Releasing way back in 2015 for Japan, Yakuza 0 was a new title that predates the entire Yakuza series. It is one of the best looking and best playing Yakuza games so far. The wait for a North American release was well worth it.
Yakuza 0 takes place in 1988 Tokyo, Japan. You play as a young Kazuma Kiryu who is just playing a small part in the Yakuza at this time. Kiryu goes out one night on a collection run and beats up a money borrowing man. The next day, he finds out that the same man is murdered and the whole Yakuza is in a frenzy because it makes all of them look bad. Being framed for murder and his crime family in an uproar, Kiryu sets out on a journey to clear his name. This is just the start of Yakuza 0 and where the story begins.
Gameplay in Yakuza 0 is an open world, action-packed brawler. You have several fighting styles that you can switch to at any time within a battle. Each of these are unique and are fun to experience. Fist-fighting isn’t the only type of combat that players will experience in Yakuza 0. Players can throw enemies out of windows, break their skulls by smashing them into urinals, and use their entire environment as their playground. You have the whole world as your arsenal.
The better you get at fighting, the more money you can collect towards skills, items and experience. Players can walk into local shops to eat/buy food, healing items, and more. A player can also use their money towards new fighting abilities, combos, and skills.
When you aren’t on a long quest or watching lengthy scenes, players can dive into sidequests, and just have a bunch fun around the city. There is karaoke, fishing, darts, and many mini-games to play around with. The game is so much fun and you can even bring a second player to play some of the mini-games with you. Maybe in the next game, we could have two-player co-op in the main story.
Graphics in Yakuza 0 are a hit and miss. There seems to be three different types of cutscenes, one of which I am not particularly a fan of. The one type of cutscene that I didn’t like is where the characters’ lips don’t move and they just look at each other while one another talks. This is kind of weird in my opinion. The game performs great during the cutscenes, but sometimes in the game there will be screen tearing and the environment won’t look the greatest. Your main characters always seem to look great and that is a good thing as they are the main focal point here.
Overall, Yakuza 0 delivers a fantastic story and gameplay is extremely satisfying. I highly enjoyed it better than the latest GTA (many people compare it to GTA, but it is completely different). The graphics are great at some points, but under-deliver many times throughout the game.
8/10 – A Great Story and Combat System. A must-buy for Yakuza fans and a great entry-point for new players of the franchise.