Yakuza-0-Review Yakuza 0 Review

   07/08/2018 at 18:44       Chris OToole       0 COMMENTS. - Score 5/5
 - Beat Em Up, Mini Games, Sega

Review by Steven Christie.


I adore Shenmue. I know I’m not alone. It didn’t have a massive map or insane amount of side-quests, it was just this charmingly focused story set in a really small yet detailed world. 

There’s something about the world they’ve built in Yakuza 0 that reminds me of that same Shenmue feel. The entertainment districts the game is set in may not be massive, but they genuinely feel far more alive than most other open-world playgrounds. Those bright lights and vibrants colours create an amazing backdrop to intertwining stories that quickly draw you in and have you desperate to see where it takes the great cast of characters. The story takes place in 1988, so the clothing on all the NPCs you meet is every bit as vibrant as the world around you.

This is the first game in the series chronologically, which makes for a very welcoming experience for series first-timers like myself, even if you might not pick up on seeing the origins of certain characters and relationships from later games. Your first playable character, Kiryu, quickly finds himself in the middle of a vicious yakuza leadership struggle when a routine debt collection job escalates to something far more sinister. As his journey takes him further from the yakuza, you’re introduced to your other playable character Majima, the charismatic silver-tongued manager of Grand Cabaret who is looking for a way back into the yakuza. Much like Kiryu, his story takes a turn for the worse fairly quickly. These stories alternate throughout the game and never become boring, full of all sorts of twists and turns that keeps them engaging throughout. I’m usually the sort of person to seek out and finish every side-mission before I get on with the main story, but in Yakuza 0 the story got its hooks in me and refused to let me get distracted.

The main gameplay focus as you play through the story is on hand-to-hand fighting. The combat is fantastic, with it being easy to learn but with plenty of depth in both the available moveset and the upgrade system. As you play, you’ll unlock 3 fighting styles for each character which you can switch between on the fly, each with lots of upgrades to buy with the cash you earn to customise it to your liking. There are a whole range of unlockable moves and combos for each style, as well as more standard fare like health and heat meter upgrade. The Heat system in particular adds an exciting layer to combat, charging up as you do damage and unlocking brutal, heavily damaging special moves unique to each fighting style. Kiryu and Majima have very different feels to them, so the story switching between them keeps both the story and gameplay feeling fresh throughout.

Make no mistake though, the game does it’s best to provide you with plenty of distractions in its excellently realised open-world. As you explore, you’ll run into all sorts of weird and wonderful characters. Some will be friendly towards you with a nice and clear Friendship Meter that you can nurture as you play. Some random encounters will trigger fights, meaning you’ll have to defend yourself, though it’s worth it as you’ll make some money to put towards upgrades or one of the many mini-games.

There are also lots of side-missions that can get triggered as you explore, and lots of optional mini-games. I always love it when you go into a virtual Arcade in a game like this and the games are actually playable, especially when those games are Sega classics like Outrun and Space Harrier. I wouldn’t want to spoil all the mini-games on offer, but rest assured if you do want to take a break from the main story or come back to the game once it’s done, there is a wide variety of things to see and do. It can be quite funny seeing Kiryu, the more serious of the 2 protagonists, taking something like slot car racing so seriously when he has more important concerns, but it all feeds into that joyful tone and feel the game has.

The game is best played with a controller, a fact the game reminds you of every time you start it up as it flashes up the message “Real Yakuza Use a Gamepad”. If you choose to use a PS4 or Xbox One controller, the game even adapts to show you the appropriate button prompts. If you do want to stick with mouse and keyboard though, the controls are all fully customisable, though I found the defaults to be fairly decent for the most part.

On the visual front, it looks amazing. Whilst I ran into an issue at first with the game defaulting to the integrated graphics card rather than my Nvidia one, but once it was switched across the game really looks stunning. It’s silky smooth and has plenty of options to play around with to customise it to your liking. It really makes the already incredible looking open-world pop all the more. This is a pretty good port that’s well worth your time.

Yakuza 0 can feel rather quirky, a little dated, and a smidge tonaly uneven, but almost everything in the game is designed around making sure you have fun. Even when the story takes darker turns, the gameplay is so enjoyable that you’re always having a good time. It’s never a game that is ashamed of what it is, it wears its weirdness on its sleeve. If you’re on board with that and embrace it, this is one of the most unique and interesting games there is, leaving me very thankful they brought the series to PC.

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Better late than never, eh Ror?
Khanivor - In response to: Battle Chasers: Nightwar Review - 246day(s) ago.
Enjoyed this, cheers!
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Looks who's back. Shady's back.
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Micro Machines was my favourite!
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i agree chris, the Aliens table makes the others look bad.. because its so goood!! but they arent that bad.. haha! ...
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