The Yakuza franchise returns to the West with Yakuza 0, originally released in 2015 this nearly two year old game smashes almost every Western game release within that period due to its mini games, enclosed yet very open-world, story, and core gameplay.
Yakuza 0 is an 2017 Western port of the Japanese Beat ‘Em Up, it is developed and published by SEGA, it is available exclusively on Playstation 4 in the West.
Having very little experience with the Yakuza franchise I can proudly say that Yakuza 0 is one of the best gaming experiences I’ve had within the last year at least. This brawler beat’em up is based on the very titular crime organization, and is also placed in the 80s, thus making it a prequel to the Yakuza franchise. Featuring two playable protagonist with multiple styles between them, Yakuza 0 will having players putting tons of hours in with mini games, random brawls, real game arcades, and much, much, much more.
THE GOOD: Yakuza 0 is a prime example of “don’t judge a book by it’s cover”, especially if you’re a first time player. While the initial viewing of some outdated textures, less than open feeling world, and slow grind within the first opening hours may begin as a turn off, if you stick with the game (which you most definitely should), you’ll find an incredibly deep, vast gaming world that truly rivals AAA titles released from Yakuza 0’s original 2015 Japanese launch onward.
As you advanced throughout Yakuza 0’s admittedly dull looking initial introduction, the game reveals its true colors with mini games and side quest that expand the content nearly beyond measure. I complete the main story at about 43 hours with some optional content still being left to do, and even then I was barely scratching the surface of this world. The voice work from the cast is some of the finest acting I’ve seen in gaming from recent memory, and the script is absolutely fantastic from start to its heart breaking finish (for Majima fans anyway). Throughout your play through you become so emotionally invested into nearly every character featured within the main story. They never feel one-note or black and white, and just when you figure them out a new element is added to their personalities.
While others may not enjoy it’s over the top style and camp, it should be noted that it’s part of its charm, much like many Japanese developed games. From playing majong, to betting money on Kiryu for fights, to running a Cabaret Club where you level up your hired women in RPG like fashion, Yakuza 0’s world is full of multiple activities that even the harshest of critics of Japanese developed games will find enjoyable.
THE BAD: No English dub.
OVERALL THOUGHTS: Yakuza 0 is a beautifully crafted game with nearly no faults, most of which are minor annoyances at best, the story and characters are both impactful and lovable, and if you’re looking to enjoy the game to its fullest you’ll be playing well over 50+ hours of an amazing prequel.