Hey gang, Valkor here. Whenever an opportunity presents itself, I’ll try my best to escape to Japan. And if you’ve never been and you’ve always wanted to pay a visit, please do because to me, it’s quite the experience. Japan has a uniqueness about in it that you’ll find something new around every corner. And that’s one of the reasons why I enjoy the Yakuza games by Sega – because of how it captures points of interest as well as show off some of Japan’s charms. But with the latest title, Yakuza 0, we’re taken back to the 80s. And while much has changed, some things stay the same. And to top it all, the game is a whole mess of fun for plenty of reasons that I’ll detail below.
"Yakuza 0" takes a step back in time and places the focus on Kiryu Kazuma and Goro Majima; the two characters follow separate paths that start out in the yakuza family, but due to unlikely events, they’re removed from the family to lead separate lives – Kiryu works for a real estate firm, while Goro runs a cabaret nightclub. The two plots eventually become intertwined and there are plenty of twists and turns along the way that will keep you fully engrossed in their tales from start to finish.
Yakuza 0 is an open-world title that’s not as vast as say “Grand Theft Auto”, but the world our two main characters inhabit is teeming with life and there’s so much to see and do, such as visit shops and eateries, play mini-games such as darts, karaoke, and pool just to name a few, take on thugs who look to get in your way, and get involved in some quirky side missions that are great distractions, but they won’t take you too far away from the main story. The two plots involve heavy cinematics, and while they can be lengthy, it’s not overly done. Plus there are enough fights and missions that’ll break up the storytelling and keep you on your toes.
Now, when it comes to tackling baddies, both Kiryu and Goro deploy a different style of fighting that can be upgraded by “investing” in their abilities; Kiryu is more “hands on”, while Goro makes good use of weapons. The two are given three styles of fighting that you can change up with the quickness. Each style also builds up "heat", which will allow your character to pull off some amazing, yet excruciating finishing moves.
I recently took a trip to Osaka, Japan and while it wasn’t my first visit, exploring certain areas reminded me much of Yakuza 0 (and the Yakuza series as a whole), except more modern with plenty of bright and colorful areas as well as some that are pretty dark and dreary. It really shows off the developer’s level of commitment given how much detail they put into the title. But there I go getting ahead of myself, so let’s see how well Yakuza 0 fares in the TOV Breakdown.
While I haven’t played much of the Yakuza series, I do know that after an opportunity for some hands-on with any of the titles, I've never walked away disappointed. And you can add Yakuza 0 to the mix as the game is probably the most fun to play. It’s not overly packed as the game keeps the main plots centered on two characters rather than stretching it out more than that. The plot is easy to follow, with enough going on that it never grows dull. And while the cutscenes are lengthy, it’s nothing like a Metal Gear Solid title (and I’m mainly looking at you Solid 4). Controls are on point and when it comes to combat, I love how seamlessly I can switch between the protagonist’s different styles of fighting. Kiryu is my dude, but Goro can crack a bat over a skull like no one’s business. Graphically, the game is breathtaking in its own right as there’s literally so much to see. And if you’ve ever visited Japan, it’ll all feel so familiar and it will make you fully appreciate the level of detail the developers put into this title. In the end, Yakuza 0 is a wonderful entry into the Yakuza series, with a compelling story, great detail and excellent controls that make it a worthy addition to anyone’s collection.
Some of those finishing moves will make you wince, like DAMN!
Yakuza 0 is available now for the PlayStation 4, and it’s a title you simply must add to your collection, especially if you follow the series. But even if you’re a newcomer, the game is easily accessible without overwhelming you too much. And with great visuals, a rich and gritty storyline, and a fun combat system, Yakuza 0 easily gets a 4.5 out of TOV 5 stars.