Yakuza 0 is awesome. I just had to start with this phrase to give the game justice.
I have never played a Yakuza game in my life, so I decided to give the series a shot with this prequel to the entire lore. Man, was I impressed. Yakuza 0 features incredible combat controls, an interesting story and a demented amount of content. I don’t even know where to begin…
Dammit Kiryu, didn’t your parents teach you to take off your shoes before coming in?
I was expecting a wacky nonsensical story to be presented, but I was very impressed with how deep and immersive the game’s plot is. The game’s chapters are presented like episodes from a TV series, and feature betrayal, drama, heists, comic relief, plot twists and crapton of martial arts. To top it off, there are two stories, as the game features two different characters, each with different cities to explore, items, missions and fighting styles.
Expect a very long playthrough, and a non-exhaustive one at that. It takes a little while for the game to pick up the pace, but once it does
Speaking of fighting styles, those are one of the game’s main highlights. Each character has three different styles, which range from conventional martial arts to, well, breakdancing.Each fighting style is full of combos and different tricks to pull out, making the combat extremely fun, fast-paced and enjoyable. You’ll beg for bullies and yakuza members to come at you and start a fight, given how fun they are.
Oh Japan, you so cray cray…
While the story is already enough to consider buying this game, the side missions and minigames steal the show.
The amount of things you can do is ridiculously large. Listing a few, but not all: darts, poker, karaoke, slot machines, helping a guy find his pants, stop a high school girl from selling her underwear to grown up men, playing classic Sega arcade games such as Space Harrier and Out Run, bowling, pretending to be a movie producer, and many many many more. Not only there are so many things to do, but each one of these activities can give you lots of money, which not only is your currency, but also your experience points. You can spend cash in everything ranging from a can of 7-Up to new moves, extra health and a god damn golden katana, because why not?
For such a small map compared to other open world games, Sega did wonders to cram as much content as possible within the worlds of Yakuza 0, making those recreations of Tokyo’s and Osaka’s nightlife districts more alive than many other open world games with maps hundreds of times larger. Quality is better than quantity, as always!
With so much praise given to this game, it’s hard to pick up flaws in it, but I gotta address the few them anyway.
First of all, while the visuals are indeed fine and well polished, managing a constant framerate of 60fps, you can notice that those are high quality PS3 visuals, and not PS4, given that this game was originally released in 2015 for both platforms. It’s not that they are bad, but you will notice some last-gen elements, especially with the less important NPCs.
Finally, the camera controls are quite annoying. The game is set in the heart of the entertainment districts of Tokyo and Osaka, which feature A LOT of very narrow streets and tight corridors, which don’t help at all with the camera controls. It really doesn’t help that the game is mostly set in cramped spaces, be it outside or inside buildings.
Fighting street delinquents in a small alley with a shiny katana. I love you Japan
None of these issues make Yakuza 0 a bad game in any way. This is, so far, the best game of 2017 and a serious contender for a Best Games of the Year list induction when December comes.
I’m so glad Sega is also releasing the remake of the first Yakuza game, Yakuza Kiwami in the West in the middle of the year. I’ll surely buy the damn thing at launch. Congrats Yakuza, you have a new fan.
And here’s a picture of a wasted old man wearing money like a hat, because why not.
Stay classy, folks
Also available on: PS3