tekken 8‘s characters and themes, but it also sets up a bombastic, relentlessly over-the-top narrative about breaking the chains that hold us back. And it’s a great way to acclimate yourself to some of the game’s new mechanics. This is a story mode you shouldn’t miss.

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Why you should play the Tekken 8 campaign

Tekken 8‘s narrative starts with Jin Kazama hurling a motorcycle at a power-hungry Kazuya Mishima, which kicks off a city-destroying battle between father and son. Buildings crumple. The sky turns crimson. Kazuya, his purple devil wings extended, declares war on the world through the regularly-held King of the Iron Fist tournament. All hell breaks loose as the competition opens up to fighters worldwide, with the winner set to rule over the Mishima Zaibatsu, the paramilitary organization whose purpose is to dominate everyone and everything. Kazuya won’t go down without a fight, as he’s using the competition as a means to draw out the Devil Gene residing within Jin to become the omnipotent ruler of a new world of his creation—because that’s what villains always want, don’t they, ultimate power and control?

We’re talking about Tekken 8’s story, so there’ll be some light spoilers below.

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Throughout Tekken 8‘s roughly five-hour campaign, titled The Dark Awakens, you play as many of the game’s characters. Although Jin is the protagonist, you step into the boots of other combatants like his (potential) love interest Ling Xiaoyu and his half-uncle Lars Alexandersson to see their relationships with each other, Jin, and the Mishima Zaibatsu. This quick bounce between the eclectic roster teaches you the ropes, letting you experiment with simple combos and intricate moves—such as the new combo-extending Heat system—to feel like a fighting game prodigy. You’re not expected to know past mechanics to get into this one, which makes it approachable for folks who’ve never played Tekken before. But having an understanding of the franchise’s mechanics will let you get creative with all of the new systems, making it a fun playground for those adept at Tekken.

As you near the end of Tekken 8‘s campaign, the story reaches a level of ridiculousness reserved for the wildest of anime. There are angels fighting devils, a blurring of the lines between good and evil, a fight atop a plummeting meteorite, and some serious father-son issues that probably won’t be resolved by throwing each other off a cliff. It’s fascinating watching a character who went from good (Tekken 3) to evil (Tekken 6) to good again (Tekken 8), all while showing that acceptance is the only path forward. Tekken 8 comes to terms with its own complicated mechanical past to make way for an approachable future in a manner that mirrors Jin’s growth throughout the campaign. This is some good-ass Tekken, y’all.

Tekken 8’s The Dark Awakens is merely the primer for the rest of the package, though, an electrifying amuse-bouche that titillates the palette for the rest of the game. And there’s plenty of game to go around. There’s still Arcade Quest, which functions as the de facto tutorial mode, as well as other offline and online modes. And though Arcade Quest is another good starting point, the main campaign is the one to boot up first. It’s bombastic and emotional, filled with touching moments and tense fights that serve you all the Tekken tea. It’s a great introductory place for newbies and oldheads alike, as it’s brisk enough to complete in one day and deep enough to give you decent familiarity with many of the game’s new mechanics. So, yeah, you should start your Tekken 8 journey with its campaign. The Dark Awakens is worth it.

Buy Tekken 8: Amazon | Best Buy | Target

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