Many like to boil Shenmue down to an open-world adventure game. Fundamentally they wouldn’t be wrong, but it undermines the title’s ambition. What makes the game special is not the countless items you can examine, the number of characters or size of the towns. It’s the craftsmanship of the world, its citizens and how the two interact.
Part of what completes Shenmue is its weather system, which can change the atmosphere of the environment. It’s something I would largely overlook if I didn’t have a surreal experience with it.