I’ve always enjoyed the Yakuza series, and Yakuza 0 is a nice addition. Here is my spoiler free review of the newest game in the franchise!
This had always been the smaller part of this series. Gameplay has never shined, and still doesn’t, due to its very button – mashy quality and repetitiveness. Yakuza 0 doesn’t bring anything overly new to the table, but what it does bring helps.
You learn numerous different combat styles between Kiryu and Majima (the two playable characters) and each style has its own set of unique moves. That being said, you end up pressing the same button combinations regardless of what style you’re currently in. There isn’t too much thought involved and because of this, fighting does eventually get boring.
Leveling up these fighting styles works a little differently than most games. You have a grid for each one that you can access via the main menu and you spend your in-game currency to acquire new abilities and health upgrades. Some of these can get pricey, so it is best that you save a chunk of change before attempting too much.
Boss fights are enjoyable because each one is progressively harder (as is expected) and each boss has their own type of combat. This is when your arsenal of styles comes into play. You have to observe and decide which fighting style will best combat your enemies.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for random encounters in between story missions. The fights you have out on the street get very old very quickly, even to the point where I was actively avoiding them.
Despite all this, the focus of every Yakuza game has been its story. This boils down to cut scenes; A LOT of them. If that’s not your thing then this isn’t a game for you.
Yakuza 0 serves as a prequel to the franchise, taking place before the original PS2 title. Because of this, it’s a wonderful game to play whether you’re a fan or a first timer. We follow Kazuma Kiryu and Goro Majima back when they were still newbies in the Yakuza underworld. Allowing us to play as two different characters was a great way to keep the story fresh as it jumps between the two every couple of chapters.
I’ve always liked Kiryu as a character, so it was nice being able to experience what took place in the past and how he eventually earned the title of The Dragon of Dojima. Along that same line, Majima is a character we see quite a bit in the original Yakuza, but never really got to learn much about. His back story is fascinating to me and I think I ultimately ended up liking his character the most.
This is a very important aspect of any series that relies heavily on story plots. Yakuza 0 did a fantastic job at making you feel something real for its characters. They have defects and flaws while still holding just enough charm to make you want to root for them, despite what their intentions may be.
We get to see the transformation, especially in Majima, from a baby Yakuza into someone much more powerful and sinister. Kiryu’s selflessness towards Nishki in the first game makes way more sense when you discover how close the two really are, and learning Majima’s background gave me a little more compassion towards him regardless of the original games events. This level of development is ultimately what made me come back each time to continue playing.
Extras (Side quests, Mini-games, etc.)
Setting story plots aside for now, Yakuza is also very good at giving you random things to do that fill up your time. Disco dancing and karaoke are pretty difficult rhythm games that will test your reflexes and give you a good laugh while doing so.
Collectibles like phone cards, while a bit pervy, are silly in their own right. Side stories are a huge part of this worlds exploration and they can be found almost everywhere. There are one hundred quests between our two characters and each one is wackier than the next. Keep in mind that a lot of this involve adult matters, so this is me warning anyone under 17 that a lot of the content probably isn’t appropriate.
Further into the game we even get access to property management and the oh-so-lovely hostess clubs. On top of all that you can play darts and billiards at bars, game machines in the Sega Clubs, and have batting practice at the shooting range. A separate list of objectives are available from the get-go and completing them will net you CP which you can trade in for character buffs and new abilities.
I really love Yakuza 0. I play games mainly for the story, a this one has sucked me in far enough that I can forgive cruddy game play. If you’re a fan of the series then I strongly recommend you give this one a try. And if you’re new, this is the game to play to see if it’s something you’d enjoy!
Thanks for sticking around to read this. Let me know what you thought of the game. Do you like it? Are you fans of the previous games?
Either way, I’ll see you next time!