Yakuza 0 Review: High times in low company
Kamurocho Kiryu has a busy day ahead of him.
He promised a kid he’d track down the thug that stole his videogame off him and he’s been approached by a film crew in desperate need of someone willing to pretend to be their producer so that their prima donna director doesn’t storm off the set.
He’s also in the process of shutting down an underage underwear-selling ring and a dominatrix has asked him to help her be more assertive. Oh, and there’s that little matter of hunting down the bastards that framed him for a murder he didn’t commit that led to him being thrown out of his Yakuza clan.
Goro Majima’s day isn’t going much better.
He’s promised a lady that he’ll infiltrate a religious cult to have a word with her daughter about returning home and he’s told a government official he’ll sit down and give him ‘the man in the street’s’ view on new taxation laws.
He’s also trying to track down a fake necklace for a bloke who’ll get dumped by his girlfriend if he fails, and there’s a girl outside a video arcade who won’t go home unless he wins her a toy from one of the machines. Oh, and there’s the small matter of him having to kill a pimp for his handlers if he wants to earn his way back into the Yakuza.
Yakuza 0 Review: Welcome to the circus
If the all of the above doesn’t sound very appealing, stop reading now. If you’re intrigued, pick up a copy of Yakuza 0 immediately. You won’t be disappointed.
It’s likely that anyone reading this who has played any of the other entries in Sega’s superb beat ’em up adventure series is already playing Yakuza 0.
For the rest of you, here’s the juice: Yakuza 0 is a Japanese gangster epic that’s equal parts brawler and open world RPG, filled to the brim with quests that run the gamut from surreal to absolutely bonkers. It’s packed with mini-games, collectibles and it also has world building missions laid over the top of it.
Most important of all, it’s some of the most fun you can have with your clothes on (unless you play videogames in the nude and hey, we’re not judging). The game’s key strength – as far as players outside Asia are concerned – is the fact that it can plunge players into a layered narrative that’s integrally linked to a foreign culture and make them feel right at home coming out of the gate.
Yakuza 0 Review: It’s in the details
In Yakuza 0 players will have the opportunity to do a lot of weird stuff. A lot of weird stuff. And while the dual plotlines of two disgraced Yakuza keep the general chaos anchored somewhat, it’s the weird stuff that’ll keep players hooked to this game.
The examples mentioned in this review’s opening are only a taster of the sort of shenanigans Yakuza 0 has tucked away in its 17 chapters. On top of side missions, Yakuza 0 offers players the chance to become a property baron (with Kiryu) and run a swanky nightclub (with Majima). Both of these world-building games are oodles of fun and more importantly, they allow players to rake in cash.
Yakuza 0 Review: Invest in yourself
Earning cash, incidentally, is a top priority in Yakuza 0. Beyond buying trinkets, power-ups, property, karaoke and the odd round at a video arcade, cash allows players to unlock the protagonists’ talent trees. This is mainly centres on the game’s combat system – upgrading both attacks, move-sets, health and power ups – turning Kiryu and Majima into brawling badasses.
The game’s combat isn’t especially deep, although players will eventually be able to switch between four distinct styles for both characters on the fly. They can also unlock new moves by visiting certain characters dotted throughout the game’s map. Fights are worth getting into, by the way, because Majima and Kiryu beat money out of their opponents.
Yakuza 0 Review: Verdict
Yakuza 0 is a gorgeous time sink. While it could stand to be a little deeper in its mechanical department and some of its cut scenes do go on a bit, there are few games as eccentric, inviting and addictive as this one.
Players can easily cane this game within a 24-hour timeframe, but that’s only if they stick the missions tied in to the central narrative. Go off-road an explore every piece of content Yakuza 0 has to offer and you could be playing this game until winter sets in. And believe us when we tell you, the off-road trips aren’t just worth it, they’re essential.
- Yakuza 0 was reviewed on a PS4. A retail copy was provided by the publisher.