About bloody time. Yakuza 0 has been released for Western audiences.
Now released on PlayStation 4, Yakuza 0 finally arrives to the West in all its fighting glory. The game first debuted back in 2015 in Japan on the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, and for years Yakuza fans have eagerly awaited the localisation of this brilliant title. But the question is, was the wait worth it? Let’s find out!
Set as a prequel title for the main series, the narrative presents players with the origin story of series protagonist, Kazuma Kiryu. We begin in 1988 in the fictional city of Kamurocho, with our character doing a collection run on behalf of a shady loan shark. After reporting back (swimming back hahaha… sorry) to the shark and celebrating a job well done, you find out later that the poor bastard you roughed up is now dead. With the Yakuza family now in the spotlight, Kiryu must now find the suspect, prove his innocence, and restore honour back to his name.
After completing the first two chapters, the game then switches over to our second protagonist, Goro Majima. Set in a completely different city, chapter three opens up in Sotenburi, Osaka, where Majima runs a Cabaret bar on behalf of his Yakuza clan. After enduring insults from customers and violence from both arrogant businessmen and thugs, Majima finally raises the funds needed to earn his place back in his clan.
However, despite Majimas incredible persistence and business skills, the clan still demands Majima to either raise an additional 500 million yen, or accept a hit job on behalf of the organisation.
Throughout the game, players will switch back and forth between both characters as the story progresses.
As far as plot details are concerned, from here on out this review won’t be discussing it, simply for the fact at just how friggin’ awesome it is. (And because my boss keeps telling me to keep articles short. Don’t tell him I said that.) The only thing I’ll say on this matter is that, yes, both of the characters’ stories do end up bridging themselves together to lead into one epic finale.
Now that the plot is out of the way, let’s get talking.
Voice acting and performance is portrayed incredibly well. Despite it being dubbed in a language I don’t understand, SEGA has at least taken the initiative to provide us unworldly Westerners with English subtitles. But as far as language barriers are concerned, players can still appreciate the brilliant performances throughout this title. Characters within both pre-rendered and in-game cutscenes are excellent, and at times it feels as though I’m watching a live TV drama.
When the game is not luring me to pursue goofy side quests or mini-games, Yakuza 0 has quite the compelling tale. With elements of both crime, corruption, drama, family, and betrayal, Yakuza 0 will have players glued to their seats from start to finish. That being said, I’m glued to my seat about 90 per cent of the time ordinarily, so perhaps that isn’t the greatest endorsement.
As well as the story, it can’t go without mentioning the game’s insane combat mechanics. As an open-world adventure series, combat has always played a huge role throughout these games. In Yakuza 0, this remains true to form throughout the city streets, as players encounter a wide variety of Thugs and Yakuza members to kick the living daylights out of.
Combat in this game is brutal, rough, at times a little slow, and incredibly satisfying.
Each punch and knockout feels lethal and adds to the sensation of being a badass. While there are elements about the gameplay that may feel a little dated to some degree – such as the awkward lock-on features or the fairly unwavering attacks – Yakuza 0 does provide solutions to this matter through its three different fighting stances. Between our two protagonists, each one can switch up their combat styles between three different stances, all of which differ in attack speed, movement and dodging.
As players progress through the main story, more and more side missions eventually become unlocked through the two main cities. In addition to completing those quests, players on Kiryu’s storyline eventually unlock a real-estate business. (Told you gaming teaches me practical life-lessons Mum!!). In these completely optional side missions, players can purchase properties, invest, and make collections on behalf of the company. As for Majima’s area, players can participate in operating a Cabaret club for additional funds and upgrades.
Throughout my time in Yakuza 0, I was surprised about how much time I was able to sink into these two modes. While still remaining a completely optional mini-game, the amount of depth within these modes will keep players enthralled to the point that some may even forget about completing the main story altogether.
If you’re a longtime fan or completely new to the series, Yakuza 0 is definitely a title worth grabbing. While it may feel a little slow within the first hour, it doesn’t take long for the game to really kick in. With its kooky side missions, kickass combat mechanics, and brilliant story, Yakuza 0 is a title rich in substance and charm.