Back in 2005, Sega came out with the first of the in the Yakuza series titled Ryū ga Gotoku (龍が如く Like a Dragon). This would come over to America as Yakuza in 2006. Since than Yakuza 2-6 have been come out with a few spin-off games as well as this current title Yakuza 0. Yakuza 0 marks the first release for the series that has been brought over to PC in what has been a PlayStation only venture. It’s time to see what all the fuss is about and dig in deep! This is our Yakuza 0 PC Review.
What once started out as a beat em up style game with a story focusing on the world of the Yakuza has grown over the years into the current franchise. Yakuza games if you look at it through a black or white lens can be sliced down the middle and divided between the main plot of the game which tends to be fairly heavy with drama, depth and harsh undertones with a fighting game that who’s combat has evolved over the years and then there’s everything else the game can throw at you. But it’s both of these combined together which makes the game the gem it can be. To give you an idea of how much is in Yakuza 0, if you looked it up on various websites that list how long it takes to beat it; the average is 30 hours to beat the main story, 62 hours for the main story and extras and up to 98 hours to complete everything. Let that sink in for a moment and you may have begun to get an idea of what Yakuza 0 is. Let’s separate each component and look at them more in depth.
THE CORE GAME
You play Kazuma Kiryu in Yakuza 0. He is the main protagonist in the Yakuza series and in here he’s just starting out, a low man on the Yakuza chain. It’s through him you experience the main story at first here, which is about the goings on in neon city of Kamurocho and (wait for it) … Real Estate. No Kazuma does not suddenly get a new job selling houses, but in the district, he lives in where money is king and might really does make right owning several properties before a buyout is about to happen is big money. Big enough to lead to murder, lying, betrayal, and pain. You must delve deep into this story to figure out the truth and fight for the Honor that Kazuma believes in as he tries to do what is right. But that’s only half the story as you get to see another part of the story unfold when you switch to play Goro Majima; an assassin who couldn’t kill his latest target (a blind girl) and is now a target himself. Throughout this whole story not only will you learn more about these main protagonists, but you will meet other fully fleshed out characters along the way that add to the depth of Yakuza 0’s story. It is a story that at times will surprise you and may reach deep into your heart and pull a string or two.
The other part of the focus in Yakuza 0 and to be fair in every Yakuza game of the main series, is the combat. You have combat styles you can switch between in mid-combat or if you prefer to stick to one and work on leveling it getting all the goodies for it. Each style feels good and competent on its own, but if you want to truly experience Yakuza 0 in all its glory, I would recommend sticking to the power style for Kiryu. It’s all about guts and power, diving headlong into your foes while charging up your power meter. Which can allow for even more devastating attacks, like picking up a bicycle and swinging it around or smashing it into your foes’ face.
Depending on where you fight at and what’s around there is also the ability to smash heads into walls and such. Yakuza does not pull its punches in regards to the fights in the game, they are often times bloody and violent affairs with not only fists but also limited use weapons are thrown into the mix. Throughout the story, you will be forced into combat to get your point across (at one point Kiryu beats up 2 drunks to make them sober.. And it works) and come across random roving gangs in the city who will want to fight you. You may want to hunt them down as well, every person you defeat awards you with money which you can use to buy food, drink, and items; but more importantly money is used to level up your fighting techniques. You are quite literally putting money into yourself to become stronger. The combat system fairs better with a controller versus a keyboard and mouse and once you learn the nuances of it becomes quite enjoyable (which may be something you expect from a beat em up style game). Sprinkle in some heavy-duty boss fights with the occasional quick time event and you have a well-done fighting game.
THE SIDE GAMES
If you were just to stick to the main story of Yakuza 0, it may wear you out with all of its heavy drama and dark undertones. That’s where all the side content comes into play. Sure, Kiryu is a badass Yakuza member but that doesn’t mean he can’t have some fun along the journey of life. You could pop into an arcade and play older Sega games, or maybe you’d prefer a little Karaoke? Or for those with true style and some extra money, maybe you’into to the exclusive dancing club and get your groove on? Better be ready to hit those buttons just right to get those perfect scores. That is just the tip of the iceberg for the district of Kamurocho. There are batting cages, claw machines, cabarets, places dealing in exclusive videos of .. women.. and so much more. Not only are there all these places you can visit, but there are a ton of side quests too. See that line of people waiting for the release of super mega dragon fighter XXI!? Come back later and maybe that poor kid had his game stolen by a snot nosed punk, which means it’s time for Kiryu to pound some justice into him. Or maybe it’s time to bring down that ring of blackmailed panty sellers? Yakuza 0 beings more depth with all these other activities but also memorable and oft times weird stories that may stick with you for years to come.