The year, 1988. The month is December. I’m 6 months old by the date of December 9. Welcome to Yakuza 0! For Yakuza fans this will be a fun one, it’s a prologue that gives you a huge chance to play at least two of your favorite Yakuza characters back stories. Without further ado, let’s get down to business! (BTW, This review may contain spoilers, so if you don’t like those kinds of things I would suggest steering clear)
The story in this game takes you back to 1988, before Kiryu rose up and became the dangerous man he’s known as today and before Goro got his rep as a major hot head, or maybe he was known for that all along. You’ll find that out in this game. I like the story for many reasons, it’s well written and has good voice acting with it. It’s a redemption story for both characters in Yakuza 0 as both were at one point in the yakuza. Kiryu starts the game working for the Dojima Family as a debt collector and you later use Goro who starts as a cabaret manager for The Grand. Both have their own contrasting stories that are also, in a way, the same. The sub-stories as well are pretty interesting and quirky. Some are pretty funny and some border on weird so prepare yourself.
Outside of the story, the game looks pretty good! I wouldn’t say it’s at the level of a Final Fantasy or Metal Gear, but it holds it own in its own special way. The two cities you visit in Tokyo and in Osaka are well designed and look alive no matter what time of day it is. This leads me to the character models, which were also well done but you can tell a slight change in quality between cut scenes and in-game. It’s not big, but it’s noticeable depending on your vision. There was one time where I didn’t notice a change in quality and that was during one cut scene with Goro.
Speaking of Goro and Kiryu, that brings me to how the game handles. This isn’t a very complicated beat em up system. You create your combos between two buttons and have a third for grabbing and a fourth for dodging. The fifth is for blocking but that will all be common knowledge when you play. While I would say that the controls are great, however I have one issue with them. There are times where strikes continue and go a completely different direction than where you wanted it. Other than that, the game handles well and is easy to get used to.
Overall, this is a game that Yakuza fans will enjoy along with those who want to get familiar with the franchise ahead of the 6th game coming out in the next year. It’s a fun, quirky, fast paced beat em up that will keep you and your friends entertained with its side missions and mini-games that you can play by yourself and against others online (or next to you). Yakuza 0 has a bit of everything for everyone. I would highly recommend getting this game on release day and experiencing one of the best adventure rpgs to hit this year so far.
*This review is based on a review copy of the game received from SEGA*